This exhibition explores how artists represent prolific growth, expansion, and transformation in the natural world and the built environment. Coiling vines and other forms of unruly vegetation spread across the surfaces of paintings and works on paper. Scenes of vast urban construction convey the pinnacle of human ambition and ingenuity, as well as the negative effects of overdevelopment of the land. Artworks inspired by cellular mutation and the expansion of the universe reveal an equal fascination with microscopic and cosmic levels of transformation.
Overgrowth also examines how generative growth and additive processes are instrumental to the making of art. Viewers will observe different speeds of artistic creation, from slow, meticulous brushstrokes to rapid, painterly gestures. Biomorphic sculptures on view expand outward into real space, as if compelled by a vital life force. Drawn from deCordova’s permanent collection—and featuring work by international, national, and New England artists acquired over the past fifty years—this exhibition demonstrates how ongoing change spans natural, man-made, and creative enterprises.
Artists in the exhibition:
Albert Alcalay, Laylah Ali, Sandra Allen, Jean Arp, Bremner Benedict, Robert Bermelin, Barbara Bosworth, Alan Bray, Nancy Burson, Jedediah Caesar, William Christopher, Brian D. Cohen, Leah De Prizio, Friedel Dzubas, Harold Edgerton, Chris Enos, Robert Eshoo, Larry Fink, Sean Foley, Lee Friedlander, Sheila Gallagher, Frank Gohlke, George Hagerty, Willy Heeks, Jon Imber, Constance Jacobson, Kieff, Laura Kim, Yeffe Kimball, Kurt Kranz, Alex S. MacLean, Mary Mattingly, Michael Mazur, Todd McKie. Laura McPhee, Henry Moore, Jeff Perrott, Rachel Perry, Gabor Peterdi, Bill Ravanesi, Cristi Rinklin, Aaron Rose, Donald Shambroom, David Benjamin Sherry, Edward Steichen, Barbara Takenaga, Lois Tarlow, Chris Taylor, Sumru Tekin, Harold Tovish, Sarah Walker, Gary Webb, David Wolf, Makoto Yabe
The exhibition is organized by Associate Curator Sarah Montross.
Funding generously provided by Robert E. Davoli and Eileen L. McDonagh, The Nathaniel Saltonstall Arts Fund, and Amy and Jonathan Poorvu.
This exhibition presents street photography, portraits, and experimental work by émigré photographers Lotte Jacobi (1896–1990) and Lisette Model (1901–1983), created while they each lived in Berlin, Paris, and New York from the 1930s to 1950s. Jacobi was an ambitious innovator, expanding her work from refined portraiture of cultural elites to experimental abstract images. Model’s iconic street photographs depict extreme disparities in society, enabled by her incisive eye and use of dramatic cropping to monumentalize urban dwellers. Both Jacobi and Model relied on an intuitive approach to create powerful yet quotidian images of people, whether in the studio or on the street. Presented in adjacent galleries, their work exemplifies the breadth of the revitalization of portraiture and innovations in photographic techniques in the early- to mid-twentieth century.
The exhibition is organized by Helen Lewandowski, Koch Curatorial Fellow
Urban Camera is dedicated to the memory of Catherine S. England, beloved deCordova trustee, philanthropist, and friend. It has been generously funded by an anonymous donor.
This winter, at the inspiration of Executive Director, John Ravenal, we inaugurated a new program in the second floor window gallery to bring focus to exceptional rarely seen artworks from deCordova’s permanent collection. Works will be rotated periodically to allow members and visitors to experience the breadth of artwork owned by the Museum. The first painting selected is Michael Mazur’s Ice Glen which came into the Collection as a gift from the artist in 1998.
Mazur, a New England-based artist, had a long and rich association with deCordova. The Museum owns twelve of his works, consisting of paintings, drawings, and prints. His art was shown in numerous exhibitions, including a retrospective in 1998. Mazur experimented with different mediums and artistic styles with the natural world as a consistent focus. His earliest works are muted representational variations of his source material but over time he adopted a more varied color palette and expressive gestural approach to painting.
Ice Glen belongs to Mazur’s early 1990s Branching series that marked his first foray into abstraction. This shift was influenced by his fascination with Chinese scroll painting from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). After undergoing heart surgery in 1993, Mazur began to paint compositions that resemble the delicate filigree of arteries. Here he employed an array of textural effects to produce lines in charcoal black and ghostly white that cascade over the surface of the canvas. Despite its non-representational style, the work recalls natural forms, such as bare winter branches or frost patterns. The overall effect is both turbulent and tranquil.
In addition to enabling the presentation of unseen works from the collection, this Highlights initiative also provides an opportunity to experiment with interpretative material in the galleries. In keeping with this idea, we invited Mazur’s widow, poet Gail Mazur, to respond to the painting in a manner she deemed appropriate. The work inspired her to write a poem, Ice Glen, which we are presenting alongside our standard interpretative text to add the enrichment of a voice from outside the Museum to our visitor’s experience.
ICE GLEN, 1993
Ice Glen, a side trip on our trip
to see old friends. Our plan,
a hike, and then there was the thought
of Hawthorne and Melville,
a century earlier, and their friends,
sitting on boulders singing,
drinking, and “telling tales,” calling
across the romantic mossed abyss—
we knew their incipient romance
crashed and burned…. Steamy
August afternoon in Stockbridge,
the sun above us a round flame.
Romantic to have thought of hiking up,
then down to the ravine, the icy chasm
someone once called a curious fissure.
Might it be like a bottomless well
we’d each drop a wishing stone into?
We only got close. What you saw there
you saw with your inner eye, a radiance;
what I saw was unfathomable, sunless.
Frigid, frosted, the air that turned us back.
Too cold for us, but we were laughing
as we fled to Main Street. Cold,
but I wish our two souls were there now
together in that dappled underworld.
Drawing Redefined presents the distinctive work of Roni Horn, Esther Kläs, Joëlle Tuerlinckx, Richard Tuttle, and Jorinde Voigt, artists who have maintained a discipline of drawing as a constituent element of their artistic practice. For these artists, drawing is a forum for experimentation, a study, and an expansion of the vocabulary of images that recur in their art. In these artists' hands and through their bodies, the traditional practice of drawing is transformed into an exploration of time and space manifest in forms beyond conventional linear representation in photographic, painterly, and sculptural work.
Drawing Redefined is accompanied by an exhibition catalogue featuring essays by Connie Butler, Chief Curator, Hammer Museum; Cathleen Chaffee, Curator, Albright-Knox Art Gallery; Veronica Roberts, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Blanton Museum of Art, University of Texas; Lexi Lee Sullivan, Assistant Curator, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum; and Jennifer Gross, Chief Curator, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum.
Organized by Jennifer Gross, Chief Curator and Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs.
Due to a shift in our exhibition schedule, The Sculptor's Eye will be closing a week earlier than originally planned.
Drawn from deCordova’s permanent collection, this exhibition features works on paper and photographs by more than thirty artists who are primarily considered sculptors. Their work reveals the multitude of connections between two- and three-dimensional art making processes and the means by which artists nurture and expand their creative vision.
On view are photographs of sculptural forms that explore shared issues of space and volume. Pencil and charcoal drawings display the inventive ways in which artists experiment with spatial illusion on flat surfaces with graphic gestures, contours, and colors. Plans for large-scale art installations exemplify the tradition of artists considering architectural and environmental spaces. Altogether, these works emphasize the interplay of materiality, line, and form across artistic mediums.
Sally F. Fine
Robert and Shana Parkeharrison
One of deCordova's first themed outdoor exhibitions, Architectural Allusions is an international group exhibition of new commissions, long-term loans, and permanent collection works that explores the presence of architecture in contemporary sculpture. Using concrete, granite, glass, and other materials, exhibiting artists reinvent architectural traditions from ancient ziggurats to modernist pavilions. The exhibition features work by Stephanie Cardon, Dan Graham, Esther Kläs, Sol LeWitt, Monika Sosnowska, Kenneth Snelson, and Oscar Tuazon.
Boston-based sculptor Stephanie Cardon presents Beacon, constructed of two 11-foot tall concrete pillars connected by planes of thin electric yellow cables. The structure forms a passageway that visitors can walk under and look up through to experience the optical vibrations of the fluorescent cable lattice.
German artist Esther Kläs created a commission for deCordova during the spring of 2015. Kläs’s Ferma(5) is composed of two granite slabs that evoke weathered, time-worn architectural ruins and stone-laid pathways. Resting on the earth and largely hidden from view, Ferma (5) is meant to be discovered amid the Sculpture Park’s forested grounds.
Los Angeles-based sculptor Oscar Tuazon created Partners for deCordova in 2014. The work comprises a concrete beam that extends up and over to connect with one of the Sculpture Park’s maple trees, forming an architectural lintel between nature and culture.
Dan Graham’s Crazy Spheroid: Two Entrances, a two-way mirrored glass pavilion sculpture, was purchased for deCordova’s collection in 2009. While walking into and around the reflective half-ellipse structure, a viewer’s perception is disrupted, which establishes new relationships between one’s body and the surrounding landscape of the Sculpture Park.
Sol LeWitt’s Tower (DC) recalls both stepped towers of ancient ziggurats and the repeating recession of the façade of modern skyscrapers. Previously on long-term loan to the institution, deCordova recently acquired Tower (DC) in honor of Boston gallerist Barbara Krakow, who was recognized at deCordova’s Black and White in the Park gala.
Exhibited outdoors for the first time, Polish artist Monika Sosnowksa’s monumental sculpture Tower was installed in May 2015. Sosnowska’s sculpture is one of deCordova’s largest installations to date, measuring over 100 feet in length. Tower directly references the iconic architecture of Mies van der Rohe, specifically his Lake Shore Drive apartments in Chicago, Illinois. The sculpture is based on a portion of the building’s steel façade, which the artist has contorted into a cylindrical form. Tower challenges distinctions between architecture and sculpture.
Kenneth Snelson’s Wiggins Fork was added to the Sculpture Park during summer 2014. Constructed with stainless steel rods and tension wires, the sculpture is engineered to appear light and effortless despite its strength in design. Since the 1960s, Snelson has been employing the technical forces of compression and tension to create structures that are composed of both flexible and rigid components.