Skip to main content
Humanities LibreTexts

11.2: Sculpture (1900-1999)

  • Page ID
    220018
  • \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\) \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    ( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\) \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\) \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\) \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\id}{\mathrm{id}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\kernel}{\mathrm{null}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\range}{\mathrm{range}\,}\)

    \( \newcommand{\RealPart}{\mathrm{Re}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\ImaginaryPart}{\mathrm{Im}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Argument}{\mathrm{Arg}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\norm}[1]{\| #1 \|}\)

    \( \newcommand{\inner}[2]{\langle #1, #2 \rangle}\)

    \( \newcommand{\Span}{\mathrm{span}}\) \( \newcommand{\AA}{\unicode[.8,0]{x212B}}\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorA}[1]{\vec{#1}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorAt}[1]{\vec{\text{#1}}}      % arrow\)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorB}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorC}[1]{\textbf{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorD}[1]{\overrightarrow{#1}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectorDt}[1]{\overrightarrow{\text{#1}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vectE}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash{\mathbf {#1}}}} \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecs}[1]{\overset { \scriptstyle \rightharpoonup} {\mathbf{#1}} } \)

    \( \newcommand{\vecd}[1]{\overset{-\!-\!\rightharpoonup}{\vphantom{a}\smash {#1}}} \)

    Introduction

    By the 1960s, the concept of sculptures had changed, and the trend towards abstract and figurative was firmly in place, as traditional ideas were rejected. New materials were available, and sculptors began to experiment with them. During this period, they also brought more sophistication to creating and manufacturing sculptures, especially oversized images. Sculptors no longer made a single figure out of marble or bronze and using multiple materials involved additional people beyond the artist. Projects, particularly outdoors, became collaborative efforts with landscape designers and site architects. Site-specific and environmental works on a grand scale were pioneered during this period. The landscape was the basis for the sculpture for some artists, and works were integrated into existing environments.

    Materials were important choices for each artist based on technology and the placement in an environment. Those sculptors using metal needed a broad expanse of space and technology to cast or weld the metal. Other sculptors who made large works in factories required trucks and oversized cranes to transport and install their work. Some artists found materials in the environment to create a natural work, while others transformed natural elements with unnatural materials. Some art was permanently installed in this period, while others were temporary and responsive to natural forces. Artists in this section include:

    • Xu Bing (1955-) 
    • Nam June Paik (1932-2006) 
    • Katsura Funakoshi (1951-)
    • Ruth Asawa (1926-2013)
    • Heri Dono (1960-)
    • Isamu Noguchi (1904 –1988)
    • Lee Ufan (1936-)
    • Huang Yong Ping (1954-2019)

    Xu Bing

    Xu Bing (1955-) was born in Chongqing and spent his childhood in Beijing, where his father taught at Peking University. Xu was sent to the countryside during the Cultural Revolution for the re-education program. After Mao Zedong died and his revolution ended, Xu returned to Beijing and received his master's degree in fine arts. As part of the Tiananmen Square protests 1989, political pressure caused Xu and others to move to the United States. Xu had focused on printmaking in China, supporting the ideals of Social Realism predominant at the time. In the United States, he used printmaking concepts to create his incredible installations. Xu liked to communicate through language and demonstrate how easy it is to manipulate the meanings of words. His work uses both traditional and experimental ideas in printmaking and book construction. 

    Xu made Book from the Sky, composed of four books displayed in parts so the viewer is immersed in the sculpture. Parts are on the floor (11.2.1), the ceiling, and the wall (11.2.2). The books are filled with four thousand characters Xu invented. He wanted to demonstrate how words and writing look authentic; however, words can also be deceiving and distorted. Xu made the strokes for each character appear to be accurate until they were examined closely. He based the font style on the style first seen in the Song Dynasty and later standardized by the Ming Dynasty, morphing them into original characters (11.2.3). He carved each character from pear wood to make each piece movable type and had the work printed in one of the few traditional print factories remaining in China.  

