GREENWICH, CT.- The Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut, showcases forty-five masterpieces of modern sculpture in its major winter exhibition, Innovations in the Third Dimension: Sculpture of Our Time, illustrating how virtually every time-honored idea about sculpture has been challenged in the 20th and 21st centuries. Opening on Saturday, January 24, 2009, and running through Sunday, May 24, 2009, the exhibition addresses the radical changes in the size, media, presentation, and techniques of sculpture that have created exciting and startling new possibilities for the medium.
Drawn from the rich local collections of Greenwich and its environs, the exhibition is supported by UBS Private Wealth Management, Withers Bergman LLP, the Charles M. and Deborah G. Royce Exhibition Fund, the Seiden-Luke Fund for Exhibitions and Publications, and a Committee of Honor co-chaired by Lisa and Richard Baker and Amy and Sid Goodfriend. Innovations in the Third Dimension: Sculpture of Our Time has been organized by the Bruce Museum and curated by Nancy Hall-Duncan, Bruce Museum Senior Curator of Art. An accompanying hard cover catalogue with an essay by Ms. Hall-Duncan, a sculpture time line by Dr. Joan Pachner, an authority on modern sculpture, and artists’ biographies written by Anna Juliar, the Bruce Museum Lillian Butler Davey Resident Intern is being published. An Audio Tour Guide of the exhibition sponsored by Lucy and Nat Day is available free for cell phone users. A full schedule of public programs including lectures and a film series is being presented in conjunction with the exhibition. For details, visit the Bruce Museum website at www.brucemuseum.org. From ancient times through the end of the 19th century, sculpture was defined as statuary, either modeled from a soft material, such as clay, or carved from a hard material, such as marble or wood, and displayed on a pedestal or plinth. The virtual explosion of materials used by sculptors is a hallmark of the past century - traditional media have given way to plastic, vinyl, cardboard, glass, cement, concrete, hair, leather, milk, mirrors, neon light, and even chewing gum, dust, pollen, and body fluids. Sculptural techniques such as modeling and carving have been expanded to include welding, sewing, scattering, assembling, using “found” objects, and countless other methods. Sculpture has been taken off its pedestal, dangled from the ceiling, set into motion, and transformed by technological breakthroughs. It has become performance art, environmental sculpture, installation art, earthwork, light art, and a stunningly wide spectrum of other forms. Early works in the exhibition include examples by the late 19th-century genius Auguste Rodin and early 20th-century modernists such as Alexander Archipenko and Alexander Calder. Mid-20th century sculptures by Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore, David Smith, and others are on view with more recent, cutting-edge contemporary sculpture by Marc Quinn, Antony Gormley, Do Ho Suh and the artistic team of Sue Webster and Tim Noble, among others.
Rodin is the first in a long line of artists in this exhibition concerned with the depiction of the human body. Exhibition highlights that focus on the innovation of the figure include works by British sculptor Henry Moore and American artist Duane Hanson. Moore introduced the use of punctured space - the hole - that allows the modeled figure to fuse with the landscape. Hanson broke with the tradition of portrait sculpture, which for millennia has served to flatter, by employing the ultrarealist technique of casting directly from the human body to present a revolutionary new subject: blue-collar America. On view is Hanson’s Cement Worker, one of his startlingly realistic subjects. During the modern and postmodern eras, figuration has remained a steady source of inspiration for a broad variety of international artists. The exhibition offers numerous examples. Columbian artist Fernando Botero created Lovers, two rotund nudes of highly disproportionate size, which were modeled in the smooth, rounded bronze masses we instantly recognize as the artist’s signature style. By contrast, Keith Haring’s Capoeira Dancers seems to have jumped directly out of the brilliant draftsmanship of his subway drawings. Everything in this work - the energy of his fluid line, the joyous color, the bold simplification - combines to make this an eye-dazzling, audience-grabbing production. Three women artists in this exhibition, Louise Bourgeois, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Susy Gómez, bring their own feminine viewpoints to figuration, investigating such issues as domesticity, motherhood, and the ambiguity of male and female roles. The innovations of Cubism opened quite different avenues than those afforded by figuration. Included in the show is Alexander Archipenko’s elegant Madonna of the Rocks, a fully realized expression of Cubist principles. The modernist interest in motion in sculpture is represented by a “mobile” and a “stabile” by Alexander Calder, as well as a motorized sculpture by José de Rivera. Based on his technical background and a deep interest in science and mathematics, Construction #21A is a motorized version of his signature twisted aluminum line in space, a form that he explored for the three decades from 1955 until his death in 1985.
When the Cubists introduced sandpaper, nails, curtain material, wallpaper, newspaper clippings, and other objects into their collages and reliefs, they opened the floodgates to using actual materials of the real world in art. Numerous works in the exhibition illustrate that sculpture is no longer a representation merely in bronze or marble, including Charles Long’s environmental statement which incorporates river sediment and debris, Do Ho Suh’s Bathroom of translucent nylon, and Ashley Bickerton’s sculpture of blue chemical, coral, Cheez Doodles, and broken glass. Isamu Noguchi’s use of novel modern materials in Lunar and, in particular, his early use of sculptural light is a significant contribution. Louise Nevelson, who utilized scavenged wood for her elegant, monochrome works, and John Chamberlain, who utilized welded, crushed automobile parts as his primary medium, were two artists profoundly influenced by the idea of the “found object” as art. Other artists transformed everyday objects in startling ways. Claes Oldenburg’s 1963 Soft Pay-Telephone (Ghost Version), Robert Gober’s Cat Litter and Liza Lou’s Joy and Comet are examples. Robert Indiana’s Love, one of the most recognizable Pop images of the 20th century, is a highlight of the exhibition. New techniques also created new expressive possibilities for sculpture, most notably in welding. A generation of sculptors began to experiment with welded metal abstractions in the 1940s and 1950s, including David Smith, whose work changed the nature of sculpture in America, bringing a new passion, seriousness, and identity to the medium in this country. In the 21st century, digital technology opens novel sculptural possibilities. Karin Sander’s Unlimited (Statue of Jennifer Stockman) and Xavier Veilhan’s David use technology to generate hyperrealist, three-dimensional portrait sculpture using a technologically sophisticated scanning procedure as its starting point. Robert Whitman’s Ganymede, which takes its name from the moon of Jupiter that is the largest natural satellite in the solar system, reflects our fascination with the mystery of space and incorporates a looped digital video on the inside of a five-foot-wide plastic hemisphere. This exhibition offers the viewer not only unexpected moments of discovery and connection among these exciting new artists and styles, but also insight into how sculpture draws on the past while pioneering new directions toward the future.
The Bruce Museum is located at 1 Museum Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut, USA. General admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and students, and free for children under five and Bruce Museum members. Free admission to all on Tuesdays. The Museum is located near Interstate-95, Exit 3, and a short walk from the Greenwich, CT, train station. Museum hours are: Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and closed Mondays and major holidays. Groups of eight or more require advance reservations. Museum exhibition tours are held Fridays at 12:30 p.m. Free, on-site parking is available. The Bruce Museum is accessible to individuals with disabilities. For information, call the Bruce Museum at (203) 869-0376, or visit the Bruce Museum website at www.brucemuseum.org.