Tuesday, March 04, 2008

At the Museum: Sculpture on the Museum Grounds

Now that the weather is getting better, it’s a good time to come visit the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and stroll around the grounds viewing the numerous sculptures on display outdoors. Five works are in the sculpture garden, and eight more are distributed around the building.

On the north side of the North Garden is the “Torso of a Young Woman” by the French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917). Rodin is perhaps the best-known figurative sculptor of the modern era. This small bronze torso was created in 1909, just a year after he moved to the Hôtel Biron in Paris, which is today the Musée Rodin. It was, like many of his sculptures, not cast until after his death; in this case the Torso was cast in 1959.

On the east side of the garden is “Eve”, by the American sculptor Laura Ziegler (b.1927). Ziegler clearly works within the figurative sculptural tradition she shares with Rodin. However, Ziegler seems interested in expressing a particular emotion on the part of the subject - the anguish Eve felt on being banished from the Garden of Eden. Rodin’s work, on the other hand, is expressive of the artist’s interest in form and content; in other words, it is more about the artist than the subject. In Eve the viewer is drawn into the emotional world of the subject, not the artist.

Nearby, the visitor will find Donald DeLue’s “Spirit Triumphant” (1971), a one-third size model from the State of Louisiana memorial at the Gettysburg battlefield. This bronze represents the survival of the spirit; the split laurel tree represents the South and the North, which are eventually united by the dove of peace spanning the two branches.

Recently, we added Atlanta artist Andrew Crawford's "Fiddlehead," a steel sculpture donated in 2002. It evokes both the curve of a violin and the organic quality of the fiddlehead fern.

Eight sculptures by David Hayes are on display outdoors at LRMA until August 31, 2008. Hayes has developed a unique formal vocabulary of biomorphic forms. The surprisingly organic-looking assemblages contrasts with the material: flat plates of unbending industrial-strength steel. The works in the “Screen Sculpture” series are painted solid black, while the rest of the sculptures on the Museum grounds are painted. The scale of the steel works is comfortably human; ranging from about 4' - 8' high. The works do not tower over and dominate the average person, but are not so small they can be deemed inconsequential. Repeated viewing over the course of the next year, in different seasons, times of day, walking or driving by, and under varying skies, will result in different experiences with the sculpture. Don’t forget to walk all the way around the back of the museum to see “Grenouille,” which faces 4th Street and the LRMA parking lot.

In the Museum Annex courtyard is Bruce White’s stainless steel “Untitled” (1972). White, a New Jersey native, now lives and works in Chicago. Bruce White's work has been described as "an elegant union of ancient symbolism and contemporary science." His preferred materials are stainless steel and aluminum, although he has created works in bronze and granite--essentially materials which lend themselves to permanance. In addition to sculpture for residential and commercial interiors, he has done numerous large scale exterior public works.

Finally, on the South side of the front lawn is Arthur Silverman’s “Cor-Ten Duo #3” (1981). Silverman is a New Orleans-based sculptor who has long been fascinated with the mathematical and aesthetic qualities of tetrahedrons. This sculpture may be familiar to mall-goers, as it was in display at the Sawmill Square Mall for several years. I’d advise giving it a second look in a natural setting, however, as the expansive space and natural light really work to the sculpture’s advantage.

The loan of the Rodin and Zeigler sculptures from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. was made possible by the Museum Loan Network - a national collection-sharing program funded by the John. S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Pew Charitable Trusts, and administered by MIT’s Office of the Arts. The Sculpture Garden is open during regular LRMA hours: 10:00 am to 4:45 pm Tuesday through Saturday, and 1:00 to 4:00 on Sunday; the rest of the sculptures are accessible year-round. For more information about museum programs and exhibitions, call (601) 649-6374 or check our website at www.lrma.org.

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