    rows of text printed on paper
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Book from the Sky (floor) (hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type; ink on paper, ca.1987-1991) (profzuckerCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    wall of text
    Figure \(\PageIndex{2}\): Book from the Sky (ceiling and wall) (profzuckerCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    close up of Chinese characters
    Figure \(\PageIndex{3}\): Book from the Sky (print) (profzuckerCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    Book from the Sky

    Xu Bing, Book from the Sky, c. 1987-91, hand-printed books and ceiling and wall scrolls printed from wood letterpress type; ink on paper, each book, open: 18 1/8 × 20 inches / 46 × 51 cm; each of three ceiling scrolls 38 inches × c. 114 feet 9-7/8 inches / 96.5 × 3500 cm; each wall scroll 9 feet 2-1/4 inches × 39-3/8 inches / 280 × 100 cm

     

    Xu's sculpture, Phoenix (11.2.4), was installed in a church in New York City. The bird was based on the concept of Fenghuang, a mythological bird that symbolizes harmony and virtue. Xu salvaged debris, tubing, and workers discarded tools, shovels, and drills from demolition sites in China to create his two giant birds. He named one bird Feng, the male bird (30 meters long), and Huang, the female bird (27 meters long), and together, they weighed over twelve tons. Xu said, "The phoenix of today's China bears countless scars. It has lived through great hardship. But it has adorned itself with great respect."[1] Xu started creating the idea of the rising phoenix when he saw the low-tech methods used to construct high-tech buildings. 

    metal sculpture of a flying dragon
    Figure \(\PageIndex{4}\): Phoenix Flying (misc. debris and tools, 2008, 27.4 x 30.4 m.) (catchesthelightCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    Phoenix

    A look at “Phoenix,” a monumental project by Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing, which is installed at The Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine.

     

    Nam June Paik

    Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was born in Seoul, Korea; his father owned a large textile company. He was the youngest of five children and trained as a pianist as a child. During the Korean War, the family fled to Hong Kong and then Japan, where, in 1956, he received a BA in aesthetics from the University of Tokyo. Paik went to West Germany to study music further and became part of a new experimental art group. When he moved to the United States in the early 1960s, Paik started to experiment with synthesizers and how to manipulate musical sounds. He first used a Sony recorder until 1967, when Sony introduced a new portable video tape recorder, giving Paik the platform he needed and creating a new direction in art. Paik's first exhibition was based on thirteen television sets. He continued to use TV sets for experiments, spanning the capabilities of technology and art. By 1974, he proposed the electronic information superhighway, connecting cities and people with satellites, coaxial cables, and fiber optics. Paik wanted to distribute videos freely, flowing through the information highway. His optimism and forward-thinking forecasted the future, and he is internationally considered the Father of Video Art. Paik also began to make installations from old television sets and video monitors to display different images on closed circuits across the installation. He used television sets to make robots, adding wire, metal, and miscellaneous parts. Paik understood the future capabilities of imagery and used files and video as multi-textual art forms. "Using television, as well as the modalities of single-channel videotape and sculptural/installation formats, he imbued the electronic moving image with new meanings…transforming the electronic moving image into an artist's medium, part of the history of the media art."[2]

    Paik used television sets to create the American flag; in this installation, Video Flag (11.2.5), seventy sets are primarily programmed to red, white, and blue images. He used magnets to manipulate the signals and synthesizers, video feedback, and various technologies to create different colors and shapes. Paik made several other installations of flags in a variety of sizes. In this flag, he projected on a continuous loop, 24 hours a day, different images of political images. Technology has a finite ability to continue working, and all of Paik's flag installations have been undergoing conservation efforts, using new technology and wiring to preserve the mechanisms. 

