A Walk in the Park: Outdoor Sculpture at PaceWildenstein
A Walk in the Park: Outdoor Sculpture at PaceWildenstein features a dynamic selection of monumental outdoor sculpture by seminal figures in modern and contemporary art, including Alexander Calder, John Chamberlain, Jim Dine, Jean Dubuffet, Lee Ufan, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Lucas Samaras, Joel Shapiro, and Kiki Smith. A Walk in the Park is currently on view at 545 West 22nd Street, New York City through July 24, 2009.
Outdoor sculpture forms a dialogue with the environment that extends beyond the walls of the gallery, museum and studio, spilling onto the city streets, sprawling across lawns, hanging from buildings, and dancing across rooftops. Adjusting the frame of reference and context in order to encompass architecture, people, and traffic, and using materials that withstand the harsh conditions of climate, the artists included in this exhibition have redefined the public landscape with their monumental outdoor works. The nine sculptures on view span more than four decades, highlighting significant innovations in the development of modern and contemporary sculpture. All of the artists whose work is included in the exhibition have a long time association with outdoor and monumental sculpture, having realized commissions in cities worldwide for much of the 20th century and beyond.
Alexander Calder’s invention of the mobile, stabile, and standing-mobile heralded a major revolution in the practice of modern art, paving the way for ground-breaking developments in monumental outdoor sculpture by using compositions and materials that allowed the idea of abstraction to move beyond the confines of the institution. Championing the industrial tools and materials of the modern age, reintroducing color to outdoor works, and abandoning the literal figuration that had characterized sculptural production for decades prior, his sculptures revitalized a stagnant art form. Calder’s Trois pics (1967), a 93" x 63" x 66-1/2" maquette, on view in this exhibition, was created for the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble and was exhibited in the Garden Plaza at 590 Madison (at 56th Street) in New York City in 1996-97. Like Calder, whose abstract stabiles make playful allusions to the natural and animal realm, Joel Shapiro explores the metamorphic possibilities of geometric figures and forms, referencing the human body, spirit and gesture as he merges figuration with abstraction. Human emotions emanate, ranging from exuberant to melancholic, tender or longing, apparent in the 109" x 77" x 46" cast bronze sculpture Untitled (1996-97) on view in this exhibition.
Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg’s oversized commodities invade the landscape, assuming the character of living forms as mundane objects are transformed into the extraordinary. From gigantic trowels to clothespins, binoculars, and shuttlecocks, together the artists realized more than 40 large-scale projects in their 33 year collaboration. A nearly 9' tall fork with a fiberglass meatball and spaghetti (Leaning Fork with Meatball and Spaghetti II, 1994) will be on view in this exhibition. The pair’s final collaboration (van Bruggen passed away in January) in their Large-Scale Projects series, Tumbling Tacks, was recently installed on a hillside, hurtling towards the Kistefos Museum, near Oslo, Norway. Currently on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art is a major two-part exhibition: Claes Oldenburg: Early Sculpture, Drawings, and Happenings Films and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen: The Music Room (through September 6th). Drawings on Site: Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen is also on view at The Menil Collection, Houston through October 11, 2009.
Lucas Samaras, who is the official representative of Greece at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, The Venice Biennale (his installation, PARAXENA¸ commissioned by the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and curated by Matthew Higgs is on view in the Greek Pavilion in the Giardini della Biennale through November 22, 2009), transforms an ordinary chair into a fantastical ascending sculpture that changes positions depending on the audience’s viewpoint in Chair Transformation #20B, 1996. An edition of three, one of the editions is installed in the sculpture garden of the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. Lucas Samaras began his “Chair Transformation” series in 1969, transforming chairs through a wide variety of methods and materials—covering them in mirrors or yarn, entwining them in wool, and painting them in bright patterns. He has constructed chairs out of many materials throughout his career, including Cor-ten steel, wire, Formica, and wood.
Spatial and material concerns are also central to Lee Ufan’s work. The artist has used the term “Relatum” rather than “sculpture” to describe his three-dimensional works since the 1990s, suggesting an individual element within a relation. In Relatum–dynamics place (2008) a 32" x 33" x 36" stone rests atop a 1" x 8' 5" x 7' 7" steel plate, the two materials forming a dialogue with one another. John Chamberlain’s investigation of material has resulted in works created from foam, foil, paper bags, Plexiglas, resin, and steel. Perhaps most famously known for his signature use of crushed automobile parts, Chamberlain began experimenting with stainless steel in 2005 while working on an underwater sculpture that he had conceived of for Donald Judd’s pool in Marfa, Texas in the 1970s. Incedentallyneutered (2008), a ball of wrestled stainless-steel strips covered with dabs of green, yellow, blue and red paint, represents a new direction for the artist and a new chapter in a career that has critically redefined sculpture many times over for the past five decades.
Splashes of vibrant enamel in pink, magenta, red, yellow, green, and blue decorate Jim Dine’s bronze Night Fields, Day Fields (1999), measuring 78" x 53" x 36." For nearly thirty years, the artist has been creating variations on the Greek statue Venus, from the massive trio of bronzes entitled Looking Toward the Avenue, which measure 14', 18' and 23' high and grace the corner of 52nd Street and Sixth Avenue in New York City, to a 37 foot tall, 11.5 ton Cincinnati Venus, which sits atop the 52-foot high rotunda of the Carl B. Stokes U.S. Court House in Cincinnati. Most recently, in 2007 Dine was commissioned by the City of Borås, Sweden to create Walking to Borås, a cast bronze Pinocchio of monumental proportions, measuring 30' x 16' 3" x 13' 9".
Other important works on view in this exhibition include Kiki Smith’s cast aluminum and bronze Moon on Crutches Figure 2 (2002), in which a stiff body is placed on wooden stanchions at precarious angles, stylistically reminiscent of Greek kore figures, and Jean Dubuffet’s Tour aux Récits (13' 4" x 6' 2" x 6' 2"), which the artist had conceived of in 1973 and which was realized in 2007 by Richard Dhoedt, the fabricator who cast all of Dubuffet’s important large-scale projects. Tour aux Récits is an example of Dubuffet’s Hourloupe cycle, the first major exploration into the architectural dimension of his work, inspired by his interest in architecture and his desire to design works which would form a dialogue with passersby.
For more information on A Walk in the Park: Outdoor Sculpture at PaceWildenstein, please contact Jennifer Benz Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lauren Staub at email@example.com or call 212.421.3292.