Dewitt Godfrey is best known for his large, playful, rubber band-like steel sculptures. In line with these works, Lincoln, is composed of eighty cylinders of various sizes and shapes piled onto one another. This low-lying, horizontal sculpture, made specifically for the Sculpture Park’s front lawn, mimics the gentle curves of the deCordova landscape and encourages visitors to pass through and explore what’s on the other side. Godfrey describes his steel sculptures as buttresses that perfectly support a unique space, and create a relationship of dependency between landscape and object. At over 150 feet long, Lincoln, is one of the largest works ever shown in the Sculpture Park and Godfrey’s most expansive to date.
Godfrey’s steel ellipses are at once flexible and stiff, flimsy and strong. The different shaped circles that spill down the hillside appear to be put together by chance but are actually shaped by the artist, who forms the steel pieces and bolts them together. When doing so, Godfrey takes into account the ability of the material to absorb stress and tension, resulting in unique, non-traditional forms. As a combination of individual elements, Godfrey’s constructions are not singular, autonomous sculptures, but a network of mutually supportive elements.
The use of industrial materials and the large scale of Godfrey’s installations connect him with Minimalist sculptors of the 1970s including Richard Serra, whose large-scale corten steel works are hulking, heavy, imposing forms. Godfrey’s work takes the physicality and presence of Minimalist sculptures and imbues them with a sense of movement and buoyancy. Unlike Minimalist sculpture that is fixed and often described as ‘cold,’ Godfrey’s works are hollow and light.
DeWitt Godfrey studied at Yale University before receiving his MFA from Edinburgh College of Art. He is currently associate professor at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, where he is also director of the Institute for the Creative and Performing Arts. Godfrey has had solo exhibitions at Picker Gallery, New York, NY; Black & White Gallery, Brooklyn, NY; Butler Gallery, Houston, TX among many others. Public installation has become a focus of Godfrey’s practice, with many outdoor projects, including sculptures at Mt. Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, Massachusetts; Kennedy Art Museum, Athens, Ohio; and Café Paloma, Cambridge, Massachusetts.