    US flag on tv monitor
    Figure \(\PageIndex{5}\): Video Flag (1996, 70 CRTs, wiring, fans, metalwork, power strips) (, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    1964, when Paik first came to America, the interstate highway system was only nine years old and was established under Eisenhower's presidency. The highway ran from coast to coast, linking the country's states. At the time, detailed maps guided the drivers from state to state. Restaurants and motels were constructed nationwide, neon nights burned brightly, and different states presented different cultures. The entire country also embraced the television set, linking the news and daily events with the homes of America. Paik recognized how to use video media to connect people and how it would transform everyone's life. He created Electronic Superhighway (11.2.6), a massive installation of 336 television sets, 50 DVD players, 3,750 feet of cable, and 575 feet of multicolored neon tubing. [3] On the different monitors, he plays images to represent each state surrounded by flashing neon light tubes. Paik wanted to display his vision of how technology and communication would advance. Megatron Matrix (11.2.7) was an installation of 215 monitors. Paik played different clips in sections, some based on his images from his home country of South Korea and others different ideas of entertainment and culture of the United States. Paik's installations were prophetic of the world's future information age. 

    US map in neon
    Figure \(\PageIndex{6}\): Electronic Superhighway: Continental US (1995, 313 monitors, neon, steel structure, sound, 4.5 x 9.7 x 1.2 meters) (, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
    large hand and faces on tv screens
    Figure \(\PageIndex{7}\): Megatron/Matrix (1995, eight-channel video installation, custom electronics, color, sound, 335.3 x 1005.8 x 121.9 cm) ( Ryan Somma,  CC BY 2.0)
    Electronic Superhighway

    Robots, video synthesizers, experimental music⁠—discover the multidimensional creative world of electronic artist Nam June Paik. Working across media since the 1960s, Paik established himself as an early innovator of video art, setting the scene for many of today’s contemporary art practices. Through groundbreaking performances, immersive artworks, and interdisciplinary collaborations, Paik established new approaches to music and television, and changed the way we look at screens.

     

    Katsura Funakoshi 

    Katsura Funakoshi (1951-) is one of Japan's leading visual artists living in Tokyo. His father was a sculptor, and Funakoshi first learned from him. He attended the Tokyo University of Art and Design for his Bachelor of Arts and the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music for a Master of Arts degree. Funakoshi became a serious carver in 1980 using camphor wood. Thematically, he combined Asian and Western features in the sculpture and mixed reality with fantasy to develop a certain spirituality. His trademark was to carve the hybrid figures from the waist up, each one different. Funakoshi used the wood grain as a visible carving strategy and added marks from his carving tools. Funakoshi generally left the crown or top of the head unpainted when he painted or polished the figure. He made the eyes luminescent, almost life-like, to engage the viewer. The materials he used for each sculpture were essential to him. Funakoshi stated, "I'm interested in human existence, a statement concerning humanity. The material I use- wood for sculpture, paper for drawings, and charcoal or pencil- is important, as it influences the result. I am seeking the perfect tension or moment between the material and the image."[4]

    Am I Floating? (11.2.8) is made from camphor wood, and her arms and torso are painted with light and almost translucent turquoise. Her shoulders are pushed upward, giving more room on her chest for the pendulous breasts. The statue is not decorated or distorted with other images, making her relatively simple. A Lunar Eclipse in Forest (11.2.9) followed the same format for the image; only the torso was distorted, and her neck elongated. Made from camphor wood and painted in tones of sienna, the body is the lightest section. Her hands appear as appendages on the rounded wings, and she stands on four thin legs, helping to balance her spherical body. In Am I Floating? the figure looks straight out at the viewer, while the figure looks downward in this image.

    nude woman carved from wood
    Figure \(\PageIndex{8}\): Am I Floating? (2011, painted camphor wood, marble, 103.5 x 29 x 32 cm) ( Annie Guilloret, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    a women with stick legs and short hands
    Figure \(\PageIndex{9}\): A Lunar Eclipse in Forest (2007, painted camphor wood, marble, miscellaneous wood, 212 x 134 x 139 cm) (jdlasicaCC BY 2.0)

    Ruth Asawa

    Ruth Asawa (1926-2013) was born in California; her parents were immigrants from Japan. As California farmers, when World War II started, Asawa and her family were sent to an internment camp in Arkansas. Even though Asawa's father lived in the United States for forty years, he was suspected of being a spy and separated from the family for six years in a different camp. Asawa's younger sister happened to be visiting Japan and was forced to stay there during the war. The relocation camp was next to a swamp, and the smell and poor water made life difficult. The family lived in the hastily constructed tar-paper barracks identified as Block 13. About the camp, Asawa said, "I hold no hostilities for what happened; I blame no one. Sometimes, good comes through adversity. I would not be who I am today had it not been for the Internment, and I like who I am."[5]

    She had time to draw during the camp, and others recognized her talent. A Quaker organization gave her a scholarship to attend college in Wisconsin after only spending eighteen months in internment. She would not see her family for almost five years. After the war, she studied at Black Mountain College, where she started experimenting with wire. Crocheting the wire and hanging them from the ceilings became Asawa's focus.  

