Posts tagged "Sculpture"

Hammer, Chisel, Drill

Spent the morning at an Art for Families program at the Noguchi Museum, on their first day open after Superstorm Sandy. The kids learned all about tools, related to the current exhibition on Isamu Noguchi’s working practice. Tools, studio photos, video and unfinished sculpture all tell the story behind the finished works.

skibinskipedia:

Isamu Noguchi’s Playground Equipment

“Noguchi’s playground equipment designs were criticized on the grounds they were too dangerous. These models were developed as part of a design for a playground to be constructed in Hawaii, but remained unrealized.” [via]


Here’s the playground they could have built on the High Line and not messed with the style…

skibinskipedia:

Isamu Noguchi’s Playground Equipment

“Noguchi’s playground equipment designs were criticized on the grounds they were too dangerous. These models were developed as part of a design for a playground to be constructed in Hawaii, but remained unrealized.” [via]

Here’s the playground they could have built on the High Line and not messed with the style…

skibinskipedia:


Bucky Fuller and Isamu Noguchi: Story of a Friendship: Shoji Sadao, director of the Noguchi Museum, relates the dynamics of a friendship based on a shared fascination with technology and the possibility of a utopian world.

This entire piece, and its accompanying images, are well-worth a click-through to Domus for a read.
[Image: Isamu Noguchi, Akari light sculpture display in Japan, 1970. Photograph by Michio Noguchi, courtesy of Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller and Stanford University Libraries, Special Collections, R. Buckminster Fuller Collection.]

skibinskipedia:

Bucky Fuller and Isamu Noguchi: Story of a Friendship: Shoji Sadao, director of the Noguchi Museum, relates the dynamics of a friendship based on a shared fascination with technology and the possibility of a utopian world.

This entire piece, and its accompanying images, are well-worth a click-through to Domus for a read.

[Image: Isamu Noguchi, Akari light sculpture display in Japan, 1970. Photograph by Michio Noguchi, courtesy of Estate of R. Buckminster Fuller and Stanford University Libraries, Special Collections, R. Buckminster Fuller Collection.]

First Flight

I think my two-year-old made his first interpretation of art on Saturday. We drove up to Storm King Art Center in the Hudson Highlands because it was a beautiful day and a holiday weekend and a sculpture park is the perfect way to keep both parents and toddler happy. Nothing but grass and big indestructible beasts, like this 1975 Alexander Calder, titled “The Arch”. It sits in a mowed circle in a field of wildflowers and grasses, so your approach, down a grass path, is oblique. It is hard to see how the sculpture hits the ground. As we were walking toward it I told my son it was a sculpture (he already knows what a statue is from our trip to the Saint-Gaudens Historic Site), and then I asked him, “What does it look like?” He said, still running towards it, “Airplane!” Exactly.

I am not sure he noticed any of the other sculpture, since soon after that sublime moment of parental pride, he spotted the tram. “Tram! Tram! Tram!” for the next three hours.

The adults did manage to pay attention to a few other works. Richard Serra’s "Schunnemunk Fork" (1990-91) has settled in nicely, its steel plates extending from the soft hillsides with a stealthy violence that offers a nice contrast to the general tone of the large-scale works at Storm King: graphic, tectonic, apolitical. The thought that occurred to me as we walked over hill and down dale, was how wonderful the Calders and di Suveros looked on the rolling grasslands, and how odd a place it was for them to end up. I think of all these sculptors (and Saint-Gaudens too) as urban types, with an urban clientele, forging pieces for the city. The Calders I have appreciated most in situ are those most hemmed in by architecture: "Flamingo" in the courtyard at Mies’s Federal Center in Chicago; "Black Beast" in the courtyard at Eliot Noyes’s own house in New Canaan, CT. The beasts push metaphorically on the glass boxes at their backs. Out in the grass their outlines look sharper but their movement is stilled, so they operate more like grotesquely overscaled garden ornaments. Saint-Gaudens’ "Diana, so impudent atop Madison Square Garden, is merely another nymph in the country.

