Tuesday, December 28, 2010

deCordova in the Middle

The Midwest is full of amazing things – tornadoes, corn, karaoke, friendly people, and plenty of great sculpture. On a recent trip to visit fellow Sculpture Parks we had the pleasure of seeing the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s 100 Acres Sculpture Park. After weathering a tornado (yes we were ushered to the basement of the beautiful IMA along with their staff) we saw projects like Andrea Zittel’s floating Indianapolis Islanda livable structure and research hub and Los Carpinteros’s Free Basket that materializes the path of a bouncing basketball. 

Next we flew to Missouri to check out Laumeier Sculpture Park in St. Louis as well as Cedarhurst Sculpture Park in Southern Illinois (only an hour from STL). We were lucky enough to see the concrete being poured for Jessica Stockholder’s new piece at Laumeier – opening in February 2011 - and visit some all-time favorites like Dan Graham’s reflective pavilion, Triangular Bridge Over Water.

St. Louis was overflowing with fantastic sculpture, including this bronze (Bird) by Welsh artist Laura Ford in the newly constructed CityGarden in downtown St. Louis – complete with a great view of the famous Arch.

Our final Midwestern stop was Grand Rapids to see the Frederik Meijer Garden and Sculpture Park. They had a truly monumental exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass sculptures that were literally everywhere – on hills, in gardens, and in sinking boats. This exhibition was in addition to the permanent collection sculptures, and one among many highlights was Jaume Plensa’s I, You, She or He  3 figures made of stainless steel letters positioned in conversation with one another.

Our takeaway from this trip (aside from the fact that “Boot-Scootin’ Boogie” makes an excellent karaoke song) – if you like sculpture, the Midwest is a great place to visit.

 - Lexi Lee Sullivan and Emily Silet

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nick's London Trip

From November 29 - December 2, I was in London, meeting with British sculptors, galleries, and museums.

Nick Capasso
Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs

Here are some highlights:

Tuesday, November 29
I met with Claire Shea, Curator at the Cass Sculpture Foundation (formerly Sculpture at Goodwood), which exists to promote the work of contemporary British sculptors. Claire and I had lunch at the Tate Britain to discuss possible Cass/deCordova collaborations.

At Tate Britain, I saw the 2010 Turner Prize show, along with artist Fiona Banner’s massive sculptures based on British fighter jets, the Tate’s 2010 Duveen Commission.

Later that afternoon I met with sculptor Laura Ford at her home and studio in Kentish Town. Sorry, no pictures. Laura will be having a major exhibition of her work next summer at the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and represented Wales in the Venice Biennale in 2005.

Wednesday, November 30

James Clapper

After a visit with young British sculptor James Capper at his studio in Southwark, he took me to see his sculpture, Sea Light, which was floating on the Thames in front of the Tate Modern. Sea Light uses both wind and solar energy to power a battery that in turn electrically illuminates the sculpture at night. Capper is interested in the aesthetic and technological places where sculpture and engineering meet. Sea Light is part of Drift 10, an exhibition program of sculptures in and along the Thames sponsored by the Henry Moore Foundation.

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds (detail)

Later that morning, I visited Ai Weiwei’s installation Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern. Here, this prominent Chinese artist placed over one hundred million hand-made porcelain sunflower seeds on the floor of the Tate Modern’s massive Turbine Hall. According to Ai, this number is just five times the population of Beijing.

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds

During the afternoon and evening, I met with sculptor Gary Webb. Gary’s work is very well known in England and throughout Europe - recently the Tate acquired two of his major sculptures - but less so in the United States. I am organizing Gary’s first American solo museum exhibition for deCordova for the summer of 2012, with all new indoor and outdoor work that Gary will create especially for the show.

Gary Webb, Tom's Music

Here’s Gary at his London gallery, The Approach, in Bethnal Green, where he is currently showing new sculptures. Gary is standing with Tom’s Music

Gary Webb, Miami Poo Pipe

Gary Webb’s Miami Poo Pipe. The surface colors of this sculpture gradually change, controlled by internal heating devices on timers.

Thursday, December 2

I spent the morning traipsing through the uncharacteristically cold, windy, and snowy Kensington Gardens, to see outdoor work by Anish Kapoor. This exhibition, Turning the World Upside Down, is sponsored by London’s Serpentine Gallery.

Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror, Red, 2007
Anish Kapoor, Non-Object (Spire), 2007

In the far background is the spire of the late-19th century Albert Memorial.

Anish Kapoor, C-Curve, 2007

Whenever I travel abroad, I always try to find some time for a historical site. My visit to the Tower of London, begun in the 1080s by William the Conqueror, stood in stark contrast to several days spent with contemporary sculpture!

The Tower of London

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Welcome to Art Happens, the blog of the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA. Here you will be able to follow our staff as they travel across New England and beyond in search of new art and artists. You can also visit our website for information about exhibitions, events, and much more.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Northern Neighbors: Addison Gallery of American Art + Currier Museum of Art

November 17, 2010

Curator Allison Kemmerer in a rare moment replacing the pen in Tristan Perich’s installation.
 The curatorial department trekked just slightly up north to finally make our pilgrimage to the newly opened Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, MA. The Addison is one of the greatest resources for American Art not only in New England but in the country and, perhaps, the world. So how lucky are we to be just a 30-minute drive to this gem!

We were treated to a tour of their impressive and smartly-designed Sidney R. Knafel Wing by Centerbrook Architects, which houses the Museum Learning Center. Rather than expand their exhibition galleries, the museum thoughtfully added new space to work with school groups (of which they have more than the average museum, being part of Phillips Academy), store their ever-growing collection, and house an art library. 

Sheila Hicks

In the Learning Center artist-in-residence Tristan Perich set up a mesmerizing machine drawing (above), which was a great lead into the museum’s current main attraction: Sheila Hicks: 50 Years, a much-overdue and beautifully installed retrospective of this prescient sculptor. But it’s the Addison’s re-hanging of their stellar permanent collection that is a must-see. Mixing iconic paintings by Winslow Homer with contemporaneous photography and a Jackson Pollock is simply an inspired move.

Our next stop was the Currier Museum of Art in beautiful Manchester, New Hampshire. Below is the eye-popping Sol LeWitt mural in the museum’s new wing. Now on view is a rare behind-the-scenes view of museum practice in the incredibly inventive show The Secret Life of Art: Mysteries of the Museum Revealed. We were thrilled by the dissected shipping crate and, yes, inspired by their blog! Just beyond the special exhibitions gallery, though, is another must-see – the Currier’s newest acquisition of Glenn Ligon’s painting, Invisible Man (Two Views), 1991. Be sure to squint to see Ligon’s own silhouette emerge from Ralph Ellison’s text.
(right) Glenn Ligon, Invisible Man (Two Views), 1991

And then, a bit of art from Nature herself – a double rainbow to lead us back to Boston!

What does it mean?

- Dina Deitsch

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Farnsworth Art Museum, Center for Maine Contemporary Art

Tracy Pollock visits the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine
On October 6th we took a trip up the Maine coast to visit Rockland, Maine. After a four-hour-long drive through the rain, we arrived at the Farnsworth Art Museum, a museum that focuses on Maine’s role in American art. The museum houses a large collection of work by Andrew Wyeth, Alex Katz, and Louise Nevelson – all artists that have ties to Maine. 

We were particularly interested in viewing a sculpture by Portland-based artist Aaron Stephan that was part of the exhibition Four in Maine: Site Specific. His work, 30 Columns (2010), consists of thirty columns installed outside the museum. The columns are arranged in a snaking line through the lawn and emerge from the ground askew. The white columns, structures laden with historical connotations, are in dialogue with the Federalist buildings that surround them, yet also stand apart since they are not connected to any building, and have no structural function. Stephan often alters everyday items, like chairs and books, in order to create new ways of seeing and understanding these objects.

Our second stop was the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. On view was the exhibition Photographing Maine: Ten Years Later, which includes work by 150 artists, all created since 2000. This broad exhibition demonstrated the wide range of subject matter, techniques, and styles used by Maine photographers to capture elements of their surrounding environment. 

Of course, a trip to Maine is not complete without sampling some of its famous lobster. We stopped in Wiscasset at Red’s Eats and filled up on fried food and lobster rolls. This little shack is famous for bringing the entire town to a halt during the busy summer months when hungry tourists wait for hours to get one of Red’s legendary lobster rolls!

 - Tracy Pollock