    Asawa has always explored new techniques for constructing abstracted forms using wire. She visited a village in Mexico and studied the villagers' methods of making wire baskets. She said, "I was interested in it because of the economy of a line, making something in space, enclosing it without blocking it out. It's still transparent. I realized that if I was going to make these forms, which interlock and interweave, it could only be done with a line because a line can go anywhere.[6]

    Asawa's looped wire sculptures (11.2.10) are grouped, three-dimensional works that created their additional images based on the position of light and shadows. During this time of day, only a few sculptures project their images on different walls, which appear to be eight unique pieces, yet only three actual sculptures. The shadows portray the exact image of each hanging object. The position of the light also changes how long the sculpture appears on each wall. The sculptures are hand-tied and crocheted. 

    baskets hanging from the ceiling
    Figure \(\PageIndex{10}\): Looped wire (copper, brass, or Montel wire) (CTG/SFCC BY-NC 2.0)

    When Asawa first saw a plant from the desert, she observed how tangled it was and decided to replicate it in wire so she could draw a proper image. When handling the wire, she opened up the center and pushed the small pieces outward, creating a flat image. Her wall-mounted images (11.2.11, 11.2.12) were made by tying the wire with branch-like forms. Each form has a geometric center and four to seven points. Each point defines how many branches and the shape of the branches. On some of her wall-mounted sculptures, Asawa used reverse electroplating or galvanizing the wire to add layers of rough, colorful-looking skin similar to bark. As with Asawa's ceiling mounting sculptures, those on the wall reflect the light and produce independent shadows on nearby surfaces. 

    metal tree branches on a white wall
    Figure \(\PageIndex{11}\): Untitled (tied wire, 1967) (Xyz1018, CC BY-SA 4.0)
    metal tree branches on a wall
    Figure \(\PageIndex{12}\): Untitled (tied wire) (rocorCC BY-NC 2.0)
    Ruth Asawa

    In this new short documentary, discover the exhibition Ruth Asawa: Citizen of the Universe through the words of the visionary artist herself. “When I was in the (internment) camp in Arkansas, we had our fortunes told. So I was told that I probably should be an artist.” - Ruth Asawa The exhibition Ruth Asawa: Citizen of the Universe (28 May - 21 August 2022) takes a unique look at the visionary artist, educator and activist Ruth Asawa (b. 1926, Norwalk, CA – d. 2013, San Francisco, CA). In this short documentary to accompany the exhibition, get insights into the making of Ruth Asawa’s signature hanging sculptures in looped and tied wire, and hear from Modern Art Oxford Chief Curator, Emma Ridgway about the artist’s inspiring holistic integration of art, education and community.

     

    In the 1960s, Asawa began working on large-scale sculptures interacting with water. She wanted to involve the community in the fountain in San Francisco near Union Square (11.2.13). She had over two hundred children help her design images of different parts of San Francisco. Each of the unique sections of the city was assembled into a map, including Chinatown (11.2.14) and Lombard Street (12.2.15), all designed with the children's help. Asawa had the children model their ideas in bakers' dough, which was baked in an oven to harden them. The parts were cast in bronze. She created multiple sculptural fountains in the city and became known as the "fountain lady."  

    decorative carved stone on a stairway
    Figure \(\PageIndex{13}\): San Francisco Fountain (bronze, 1973, 2.3 m high x 4.9 m in diameter) (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    carving in stone of city life
    Figure \(\PageIndex{14}\): Part of San Francisco Fountain; Chinatown (wallygCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    lombard street carved into stone
    Figure \(\PageIndex{15}\): Part of San Francisco Fountain: Lombard Street (wallygCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Heri Dono

    Heri Dono (1960-) was born in Jakarta, Indonesia, and studied art at the Indonesian Art Institute. He was not encouraged to be an artist as a child and was punished whenever he drew in his exercise books. However, he pursued and spent seven years at the art institute and two more years learning the Indonesian style of puppetry. Dono gathers materials from multiple places worldwide, focusing on materials used in ordinary people's lives. Much of his work is based on Indonesia's political and social troubles. He uses an international approach with materials and ideas while incorporating local traditions.

