American artist Spencer Finch (b. 1962) has recently installed his luminous and wistful Lunar (2011)--a solar-powered, buckyball-shaped spacecraft sculpture that exudes light like "a lunar module returning from the moon with moonlight on board"--on top of the Art Institute of Chicago's Modern Wing
. Positioned on the open-air Bluhm Family Terrace, Lunar glows during evening hours the exact color and brightness of the full moon over Chicago as recorded in July 2011. Finch's first presentation at the Art Institute is on view through April 8, 2012, and is free and open to the public.
Throughout his career, Spencer Finch has used color and light as primary subjects--and materials--in his drawings, photographs, mixed media projects, and large-scale installations. Best known for exploring ideas about memory and perception, the artist often employs a colorimeter, a device that measures the average color and temperature of light that exists naturally in a specific place and time. With this information in hand, Finch reconstructs the luminosity of the location through artificial means.
For his solo project at the Art Institute, Finch has created a solar-powered "lunar lander module" that uses energy from sunlight to power a geodesic dome-shaped object--a "buckyball" that resembles the carbon molecules named for visionary architect Buckminster Fuller. Finch, speaking about Lunar, said "Like just about everyone, I wanted to make a picture of the moon or, more specifically, of moonlight. I have always loved nocturnes and the impossible attempts to paint near-darkness in near-darkness. I figured there were probably enough literal pictures of the moon, so I began thinking about the form of moonlight and how it is actually reflected sunlight. This led me to explore the use of solar power to generate the light of the moon."
Spencer Finch's Lunar, overlooking Millennium Park from its perch on the Modern Wing, glimmers with the moonbeams of a warm, summer night throughout the fall and winter--evoking memories of the past and casting the museum in a comforting glow.
Finch was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1962. He received a degree in comparative literature from Hamilton College and an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. The artist has had solo exhibitions at ArtPace, San Antonio; Portikus, Frankfurt am Main, Germany; and the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford. His work has also been presented at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Barbican Centre Art Gallery in London; Museum für Neue Kunst, Karlsruhe; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; among others. His work is in the collections of the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main; and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; among others. The artist lives and works in Brooklyn.