Saturday, October 29, 2011

DC Trip Part !@

Sculptures Outside the Hirshhorn:

Lucio Fontana, Spatial Concept: Nature (59-60 N29), 1959-1960

I wonder what these sculptures by Lucio Fontana mean.  Perhaps something about rebirth and natural spiritual growth?  It would be nice to have some time to do some research on this...

Roy Lichtenstein, Brushstroke, 1996

This guy's pretty epic:  Roy Lichtenstein.  You may know him as the guy who paints those blown-up comic strip panels, complete with the benday dot effect.  He also did a lot with imitating brushstrokes.  It's like he's painting a line of paint.  This aluminum sculpture is right in front of the building on your way into the Hirshhorn from the mall.  It's a pretty cool first glance as to what's inside.

Claes Oldenburg, Geometric Mouse: Variation I, Scale A, 1971

This is a famous piece.  Claes Oldenburg's Geometric Mouse.  I find it to be a minimalist take on an iconic Mickey Mouse motif.  I've seen this sculpture in my textbooks.  It's very simple, but unique and original.  

Tony Smith, Throwback, 1976-79

Tony Smith is a very famous minimalist.  He's best known for his work, Die, which was a giant iron block with no other apparent features or artistic qualities aside from it's... well, it's blocky-ness.  Some people have a lot of trouble accepting that as art.  Unfortunately.  
Some of Smith's works, however, are more aesthetically pleasing, like this one.  There's a little bit of a mobius strip in this, in the fact that the figure seems to wind around itself in seemingly unlimited patterns.  I find it fascinating how people can see so many different images and actually make them real.

Kenneth Snelson, Needle Tower, 1968
I was reminded of the Eiffel Tower when I saw this tall sculpture by Kenneth Snelson.  Here's a really cool image I found online of  the perspective you get when liking directly up from inside the tower.  Pretty playful geometry.  Makes me almost appreciate math.

Go Here for the source.
My favorite thing in the sculpture garden was this installation by Yoko Ono.  It was a tree with hundreds of little paper tags all over it.  I think I can just include the plaque to explain what the goal was for her project.

Yoko Ono's an interesting woman.  She was part of this Neo-Dada movement called Fluxus, which prided itself in this free, do-it-yourself, performance-based artistic experience.  She's a huge advocate for peace and unity within the world.  This tree -- one of many planted across the globe -- is, to me, a symbol of how we all as human beings have something in common -- we all wish for something.  We all want to be happy.  I, like many, have the following wish:

...and I, like many, sometimes have trouble visualizing the reality of this wish.  But the reality and tangibility of this dream -- symbolized by its being written down and placed on the tree -- is there!  

Some other wishes I found on the tree that spoke to me:

This one I thought was just funny:

I really love this wish tree idea.  I'm glad I got to experience it in a quiet, serene environment.  The clouds were out, the tourisits were few, and my family was far behind me.  I was pretty much alone with this tree.  It was very nice.

Yoko Ono, Wish Tree, 2007

Alberto Giacometti, Monumental Head, 1960
Giacometti.  I think he's my favorite existentialist artist.  Mainly because he uses some pretty cool motifs and because his human figures actually look like how he wants them to feel.  Some even call him a surrealist.  Anyway, I immediately knew who was responsible for creating this morose-looking bust next to the Wish Tree.  They're quite a contrast from each other.

Henry Moore, King and Queen, 1952-53
The Sculpture Garden has tons of iconic works by famous artists that I immediately recognize from the textbooks I've had to read for my art history classes.  This one, I knew, was done by Moore.  His King and Queen motifs are seen all over the world. You can tell it's Moore by the simplification of the human form.  His works would grow to be even more simple and stylized as time goes on.

Auguste Rodin, Monument to Balzac, 1891-1898
I was really excited about this one.  Auguste Rodin's Monument to Balzac is very, very famous. 
Rodin was one of the first "impressionistic" sculptors; he allowed his technique to show through on his work, leaving a "painterly" quality of thumbprints and indentations from working the material.  Balzac was a pretty high and mighty guy; after being commissioned for this work, Rodin took a lot of... creative liberties with this work.  It looks nothing like the original Balzac and was rejected.  Only now, in modern times, can we appreciate the value of Rodin's deviance from the norm. This is a replication of the original, which is located in the Rodin Museum sculpture garden in Paris, France. 

I thought this was a pretty epic and inspired work, so I took a lot of pictures of it....

Funny... Rodin lived in the 1800s.  There aren't many artists from that age on display at the Hirshorn...

I guess that means Rodin was pretty modern for his time....

Auguste Rodin, The Burghers of Calais, 1884-1889
This is also a replication of a very famous work by Rodin, The Burghers of Calais.  Story: 
So back in the day, England laid siege to a city called Calais, and the city held out for so long, people started starving.  England said that they would spare the city, but only if it would offer the city's six strongest leaders as a sacrifice.  Those six burghers, walking to their doom, are the subject of this work. 

I think Rodin captures human personality very well.  Each of these burghers is showing a different emotion and demeanor.  Pretty cool...

Auguste Rodin, Walking Man, 1900
Another work by Rodin.  This one's a motion experiment called Walking Man.