    In Glass Vehicles (11.2.16), Dono creates no masculine or feminine figures, only trying to represent the everyman or, in Indonesia, the 'orang kecil.' The figure identifies one of a privileged group instead of an individual person. The archetypal 'orang kecil' figures are dolls fashioned as half human and half doll-like. Dono was trained in making wayang puppets, and he used these techniques to make these figures. Each object stands inside a large, glass, multisided container generally used to hold prawn crackers. Dono added legs and wheels to each glass container, alluding to the fragility of Indonesia's transportation system.   

    metal carts with dolls in glass
    Figure \(\PageIndex{16}\): Glass Vehicles (glass, fiberglass, cloth, lamps, sable, iron, toy carriages, 1995, 125 x 40 x 40 cm each) (TheenCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

    Dono liked to use elements of Indonesian culture's words, images, and myths. He frequently represented people as royalty, clowns, puppets, and even angels, all without any fixed definition. An image may be a man or woman or positioned in any direction. Dono was particularly fond of using corruption, political figures, and the influence of mass media as his subject matter. Political Clowns (11.2.17) are made with fifteen oversized clown heads. The clown is a repeated theme Dono uses in much of his work. Each face has oversized lips, exaggerated eyebrows, and enhanced paint around the eyes. The disembodied heads are set on skeletal-like structures imitating a body. The cords tumbling throughout the space interconnect the figures and light the small flames in each person. 

    bald painted heads mounted on wood
    Figure \(\PageIndex{17}\): Political Clowns (fiberglass, bulb, bottles, metal, cable, tin can, acrylic, plastic pipe, 1999) (Nieuws uit AmsterdamCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Isamu Noguchi 

    Isamu Noguchi (1904 –1988) was born in California, the son of a Japanese poet. After high school, Noguchi went to work as an apprentice to a sculptor. However, most of his work was finding models and his mentor told Noguchi he would not be a sculptor and suggested he follow his original idea of being a doctor. Noguchi enrolled at Columbia University in pre-med and one of the professors suggested he reconsider and major in art. He decided to pursue art and become a sculptor. He traveled to other countries, studying and working on his ideas. At first, he made abstract sculptures and then only created portrait busts to make a living. During World War II, he volunteered to be interned at the Poston Camp, where he continued working on his designs. After the war ended, he returned to New York, finally becoming successful. 

    The Red Cube (11.2.18) is a three-dimensional parallelogram, not a cube. The cube is made of steel and designed to collaborate with the horizontal and vertical definition of the surrounding buildings; the cube is sited on the diagonal, appearing to be rolling. The bright red cube presents a stunning contrast to the black, brown, and white buildings surrounding the cube. Through the center of the cube is a cylindrical hole painted gray, moving the viewer’s eye through the cube to the building. Noguchi believed art should blend in with its surroundings. Noguchi was known for his interlocking sculptures made from multiple materials and assembled without glue or screws. Although he used different materials, stone was his preferred medium. Noguchi also took geometric shapes and distorted them, making them more organic. 

