SAINT LOUIS SCULPTURE SCAVENGER HUNT Molly Moog Have you knowingly viewed any outdoor sculpture lately? Sculptures all over St. Louis await you at dedicated institutions such as City Garden and Laumeier Sculpture Park, as well as outside and inside our museums and dotting our city and county parks. Among a plethora of talented artists, are five Modern and Contemporary sculptors whose works appear and reappear across our city. With just a quick walk or ride from one neighborhood to another we can observe some of the career transitions of five sculptors whose works shape our local “artscape.”
Godiva Reisenbichler’s drawing of Mark Di Suvero’s Bornibus at Laumeier Sculpture Park.
RICHARD SERRA Known for his industrial-scale, site-specific sculptures, Richard Serra (b. 1939) has a long-standing relationship with St. Louis. In 1974, the City of St. Louis granted Serra his first public commission in the United States for Twain, completed in 1982, which occupies a full city block east of the Civil Courts building downtown. This site-specific horizontal sculpture comprises eight steel plates, each roughly ten feet tall, arranged in an open quadrilateral form that invites the viewer to enter and take refuge from the sounds of the city. A non-commemorative sculpture made from industrial materials, Twain challenged St. Louisans, many of whom were unfamiliar with Serra’s work. Due to public concern, changes in the planning of the Gateway Mall, and a laborious approval process, a decade passed after its commission before Twain was finally installed. Twain received renewed attention recently in the 2014 Saint Louis Art Museum exhibition, Sight Lines: Richard Serra’s Drawings for Twain. Nearby in the courtyard of the recently re-opened Pulitzer Arts Foundation is Richard Serra’s Joe, 1999. This giant torqued spiral in rusty-red steel is the first of a series and was commissioned by the foundation and director Emily Rauh Pulitzer, who also had a pivotal role in the commissioning of Twain. Joe named after Pulitzer’s late husband, publisher Joseph Pulitzer, Jr., references the form of natural spirals 09 ALLTHEARTSTL.COM FALL 2015
such as the nautilus shell. As visitors walk through the spiral, they must alter their movement due to the sculpture’s inward-slanting walls. An ever-shifting view of the sky gives a disorienting feeling until one reaches the relative openness of the inner core.
ALEXANDER CALDER American sculptor Alexander Calder (1898-1976) is known for both tiny and monumental kinetic sculptures, often in painted steel. Various St. Louis institutions display works by Alexander Calder including two stabile-mobiles, Phrygian Cap, 1963 at the Saint Louis Art Museum and Five Rudders, 1964 on the sculpture terrace of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the campus of Washington University. Calder constructed mobiles, suspended sculptures with hanging movable elements; stabiles, completely immobile sculptures; and stabile-mobiles, hybrid works with stabile bases topped by kinetic elements. The black, biomorphically-shaped vanes of the Kemper’s Five Rudders extend outward from a heavy red pyramidal base. In contrast, Phrygian Cap has a lighter, curvier black base, topped by shifting rounded steel facets painted red and blue. The top element of Phrygian Cap resembles the soft, slouching red hat, donned by French revolutionaries, that has come to symbolize liberty and freedom. The heavy rudders of Five Rudders and the top half of Phrygian Cap are designed to move on their own
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with a strong gust of wind. These works evidence Calder’s ability to counterbalance shade and color, weight and airiness, and stability and movement.
JACQUES LIPCHITZ The sculpture of Lithuanian Jacques Lipchitz (1891-1973) is well represented throughout St. Louis collections. Lipchitz’s first large-scale sculpture, The Bather, 1923-5, is a figurative bronze nude made during his years in Paris. Through dynamic planes and volumes Lipchitz re-envisions this traditional subject. Forest Park’s Steinberg Ice Rink is the site of Lipchitz’s Joie de Vivre, 1927, a loose tangle of ribbon-like bronze strands. Lipchitz created this sculpture to inspire his ill sister. The title, meaning “joy of life,” is reflected in the airiness and dynamism of this sculpture. One of Lipchitz’s later works, Birth of the Muses, 1944-50, is located at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Lipchitz made this bronze frieze in America after he fled France during World War II. After arriving in the United States his sculptural forms became more fluid, powerful, and agitated. At the same time, his subject matter became grander and more mythological, mirroring the Abstract Expressionist painters’ interest in spirituality and human origins. Birth of the Muses depicts the writhing and twisting body of Pegasus, the flying horse of the gods. The craters left by his hooves were said to have created springs on Mount Olympus from which the Greek muses were born. At the Mildred Lane
The Visual Art Quarterly of St. Louis