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Exhibition celebrates recent major sculpture acquisition at Vanderbilt University
Mark di Suvero, American, b. 1933 Untitled (from 16 “Magma drawings”), 2008 Pen, ink, and pencil on paper 22-1/2” x 30-1/4” © Mark Di Suvero. Courtesy Paula Cooper Gallery, New York.

NASHVILLE, TN.- The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery announced the opening of Mark di Suvero—Affinities.

Mark di Suvero—Affinities is presented on the occasion of Vanderbilt University’s recent acquisition of Tumbleweed, 1987, di Suvero’s monumental sculpture now installed on the grounds of the university’s E. Bronson Ingram Studio Arts Center. While including several drawings by the artist, this exhibition is primarily an attempt to explore, not so much di Suvero’s influences, but rather works of art found within the Fine Arts Gallery’s collection that, as the title suggests, share an affinity with the artist’s practice. Joseph Mella, director of the Fine Arts Gallery explained that “particular care was taken not to limit our choices to well-recognized artists one might expect in an exhibition of this kind in order to be more inclusive and less linear.” By taking this approach, Mella continued, “we hope to suggest how disparate works of art can help define an artist’s sensibility.” This non-traditional methodology has resulted in an exhibition that includes works by Picasso, Braque, and Calder, alongside African masks, Chinese calligraphy, and Indian Tantra drawings.

This exhibition was also an opportunity to highlight di Suvero’s formative years in China, years that left a lasting impact on his life and work. A number of works by artists with Asian connections, such as the Chinese-born, French artist Zao Wou-Ki, accomplish this goal, as do three rarely exhibited prints from the 1960s by the Japanese artists Kiyoshi Saito, Chizuko Yoshido and Kumi Sugai.

Mark di Suvero—Affinities features work by several other twentieth and twenty-first century American sculptors, including prints by Alexander Calder, Eduardo Chillida, Seymour Lipton, and Martin Puryear. One highlight is John Chamberlain’s sculpture Maz, 1960. Most recently featured in the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s retrospective, John Chamberlain: Choices, Maz is an important, early example of Chamberlain’s extension of sculpture beyond the predominantly monochromatic work of the vast majority of sculptors in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

A 1985 film showing di Suvero at work is being shown as a part of this exhibition. In the film, we see the artist drawing arabesques and curved-shaped forms on massive sheets of steel that become central elements of a large sculpture not unlike Vanderbilt’s Tumbleweed.

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