Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Public Sculpture I: Storm King

When I decided to move into the world of sculpture for my PhD studies and dissertation, I never anticipated that public sculpture would become an interest of mine. Even more surprising to me has been my gradual increase of interest in modern public sculpture (PR must be rolling his eyes right about now). Sculpture occupies space; thus, our interactions with it are determined by spatial arrangements. It forces you to engage with it (assuming you're actually looking at it), and it invites you to walk around it, take it in from all sides. It is, in many ways, a reflection of us, albeit in a different material form, be it stone, wood, or metal. The long history of figurative sculpture of course makes this idea of self-reflection more apparent. But abstract sculpture, works that base their existence on concepts and materiality over humanistic representation, can confuse people. In my personal experience, abstract sculptures are about their own material nature and how they blend/repel the environment that surrounds them. Placed in urban settings, they may take on a vitality that in a rural or nature-based setting changes them into some more contemplative. I make no claims to actually understand the socio-political and cultural ramifications of public sculpture, but I'm enjoying my own personal experience with it. Two weekends ago, AA and made a trip to Storm King Art Center up the Hudson River. We just meandered and took in nature and the sculpture installed everywhere. Some of it was fascinating, other parts just okay. It was a beautiful day though, with the leaves starting to change color, and just wandering, relaxing, admiring art and nature all from different angles was simply a great day. The sculpture above is by Mark di Suvero, Jambalaya, 2002-06, and for sense of scale you'll notice teeny weeny AA in the right foreground taking his own picture of the I-beam steel sculpture. Here are a few other pictures we took that day: Zhang Huan, Three Legged Buddha, 2007 (with another mini-AA beside it for scale); Andy Goldsworthy, Storm King Wall, 1997-98 (probably my favorite environmental piece that day, loving the way it interacts like a serpent of stone through the trees); Roy Lichtenstein, Mermaid, 1994; and Alexander Calder, The Arch, 1975.


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