The only work that was new to us was Maya Lin’s "Wavefield" (2009), an 11-acre, seven-range set of artificial hills, designed by the architect to mimic the shape and size of ocean waves in dirt. It photographs beautifully, looking much like a Hiroshi Sugimoto photograph in color, but in person it was somewhat underwhelming. Because it is so new, you aren’t allowed to walk between or over the waves, only around the edge, so it feels like a dollhouse version of the bigger, unsculpted hills in the rest of the park, tidy and arid. There’s nothing to experience (yet). The indoor exhibition of other recent Lin sculpture also felt arid, as if she were putting on an taking off the garb of any number of contemporary sculptors. An indoor wooden version of the waves reminded me of Ursula von Rydingsvard with less oomph, or Tara Donovan with less mystery (and jokes). We saw more interesting pin art at the Saint-Gaudens site, by Claire Watkins.

The only object that seemed really new was a wall relief, "Chesapeake, the outline of the bay in recycled silver. The material has a mixed metallic tone, and the curving edges suggest surface tension on a pool, as if the fingery form had been quickly drawn with a stick in water. That sensation of speed was what was missing from the rest of the pieces, which seemed to drain their natural forms of the spark of life.

Summer as a Verb

Another visitor to the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site was speaking on her cell phone. “I am visiting Saint Gardens, in Cornish,” she said. And she wasn’t all wrong. The estate of sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens in Cornish, NH is a little bit of heaven on earth, with rolling lawns, a birch walk, a wildflower meadow, and a scattering of buildings that demonstrate an urbanite’s vision of country life from the turn of the nineteenth century. A barn developed into a stage with a neo-classical pergola and a clerestory. A plain farmhouse was dressed up with a Dutch stepped gable and a deep porch with trellises and a red-painted floor. The garden wasdivided into blocks, and each hedged cell now houses a famous work, including Saint-Gaudens’ Robert Gould Shaw memorial frieze—a tribute to the leader of the first black regiment to fight for the Union in the Civil War. (Matthew Broderick played Shaw in Glory.) The carefully modeled heads of the soldiers, with specific, non-stereotyped African-American faces, are on display in another building.

Saint-Gaudens was part of a larger summer outflux of artists to Cornish. Other famous names include borderline soft-porn painter Maxfield Parrish (my college roommate had his Ecstacy pinned up on her wall), the now completely eclipsed novelist Winston Churchill, and assorted other painters, engravers, gardeners and musicians linked by their love of classical dress-up, particularly for their fancifully named children. (There are some great period photos in the book New Hampshire’s Cornish Colony.)

Besides being a lovely place to picnic, the site is also an indoor and outdoor museum of Saint-Gaudens’ work, which turns out to be ubiquitous but also, for me, completely overlooked. Saint-Gaudens is responsible for the style of American coinage, as he and friend Teddy Roosevelt led the effort to create more beautiful money, most notably the gold double-eagle coin. Saint-Gaudens also had a hand in many of those memorial sculptures I completely ignore in city parks. If it isn’t Daniel Chester French, it’s probably Saint-Gaudens.

The most interesting of the large sculptures on display is the Farragut Memorial from Madison Square Park. The original base was done in bluestone, which proved too soft for the rain, and was sent back to Cornish and replaced with a granite facsimile. The statue of Admiral Farragut is fine in its way—a nice likeness, in contemporary dress—but the base is allusive and clever. Designed by Stanford White (a frequent collaborator) as a semi-circular bench, it looks as if it is in the process of being etched by the waves, with fish caught in currents forming the two front corners. As the waves carry around the back, they turn into draperies on two mourning maidens. Saint-Gaudens and White’s names are written on a bronze crab. In Cornish this sculpture sits in a little glass-roofed open-ended barn, part of a complex with the Little Studio and a gallery that shows the work of contemporary artists in residence. The building manages to make the big urban sculpture work in the rural setting, and helps you focus on the artist’s hand in a way that’s impossible in the city. Perhaps that’s why all these artists had to summer: they couldn’t really think, or watch a stream, or play at being nymphs and satyrs in the city.

In The New Yorker of August 24, 2009, Peter Schjeldahl reviews a show of Saint-Gaudens’ work at the Met, and reports on his trip to Cornish.

Commentary on the visual world by Alexandra Lange. Can include design, architecture, parks, movies, TV, books, kids.

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