    The Void series, a collection of abstract sculptures was first conceived during Noguchi's time in Italy. The largest sculpture in the series, Energy Void (11.2.19), was carved in 1971 at his studio on the island of Shikoku, Japan, where Noguchi spent much of his career working with the local stones of basalt and granite. Energy Void, standing at roughly 6 feet in height, was crafted from black Swedish granite, and Noguchi even built his studio around it. The sculptures in the Void series highlight the importance of negative space in art, drawing from Zen Buddhist beliefs centered on emptiness. Noguchi was also inspired by the laws of physics, which dictate the continuous flow of energy through all matter. This concept is reflected in the never-ending loop of the Energy Void sculpture, capturing the timeless essence of life and energy.

    red metal cube on point
    Figure \(\PageIndex{18}\): The Red Cube (968, steel, aluminum, 24 feet tall, installation view, 140 Broadway, New York) (wallygCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
    stone carved into an O shape
    Figure \(\PageIndex{19}\): Energy Void (181.61 × 156.21 × 57.15 cm, Swedish Granite) (jpellgenCC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

    Lee Ufan

    Lee Ufan (1936-) was born in the Korean province of South Kyongsang. As a child, he lived in Korea during the Japanese occupation and learned Korean and Japanese art traditions, especially inkbrush painting. Lee went to Nihon University in Tokyo, earned a degree in philosophy, and applied his philosophical beliefs to his artwork. Lee also spent much of his time on politics and the reunification of North and South Korea while developing his ideas as an artist. He combined Eastern and Western ideas and aesthetics, emphasizing "system, structure, and process through fields of dots or lines to create tension between his gestures and the picture plane while marking the passage of time."[7] Lee and other artists formed Mono-ha, or the School of Things, and Lee was the leader. They rejected Western ideas and focused on the relationships of space and matter and the use of materials with little additional manipulation. Lee stated they were not just presenting an object; "rather, we were examining the relationship between object and space, or between object and object."[8] Other movements were happening in the United States and Europe, such as minimalism. Mono-ha became Japan's version of a movement. 

    Relatum (11.2.20) comprises four sheets of rusted steel with large boulders appearing to hold the whole structure together. The weathering metal provides a vivid contrast with the stones. Lee used the stones to represent nature and the natural elements of the earth and metal to symbolize the hard, cold, and unfeeling industrial objects. From his early time in the Mono-ha period, Lee limited his use of materials to stone – a natural thing from the unknown world- and metal – building materials from the modern world. 

    3 pieces of steel held upright by rocks
    Figure \(\PageIndex{20}\): Relatum (1978, stone, iron) (Statler, CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Lee uses the concept of a long, rounded piece of metal and a large boulder for many of his sculptures. He designs and places the metal and boulder in a site-specific location, continuing the idea of conflicts between the natural and the manufactured. He does not look at the individual parts and believes the sculpture must be viewed in its entirety. Just as with all things, Lee thinks the viewer should look at the sculpture, its space or lack of space, and its positions and find more than just artwork. Relatum-The Case of Titan (11.2.21) is an example of a formation Lee created multiple times in different places. The position of the metal rod on the stone or the stone on the earth changes depending on the environment. The long hoe-like implement appears to be cracking the stone in this sculpture. Lee used the white coloring in the stone to determine the sculpture's placement. 

    metal pole resting on large rock
    Figure \(\PageIndex{21}\): Relatum-The Case of Titan (date unknown, stone, metal) (Pierre NguyenCC BY-NC 2.0)

    Lee felt the gardens of Versailles were overwhelming because they were constructed for man's use instead of an extension of nature. In Asia, gardens were part of a natural environment. Lee decided to make a curved sculpture to pass through so a viewer comes from one space, passes through the neutral space of the sky, and enters a different space. Lee used stone to represent nature and iron plates to symbolize the concepts of an industrialized society. He said, "My works go beyond the deep history of Versailles and the perfect image of a garden; they are a metaphor inviting visitors to experience these places differently. They reveal a new dimension opening up on infinity."[9] The immense arch (11.2.22) is 29.8 meters long and 11.8 meters high and made of steel. A large boulder anchors each side of the arch. 

    large metal curve held by stone
    Figure \(\PageIndex{22}\): The Arch of Versailles (2014, stainless steel and two stones, 111.3 x 150.0 x 20.0 cm) (dominique BernardiniCC BY 2.0)
    close up of large metal curve
    Figure \(\PageIndex{23}\): The Arch of Versailles Close up (dominique BernardiniCC BY 2.0)
    Open Dimension

    "Lee Ufan: Open Dimension" is an ambitious site-specific commission by the celebrated Korean artist Lee Ufan. The expansive installation, featuring 10 new sculptures from the artist’s signature and continuing "Relatum" series, marks Lee Ufan’s largest single outdoor sculpture project in the US, the first exhibition of his work in the nation’s capital, and the first time in the Hirshhorn’s 45-year history that its 4.3-acre outdoor plaza has been devoted, almost in its entirety, to the work of a single artist.

