This weekend, I visited Storm King Art Center with my husband and friends. Widely celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks, Storm King Art is located only an hour north of New York City and provides the setting for a collection of more than 100 carefully sited sculptures created by some of the most acclaimed artists of our time. I’ve included photos of some of my favorite sculptures with partial descriptions lifted from the Storm King website.
“Gazebo for Two Anarchists” is one of several works Siah Armajani has dedicated to twentieth-century anarchists—in this case, brother and sister Alberto and Gabriella Antolini, the latter of whom was imprisoned for transportation of explosives in the Youngstown Affair in 1918. The open lattice, or truss-work, suggests incarceration. The two gazebos at each end of the structure appear to symbolize the brother and sister, who are separated but nonetheless connected by the bridge. Each gazebo encloses a large chair with armrests that recall thrones or electric chairs. They are facing one another, suggesting an act of communication.
Chakaia Booker works almost exclusively with recycled tires—slicing, twisting, stripping, weaving, and riveting rubber and radials to create and exaggerate the textures, prickled edges, and torqued forms of her radical refashioning. Booker transforms tires—iconic symbols of urban waste and blight—into extraordinary compositions of renewal. Discarded and now re-used, the tires are metaphors for the modern cycle of industrial manufacture and waste in an era of global expansion. “A Moment in Time” alludes not only to environmental degradation and decay but also to the possibility of transformation and redemption through the artist’s own brand of environmental spiritualism.
George Cutts’s “Sea Change” is composed of two identical, slender, curving, stainless steel poles that turn slowly in opposite directions. The poles are anchored to motorized disks that are sunk below ground and encased in a concrete box. The slow, synchronized rotations of the poles produce fluid, undulating movement as the poles seem to sway and flex, blending the mechanical with the natural. An experienced deep sea diver, Cutts has noted that he intends this lyrical, kinetic sculpture to evoke the motion of seaweed as it moves with the flow of ocean waves and currents
Zhang Huan’s work engages with Buddhist philosophy and rituals and with the artist’s notion that the contemporary condition is continually revitalized through an engagement with the past. Three Legged Buddha—a copper and steel sculpture standing twenty-eight feet high and weighing more than twelve tons—represents the bottom half of a sprawling, three-legged figure, one of whose feet rests on an eight-foot-high human head (a self portrait of the artist) that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth.
The two simple forms of Menashe Kadishman’s “Suspended” engage in a gravity-defying balance that belies expectation. Seen from a distance, atop one of two adjacent hilltops, the sculpture’s balancing act is surprising. Viewed up close, the massive scale of the steel work becomes apparent and its structural viability even more difficult to comprehend. With no visible evidence of the engineering holding the sculpture up, the mass seemed to float freely in space.
In a second sculpture by Kadishman, he focused on nature, particularly on tree and forest themes, and worked on an environmental scale. “Eight Positive Trees” reveals this ongoing fascination, which harkens back to his youth, when, like many other Israeli children, he planted trees throughout the new country.
Grace Knowlton created “Spheres” out of materials including concrete, clay, copper, steel, and iron. All bear subtle and unique imperfections that evidence their hand-crafted origins. The spheres—of widely varied scale—seem to walk a fine line between natural object and work of art when placed in Storm King’s environment. She initially set out to make ceramic pots, until, as she has said, “I got so interested in closing the pots, in making a secret space closed off forever, that it caught me and I never went back.”
Viewed from above, the undulating swells of earth forming Storm King “Wavefield” appear to naturally rise from and roll along the grassy terrain. The seven nearly four-hundred-foot-long waves, ranging in height from ten to fifteen feet high, proceed at the same scale as a series of mid-ocean waves. The resulting effect recalls the experience of being at sea, where sight of adjacent waves and land is lost between the swells.
The individual pickets of Alyson Shotz’s “Mirror Fence” share their shape and height with picket fences enclosing front and back yards all across the United States, but Shotz’s fence is reflective and extends in a straight line, enclosing nothing.
The artist is interested in making objects that change infinitely, depending on their surroundings. The light at different times of day, the weather … what the viewers are wearing, all these are just some of the variables that will make the piece different every time one comes in contact with it.
When conceiving of “Free Ride Home”, Kenneth Snelson first created a small maquette of metal tubes and knotted strings, envisioning what it would be like to walk under and through its silvery linear forms. One of the arches began to take on a descending fast plunge and it reminded her of the shape of a bucking horse. So, Free Ride Home, the name of a race horse, became the name of the sculpture. Inspired by anatomy, cables function like muscles and the aluminum tubes like bones.
“Day Game” slithers, loops, and rises from the ground, its form suggesting an animated quality, as if the steel were electrified by a charge of dynamic energy. Its calligraphic qualities reflect Stoltz’s training as a graphic artist.
You can find out more information and sculptures on the Storm King website. Which ones are your favorites?