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Karen LaMonte unveils monumental works in the Glasstress exhibition during the Biennale
installation view.

VENICE.- A major installation of artist Karen LaMonte’s ethereal and powerful sculptures is part of Glasstress during the Venice Biennale.

The exhibition is curated by Dr. Dmitry Ozerkov of the State Heritage Museum in St. Petersburg, Herwig Kempinger, President of Succession in Vienna, and Adriano Berengo, with consultancy by Clare Phyllis Davis, of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The works are on view through November of this year at the Palazzo Franchetti, San Marco 2847, Venice.

LaMonte, an American artist now based in Prague, Czech Republic, presents an installation of life-size reclining and standing figures in white bronze and cast glass from her Nocturnes series. She is also debuting Cumulus, an 8’ high, five ton, marble sculpture modeled from an actual cumulous cloud.

Additional artists in Glasstress include Ai Weiwei, Tony Cragg, Vik Muniz, Paul McCarthy, Thomas Schütte, Sarah Sze and Ugo Rondinone, among others.

LaMonte’s Nocturnes are captivating sculptures of absent female nudes rising from penumbral garments. Life-size reclining and standing figures, they are cast in white bronze, glass and iron. They refer directly to a long tradition of depicting the female nude that originated in Venice in 1510 with Italian Renaissance painter Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus. LaMonte’s work suggests the tension between humanism and eroticism, the physical and the unearthly, the body and the spirit. The figures are at once intensely physical - muscles and flesh strain against clinging fabric - and yet insubstantial: the body is absent, implied only by the shapes pressing against the clothing. The technical brilliance of casting these figures in iron, bronze and glass is disguised by the lightness and fluidity of each sculpture’s movement, reclining, twisting, and stepping. They explore the twilight transition from known to unknown, reality to dream, material to immaterial.

LaMonte’s major new sculpture, Cumulus, similarly meditates on the contradictions of weight and weightlessness, the material and immaterial, presence and absence. For Cumulus, LaMonte worked with atmospheric scientists at Caltech who used a weather simulation program to model the cloud. It was carved into marble using the latest robotic technology and finished by craftsmen, a tribute to both the capabilities of digital technology and the tradition of classical sculpture.

“Cumulus focuses peoples’ attention on weather and climate change,” LaMonte said. “There could not be a more appropriate city for that than Venice.

“The Nocturnes installation is sited in Venice just feet from where the first painting of a reclining female nude changed history. My absent nudes resonate with an echo of her beauty and connect it to the infinite and aqueous depth of night.”

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