     

    Huang Yong Ping

    Huang Yong Ping (1954-2019) was born in Xiamen, China. Huang was among the first students to attend the newly formed art academies after the Cultural Revolution. He graduated from the Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts and became known as one of the most avant-garde artists in China in the 1980s. Influenced by Taoism and Buddhism, Huang established the Xiamen Dada, a group of artists whose work was modern and performative. In the 1980s, poverty dominated China, and pretty or nice things were unobtainable, so artists used whatever they found. Reusing materials was a practice Huang continually followed. Early in their careers, the artists made and burned their artwork. They believed "action needed to be taken, sacrifices made, and flames raised if we would like to see change made."[10] And then Tiananmen Square happened. Huang moved to France and incorporated his Eastern beliefs and characteristics with the more rigid Western standards. 

    Huang was inspired by the sculpture when he visited a Catholic church and saw an armless crucifix with the inscription "I have no arms other than yours." Huang remade the idea based on the Buddhist iconography of love, a thousand hands to help all who need rescuing in his sculpture Fifty Arms of Buddha (11.2.24). Huang used an ordinary metal stand and sculpted the arms from clay and resin. Each arm (11.2.25) holds something based on the iconography of the goddess Guan Yin (the bow (intuition), the bell (wisdom), the ritual scepter (action and compassion), the Samsara wheel (cycle of reincarnations), the arrow and the ritual sword of the young Buddha Siddharta, the lotus flower (purity) and peacock feathers (evoking the eyes of the goddess).[11] Huang also added purely domestic objects like a broom. He wanted to demonstrate the combination of the East and West with the past and present, forming a new state of continual change.

    hands on a metal ringed apparatus
    Figure \(\PageIndex{24}\): Fifty Arms of Buddha (1997, metal, terra cotta, resin, various objects, 600 x 420 cm) (carolyngiffordCC BY-NC 2.0)
    close up of hands
    Figure \(\PageIndex{25}\): Fifty Arms of Buddha Close up (corno.fulgur75CC BY 2.0)

    One of the Chinese mythological symbols is the snake, which represents wisdom and knowledge unlike Western cultures who fear the snake. The exceptionally long snake is made from aluminum and is 130 meters long with a large open mouth at one end. Most of the snake can be seen during low tide, including the tail (11.2.26). However, at high tide, only the mouth and tips of the vertebrae are visible (11.2.26). The curving snake resembles a nearby curving bridge. The snake always appears differently depending on the tides and weather. Eventually, the snake will succumb to the water, weather, and marine life.

    large metal skeleton of sea serpent in the water
    Figure \(\PageIndex{26}\): Serpent d'ocean (Serpent of the Ocean) (2012, aluminum, 130 m) (corno.fulgur75CC BY 2.0)
    head of sea serpent in water
    Figure \(\PageIndex{27}\): Serpent head (Mairie de Saint-Brevin-les-PinsCC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

     


    [1] Phoenixes Rise in China and Float in New York

    [2] Nam June Paik 

    [3] Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii

    [4] Katsura Funakoshi

    [5] Internment 

    [6] Martin, Douglas (August 17, 2013). "Ruth Asawa, an Artist Who Wove Wire, Dies at 87"The New York Times / International Herald Tribune (online) (Global ed.). The New York Times Company.

    [7] Lee Ufan

    [8] Man and nature unitedIn the studio: Lee Ufan

    [9] Lee Ufan Versailles

    [10] HUANG YONG PING - HUNGRY FOR BLOOD

    [11] CINQUANTE BRAS DE BOUDDHA


    This page titled 11.2: Sculpture (1900-1999) is shared under a All Rights Reserved (used with permission) license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Deborah Gustlin & Zoe Gustlin (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .