Gold leaf on plywood and black and white framed photograph, 244 × 289.5 × 34 cm
Robert Longo’s Cold Heaven is a sculptural work that describes an urban drama from contemporary culture. As with his Combines series of 1982–1984, Longo works with the juxtaposition of contrasting images, techniques and materials to address the ideologies and failures of modern society. In the upper half of the piece, a low-relief made of gold-leaf covered, minimalist forms evokes rows of luxury houses viewed from above. Underneath this orderly, luminous structure, a photographic frieze made of a found black and white image from mass media depicts a city in ruins. The dark rubble creates a sharp contrast with the flamboyant, utopian vision symbolized by the low-relief. A parody of the social order, Cold Heaven carries the same critical tone that is present throughout much of Longo’s art practice.