Willem de Kooning, Clamdigger, 1972
Willem de Kooning was a whackjob if he saw images like this as "beautiful."  I think it looks like a child did it.  But of course, at such a grand scale as this, it would have to have been a pretty tall child with some pretty big hands.  And the title!  Clamdigger.  Fits eerily well, doesn't it? 

Henry Moore, 3-Way Piece No. 3: Vertebrae (Working Model), 1968 
More Moore.  I like this work because it really depicts the bone-like quality that the name suggests.  It's like a piece to a greater organic puzzle.

David Smith, Agricola I, 1951-1952
What a master, that David Smith.  All of his works are so unique and individual, but you know who created them right off the bat.  This one is called Agricola I, named after a Roman General.  Do you see the human-like quality of this piece?  I do.

David Smith, Voltri XV, 1962
Another David Smith work.  This one's probably named after another artist and created out of scrap metal.  Part of me really admires the "one man's trash" quality of David Smith's work.  He made this whole piece out of scrap metal.  It took very little time and the result is so simple and familiar.  

Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 1986
Kelly:  A Minimalist with some abstract expressionist flair.  He had a fascination for shapes and dimensions.  I feel like you can't really enjoy this untitled work unless you walk up to it and look at it from under the "fold."  Too bad they tell you not to touch the artwork at the Smithsonian.

Alexander Calder, Sky Hooks, 1962
What can I say, I just FREAKING LOVE CALDER, so I take a lot of pictures of his work.  I like this one because you can approach it from any angle and get something a little bit different.  It's like a journey that continues forever.

Dan Graham, For Gordon Bunshaft, 2006
My siblings and I had fun playing with this more recent work by Dan Graham.  It's titled For Gordon Bunshaft, who was the architect and designer for the Hirshhorn Museum's circular building.  Fitting that the work would be placed under its shadow.

The piece contains two-way mirrors, which lead to countless hours... er, minutes... of camera fun with the family.  

From the Hirshhorn website: "Graham has described these structures of mirror and wood as hybrids: one side derived from traditional Japanese architecture, while the other two sides allude to modern corporate architecture and Bunshaft’s design of the iconic Hirshhorn building."

The only problem:  I can't get a good picture of my sister with Graham's piece without taking a picture of my annoying, camera-toting self as well.  

It was still a great piece.  I think it's purpose is to include the living generation in the artistic movements of both the past and future.  Thus the two-way mirror.

As seen from above. 

David Smith, Cubi XII, 1963
Okay, this piece is one of many iconic pieces that you HAVE to see when you visit DC.  His Cubi are works of mastery.  Why?  Well, first of all, even though the work is made out of steel -- man-made -- it resembles and echoes natural, organic processes of crystallization and mineral growth.  Second of all, it combines a minimalist block-style with the abstract expressionist freedom by its artistic scratches on the metal.  The work changes throughout the day, depending on the light and reflection of the work.  And you, yourself, can be seen in its reflection.  SUCH a cool piece.  

David Smith, Pittsburgh Landscape, 1954
Here's another modernist twist that David Smith has created.  While modernist critics lauded David Smith for creating "ideal" sculptures that emphasize sculptural qualities, this work seems to echo a painting.  It's even called a LANDSCAPE.  There's little dimension to it; it looks almost drawn on a 2D surface made of air.  I find it pretty cool how Smith was able to thwart his critic contemporaries and make something that blends two artistic worlds together. 

A detail of Pittsburgh Landscape

Anthony Caro, Monsoon Drift, 1975
I think the title for this work by Caro is so fitting, but I really can't find the words to describe exactly why.  Perhaps it represents the cloud cover as the monsoon season rises and falls.  Or perhaps it's the waves of an overflowing river.  Or perhaps it's just representative of plate tectonics... I don't know, but it's a piece I love to look at again and again.

Mark de Suvero, Are Years What?(for Marianne Moore), 1967
My final piece I will show you in this long and arduous post is this one, by Mark de Suervo.  He liked to use I-beams in his modernist sculptures.  Unlike some of the works by Smith, this piece is GREATLY sculptural.  It's mobile, for one thing, so the piece moves through multiple stages in the third dimension.  And furthermore, it's made out of hard-and-fast modern material: steel.  The red color adds to an industrial feel.  

This is a Calder-like work.  You can look at it from any angle and see something completely different each time.  

It's also a very big work.  Like a jungle-gym of I-beams.

The title, which means so much, yet never enough to satisfy you.  The title is based off a poem by Marianne Moore, called "What Are Years"

What is our innocence,
what is our guilt? All are
   naked, none is safe. And whence
is courage: the unanswered question,
the resolute doubt,—
dumbly calling, deafly listening—that
in misfortune, even death,
      encourages others
      and in its defeat, stirs

   the soul to be strong? He
sees deep and is glad, who
   accedes to mortality
and in his imprisonment rises
upon himself as
the sea in a chasm, struggling to be
free and unable to be,
      in its surrendering
      finds its continuing.

   So he who strongly feels,
behaves. The very bird,
   grown taller as he sings, steels
his form straight up. Though he is captive,
his mighty singing
says, satisfaction is a lowly
thing, how pure a thing is joy.
      This is mortality,
      this is eternity.

Listening to:  Nothing at the moment.
Things going on Today:  Teach two-year-olds about the clarinet, Women's Chorus concert, Stake Conference, Halloween Party
Blessings:  Weekends, schedules that work.
Learned:  See above.  Plus more.  

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