A Loss of Permanence: Monumentality in the 21st Century

Presenting a paper recently on the monumental sculptural projects of Alexander Calder, David Smith, and Robert Smithson in Italy, as a part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s wonderful symposium The Course of Empires: American-Italian Cultural Relations, 1770-1980, (my presentation and the entire proceedings are viewable here, if you are so inclined), I drew upon two quotes from the mid-twentieth century on the topic of monumentality: … Continue reading A Loss of Permanence: Monumentality in the 21st Century

Public Sculpture is Having a Moment in the Midwest

On August 8, my beloved, complex, imperfect city of Chicago did the civic/art version of an historical battlefield reenactment…sort of. The event marked the fiftieth anniversary of the public unveiling on August 15, 1967 of Picasso’s untitled metal behemoth, now known simply as “The Picasso” (see Google Maps) or in its updated 2017 social media parlance, #EveryonesPicasso. So once again the mayor (Rahm Emanuel filling … Continue reading Public Sculpture is Having a Moment in the Midwest

Calder Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum

I am thrilled be giving the Fall 2016 Howard E. Wooden Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum, this Thursday, November 17. If you are in the greater Wichita area please join us. Alexander Calder, Large-Scale Sculpture, and the Public Sphere In the 1970s, Wichita put itself firmly on the map of the art world when it commissioned Joan Miró and Alexander Calder–two living artists at the height … Continue reading Calder Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum

Photography as (Public) Sculpture: Amanda Ross-Ho at MCA Chicago

IMG_0848As far as public sculpture goes, the notion of an opening date seems a little odd. Unless done under total secrecy or very quickly, such large scale projects reveal themselves over time, after periods of long installation, and yet one day they are fully realized, completed and ready for public consumption. This past Tuesday, 23 July, marked such a day for The Character and Shape of Illuminated Things.

IMG_0857The third commissioned work in the Plaza Project series at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the occasion was marked with an outdoor talk with the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist Amanda Ross-Ho and MCA curator Julie Rodrigues Widholm; speaking at the height of rush hour, on a beautiful, if blustery Chicago summer afternoon, the receding sunlight streaming through the skyscrapers surrounding the MCA. I mention the artist talk, not only because the idea was both insane (honking cabs! emergency sirens! random tourists wandering around!) and a perfect, surprisingly successful venue for discussion of a work that by its placement alone is meant to engage and implicate the public, but also because it threw into sharp focus some of the stronger formal and conceptual aspects of the work on view. Continue reading “Photography as (Public) Sculpture: Amanda Ross-Ho at MCA Chicago”

Tony Smith Public Art Wiki Project

Just a quick post about a really fantastic and very public project on public sculpture.  The International Network for the Conservation of Contemporary Art – North America (INCCA-NA) teamed up with Wikipedia’s WikiProject Public Art in August 2012 to launch the Artist Research Project, selecting the American sculptor Tony Smith as the inaugural artist. The project is an open call to photograph, research, document, and … Continue reading Tony Smith Public Art Wiki Project