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Ursula von Rydingsvard works on a monumental scale. For over thirty years, she has worked with red cedar, a soft and fragrant wood. Using both carving and construction techniques she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and glues the cedar beams which have been shaped by a circular saw. In a final, unifying action, von Rydingsvard rubs the sharply textured, exposed surfaces with graphite powder to create works of enormous grandeur and stirring intimacy.
Built slowly and incrementally from thousands of small cedar blocks, each work reveals the mark of the artist’s hand, her respect for physical labor, and deep trust of intuitive process. Her signature shapes are abstract yet refer to things in the real world from the modest to the majestic. These forms typically suggest domestic objects such as spoons, plates, and bowls; shovels, axes and other farm tools; women’s bonnets and lace collars; and vernacular architecture including barns, barracks, and fences. Her work also evokes great natural forms, from a craggy cliff side to a deep canyon, and phenomena, such as the forces of wind and water or the formation of the earth’s strata. Von Rydingsvard consistently endows each sculpture with tremendous dignity. In her hands, familiar forms become archetypal objects.
Von Rydingsvard regards her connection to wood as part of her history. She comes from a long line of Polish peasant farmers for whom wood provided basic shelter and tools to work the land. Her characteristic form is the bowl in its simplicity and variety. It appears in her work as a wide, shallow basin whose physical gravity recalls the Ocean Floor (1996); and as the five voluptuous bowls that comprise Krasavica II (1998-2001), Ukrainian for a beautiful young woman, whose overall shape conveys a fluid sense of movement despite its weighty volume. In von Rydingsvard’s work a pair of huge, wall-mounted plates may weep (Weeping Plates, 2005), and the enormous, horizontal, torqued shape of Droga (2009), or bride’s veil, undulates across the floor as the artist makes cedar flow like soft fabric. In sculptures filled with contradiction, the artist succeeds in expressing something raw and elemental with remarkable sophistication and grace.
Helaine Posner, Guest Curator
This traveling exhibition was organized by SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York and guest curated by Helaine Posner. The exhibition and its tour are made possible with the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Agnes Gund.
Ursula von Rydingsvard was the 2008 recipient of the Rappaport Prize.
British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy may well be the world’s best-known and most beloved contemporary artist. Since the late 1970s, he has traveled to sites across the globe to create an immense body of work made primarily with natural materials, among them sticks and branches, flowers and leaves, mud and stone, and rain and snow. Some of these sculptures are ephemeral, gossamer and delicate, and last only moments. Others tend towards permanence and are built of stone and based on pre-industrial architectural forms. Goldsworthy’s many and disparate works are united by their profound and multifaceted dialogues with geometry, nature, place, ritual, labor, and time expressed along several vectors: actual, experiential, seasonal, geological, historical, and cosmological.
While Goldsworthy’s most familiar works are made of wood, stone, and leaves, snow has been a vital material for his practice since the very beginning of his career. The artist is fascinated by snow as both a natural phenomenon and a sculptural material. He takes special interest in its complexity, and explains “…it is in the nature of snow to contradict. It turns the dark earth white – it can fall softly, or with a vigour that hurts. It is at the same time tough, gentle, dangerous, delicate, powerful, and hard.”
This exhibition brings together a small cross-section of Goldsworthy’s work with this frozen precipitate. Included are several photographs of snow-related projects; two large snowball drawings, created by the residue left behind by the melting of dirty, gritty, New York City street snowballs; and the video Shadow Stone Fold, in which the artist performs in real time with snow falling gently on a massive stone at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England.
In preparation for Goldsworthy's large-scale Sculpture Park installation, Snow House, the exhibition will include the original proposal drawings for Snow House, Goldsworthy's video artwork Snow Shadow, photographs of related ephemeral and permanent artworks, multi-media educational materials about the artist, and the historical relevance of Snow House, as well as repeated showings of the award-winning documentary on Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time.
This exhibition provides context for a future Andy Goldsworthy outdoor installation in the Sculpture Park.
Lucien Aigner (pronounced "aye-gner") was a pioneering photojournalist in the 1920s and 1930s whose 'photo stories' (several prints on one theme with Aigner's own accompanying text) place him in a unique and important role in the history of photojournalism. Aigner worked for many of the same periodicals as better-known peers such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and André Kertész, but stood apart from this illustrious group because he wrote his own articles and captions—in addition to taking his pictures—at a time when few photographers did so.
Aigner was born in Hungary in 1901 and worked throughout Europe and the United States as a photojournalist for many photo-illustrated magazines. He moved to New York City to avoid the threat of World War II, and restarted his career in America in the 1940s by changing his visual style to cater to American editors' tastes. He obtained work with important U.S. publications, but in the 1950s left New York for Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which effectively turned the spotlight off his photoreporting career. He opened a photo studio there, and although he enjoyed a brief resurgence of publicity later in life, Aigner remains under-recognized today. Like better-known colleagues such as Eisenstaedt and Capa, Aigner contributed significantly to the development of modern photojournalism and the acceptance of the candid news photograph. To the reading audience and magazine editors of the time, a quick shot of an important news event was better than no image at all. The visual quality of these photographs varied—at times gritty, grainy, or blurry—but they bore important, and sometimes the only, witness to a given situation. Because of the groundbreaking photographs captured by Aigner and his peers, such images are the norm in photojournalism today.
This exhibition is organized by guest curator Jennifer Uhrhane, an independent art consultant and curator.
