Release Date: May 30, 2014
Modern Sculpture Highlighted in East Building Installation; New Guided Tour Added
Washington, DC—A special installation of modern sculpture from the National Gallery of Art’s renowned holdings is on view in the East Building Atrium and the Concourse level while the building’s galleries are closed for renovation. More than 12,000 square feet of new exhibition space will be added within the current footprint of the East Building, including an outdoor sculpture terrace overlooking Pennsylvania Avenue and two flanking sky-lit interior tower galleries. This work will occur in coordination with the federally funded Master Facilities Plan, a renovation program that began in the West Building in 1999 and continues in the East Building. Designed by I.M. Pei and opened to the public in 1978, the East Building is expected to reopen fully by fall 2016.
Beginning on Sunday, June 1, the Gallery will offer a new guided tour entitled “Modern Sculpture: Dialogues in Three Dimensions” to highlight the works of art currently on view in the East Building. The 60-minute tour will be offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and begins at the East Building Information Desk. Connections will be explored among the various works of sculpture, but the tour will also offer audiences an opportunity to engage with each other in open-ended discussion about the works on view, incorporating their own experience in the act of interpreting art. Participants will examine the relationship between Pei’s East Building and John Russell Pope’s neoclassical West Building, as well as between the East Building’s architecture and the works of art on view.
Twenty-five modern sculptures are currently on view throughout the East Building, including three works commissioned for the building's dedication and opening in 1978: Alexander Calder's monumental mobile Untitled (1976); Anthony Caro's National Gallery Ledge Piece (1978); and Henry Moore's Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece (1976–1978). Calder's colorful mobile, the artist's last major commission before his death, moves gracefully above visitors to the East Building's sky-lit atrium, driven by interior air currents. Caro's welded composition—incorporating both linear and curved forms—extends across and over the atrium's ledge, activating the geometric space defined by the East Building's architecture. Moore's iconic bronze sculpture, one of the artist's best-known works in North America, greets visitors outside the main entrance to the East Building on 4th Street. Andy Goldsworthy's Roof (2004–2005)—comprising nine hollow conjoined domes made from regional Buckingham Virginia slate—was commissioned in 2003 in honor of the East Building's 25th anniversary.
Other works on view include Scott Burton's Rock Settees (1988), which straddle the boundary between the fine and the decorative arts. Viewers are encouraged to interact physically with these two sculptures, which have a functional purpose as furniture. Richard Long's Whitechapel Slate Circle (1981), which has not been on display since 1998, is inspired by the natural landscape. The work incorporates cut stones arranged in the shape of a circle, a universal form with resonance for many cultures. A recent gift to the Gallery, Ursula von Rydingsvard's Five Cones (1990–1992)—made from layers of stacked-and-cut cedar beams—evokes the natural environment within its setting in East Building's light-filled atrium.
Among the works on view at the Concourse level are Leo Villareal's light sculpture Multiverse (2008), which includes approximately 41,000 LED nodes controlled by custom-designed software; Richard Serra's Five Plates, Two Poles (1971), the largest and most complex of his “plate and pole” sculptures made from 1970–1971; and Hans Haacke's breakthrough kinetic work, Condensation Wall (1963–1966/2013).
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Works mentioned in this article:
Alexander Calder, Untitled (1976)
Anthony Caro, National Gallery Ledge Piece (1978)
Henry Moore's Knife Edge Mirror Two Piece (1976–1978
Andy Goldsworthy, Roof (2004–2005)
Scott Burton, Rock Settees (1988)
Richard Long, Whitechapel Slate Circle (1981)
Ursula von Rydingsvard, Five Cones (1990–1992
Leo Villareal, Multiverse (2008)
Richard Serra, Five Plates, Two Poles (1971)