DeCordova is grateful to Lucien Aigner's children—Anne-Marie Aigner, John P. Aigner, Steven A. Aigner, and Katherine Aigner Collins—for their help and enthusiasm for preserving their father's work and legacy.
Lucien Aigner: Photo/Story is funded, in part, by generous grants from the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation and the Land Fund.
Rachel Perry Welty has been creating obsessive, repetitive, and process-based works about aspects of her own life for over a decade. 24/7 is her first large-scale solo museum show and features Welty's major works in drawing, sculpture, collage, installation, video, photography, and social media–some of which has been created especially for this exhibition.
As a conceptual artist, Welty utilizes whatever methods or materials best communicate the concept or idea for the artwork. Her disparate practices are unified by an interest in investigating language and systems as well as a visual aesthetic that combines the spare, precision of Minimalism with the vivid color and irony of Pop Art. Welty's beautifully crafted work addresses a wide variety of issues including consumerism, suburbia, narcissism, information overload, language, the fleeting nature of experience, the passage of time, humor, and ultimately, life and death.
Welty takes daily life as her subject, incorporating the mundane and the extraordinary in equal measure. She appropriates the material that annoyingly, and sometimes mistakenly, inundates our lives as her subject, including spam emails, wrong number voice messages, receipts, twist ties, fruit stickers, Facebook updates, and even Muzak. The disposable minutiae of life is collected, organized, and transformed in poignant and visually surprising ways that uncover the poetic in the everyday. Whether painstakingly coding and copying her son's hospital receipts and records, creating brightly colored wallpaper from fruit stickers, or meticulously reporting her every action on Facebook, Welty's surprising transformations continually comment on and record what Welty calls, "the business of living."
Major funding provided by James and Audrey Foster, The Goldhirsh Foundation, a grant from the Artists' Resource Trust, Katherine Kirk and Malcolm Gefter, Barbara and Jonathan Lee, and an anonymous donor. Additional support provided by AT&T and John and Deborah French.
Watch videos of Rachel Perry Welty in her studio and installing at deCordova.
Follow Rachel Perry Welty on Twitter!
Drawing with Code brings together a selection of computer-generated art by the form's earliest and most important practitioners from the 1950s to today. The Providence-based collection of Anne and Michael Spalter is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the U.S. and shines a new light onto a darkened corner of the art historical record.
In our current digital environment when just about everyone holds the processing power of a full computer in their pocket, it is difficult to remember a time when computer technology was not involved in every aspect of our lives. In the arts—visual, cinematic, musical, dance, and theater—the computer has become not only an accepted, but in many cases, an intrinsic tool for artistic expression. The artists featured in Drawing with Code emerged in the early computer-era when the technology was rudimentary by current standards and its capabilities rarely extended beyond the world of computation. Merging their interests in art and coding, these practitioners came to be known as "Algorists," artists who employed original algorithms to create images. In addition to works on paper, Drawing with Code presents the work of two filmmakers, Lillian Schwartz and Stan VanDerBeek, who were brought into Bell Labs Research by Kenneth Knowlton to make some of the first computer art animations. These six animations were collaborations using Knowlton's BEFLIX (Bell Flicks) programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies.
The artists in Drawing with Code represent some of the earliest innovations in computer-generated art from the U.S., Europe, and Asia, pioneering a new form of collaboration between technology and art that pushed the boundaries of both.
Featured artists: Yoshiyuki Abe, Manuel Barbadillo, Jean-Pierre Hébert, Desmond Paul Henry, Sven Höglund / Bror Wikstörm, Sture Johannessen, Hiroshi Kawano, Kenneth Knowlton, Ben F. Laposky, Manfred Mohr, Vera Molnar, Frieder Nake, George Nees, Lillian F. Schwartz, Stan VanDerBeek, Roman Verotsko, Mark Wilson, and Edward Zajec.
This exhibition is organized by guest curator George Fifield, Director, Boston Cyberarts Inc. and is part of the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival.
Using a signature blend of sculpture and design, Barbara Gallucci reimagines the Museum's third-floor lobby as an indoor landscape with her "topiary" beanbag chairs and cork-covered terrace. Utopiary Terrace is a fully functional installation that references manicured lawns and the manufactured landscape while reflecting on the artist's long-standing interest in the place of nature in contemporary culture and how Modernist design helped shaped that relationship. Installed in a glass-enclosed area of the Museum, Gallucci's Utopiary Terrace also addresses deCordova's site as an indoor and outdoor venue for contemporary art, following the over-arching theme of the PLATFORM series.
"Topia," according to Gallucci, is a word fragment derived partly from the word utopia, an ideal but unattainable state which fueled much of Modernist ideology of the mid-20th century, and topiary, an artificially sculpted landscape. The sculptures' grass-like chenille covering evokes a mass-manufactured notion of "nature" and a human desire to control our environment. The curved, cork-covered platforms refer to, in equal measure, tiered, sculpted landscapes and Modernist architecture which first used the durable and natural material as floor covering – a prime example of which can be found in the 1938 historic home of Modernist architect and founder of the Bauhaus school, Walter Gropius, which is just down the road from deCordova.
In Utopiary Terrace we find nature "behaving" for culture; existing for our pleasure, functioning to bring comfort. One might say these sculptures are "in nature's image," but without the muss and fuss of real life or lawn.
The 2010-11 PLATFORM series is funded by James and Audrey Foster.