NEW WINDSOR, N.Y. – The last chance to see "Lynda Benglis: Water Sources" and "Outlooks: Luke Stettner" at Storm King Art Center is quickly coming to an end. Benglis's installation remains on view until Sunday, November 8, 2015 with Stettner's installation and exhibition continuing until November 29, 2015 when Storm King Art Center closes for the season. Both shows were special exhibitions for the 2015 season and joined the New York sculpture park's extensive installations of work sited throughout their 500-acre grounds.
"Lynda Benglis: Water Sources"
"Lynda Benglis: Water Sources" includes more than a dozen outdoor sculptures, some recently created and on view for the first time, as well as a selection of sculptural works installed throughout six galleries in the Museum Building. Benglis has been represented in Storm King’s permanent collection since 1974 with the acquisition of Nu, a knotted work made that year that is part of a series of characters from the Greek alphabet, and which is part of this exhibition. Lynda Benglis: Water Sources is the first exhibition to bring together a major body of outdoor work created by Benglis.
The exhibition is co-curated by Storm King’s Director and Chief Curator, David R. Collens, and Curator Nora Lawrence. Collens explains, “Lynda Benglis’s work has been an important part of Storm King’s permanent collection for many years and we are delighted to give visitors the opportunity to experience such an ambitious selection of her sculptures. The exhibition is inspired by the artist’s keen interpretation of landscape, and so Storm King is the perfect place for presenting "Water Sources.”
Benglis says of working at Storm King Art Center, “I want to be there forever. It’s really a pleasure to be at Storm King—with the billowing grasses—I want to spend more time there. This is the first, and the first major, showing of the fountains as a group, and a nice setting for them.”
Many of the outdoor works are fountains—some created in bronze, and others in bright pink cast pigmented polyurethane—several of which have never before been exhibited publicly. Indoors, the exhibition includes works in bronze and stone made in the early 1990s, soon after Benglis established a residence in the Southwest. These take the idea of landscape—in particular the rock formations of New Mexico—as their conceptual foundation, while the related exterior fountains meditate on the flow of water and the human body, as well as the idea of plenty and abundance. Also indoors are large-scale works in cast pigmented polyurethane including Swinburne Figure I (in pink) and Black Ice (in black), as well as a selection of ceramic sculptures.
The main part of the exhibition is on Museum Hill, just south of Storm King’s Museum Building.
Four pools of water ranging in size from 14 to 24 feet in diameter hold three to four sculptural elements apiece, each flowing with water. To the east, three thin, tall fountains of bronze from 2015 entitled Bounty, Fruited Plane, and Amber Waves stand together, with water flowing down their concentric, open blossoms. Two fountains in three parts, Pink Ladies (2014) and Pink Lady (For Asha) (2013), share a vivid pink hue, inspired by a kite Benglis saw at a festival in India. Crescendo (1983–84/2014–15) is a large-scale, collaged bronze fountain with a 17-foot cantilever that Benglis recently completed, based on a mold of her first-ever fountain sculpture, The Wave of the World. Crescendo stands in the same pool as the two-part work Double Fountain, Mother and Child, For Anand (2007). To the west of this main area, in a smaller clearing that housed a decorative fountain many years ago, the four-part fountain North South East West(1988/2009/2012–15) is arranged along these cardinal points.
Otherworldly landscapes, views of peaks and valleys, moss found growing on the underside of a fountain, and visions of clouds resulting from atomic explosions served as inspiration for the three small-scale fountains that are shown on the Museum Building’s patio.
The works on view date from 1974 to today, and range in scale from two and a half feet to 25 feet tall. A newly completed work is on view for the first time in Storm King’s South Fields, titled Hills and Clouds (2015). The work glows in the dark and was featured on Storm King’s Moonlit Walks this season. Two other bronze works, Migrating Pedmarks and Cloak-Wave Pedmarks (1998), were important to Benglis’s thinking about fountains and greet arriving visitors near Storm King’s main entrance. Formed from clay skins, these were cut from large blocks of clay pressed onto underlying plaster and subsequently cast in bronze. The resulting cloaked figures retain the imprints of Benglis’s fingers and call to mind the accounting of a prehistoric event.
"Outlooks: Luke Stettner"
"Outlooks: Luke Stettner" is made up on an outdoor installation and an indoor exhibition of new work located at the Museum Building. The show is part of Storm King’s annual Outlooks series, which invites an emerging or mid-career artist to create a new, site-specific work. The outdoor installation is made with biochar, a kind of charcoal that is used to enhance soil. The works inside the Museum Building include photographs shot by Stettner, and found photographs, as well as a sculpture that the artist created on site.
Storm King Curator Nora Lawrence explains, “Stettner’s work engages with the passage of time, with natural forces, and with the intersections between visual art, poetry, and memory. We are thrilled to present a project with Stettner at Storm King. We feel that the subtleties of his presentation and process will draw audiences to new areas of concentration within our site.”
Stettner’s piece—across its indoor and outdoor components—is entitled a,b,moon,d, a phrase that originated from a toddler’s confusion of the letter “C” with a crescent moon. Stettner created the outdoor component of a,b,moon,d after viewing photographs of archaeological digs and aerial diagrams of ancient architectural complexes, and observing how their geometric forms recall pictographic languages or a long-forgotten ancient code.
Stettner was inspired by the 500-acre Storm King landscape, especially the many fallen trees he came across while walking Storm King’s grounds.
For the exhibition, he filled large, sculptural trenches with biochar, a sustainable and soil-enhancing type of charcoal made from wood in a carbon-negative process called pyrolysis, which he made in collaboration with a small farm in Vermont. The pieces of biochar preserve the integrity and original look of the trees used, resembling burnt pieces of wood. Stettner arranged the biochar into a series of geometric patterns over an 80-square-foot expanse on Storm King’s South Fields. The trenches range in length from one to 48 feet, and are visible from Storm King’s Museum Hill. The dark expanses of biochar are in dramatic contrast to the grasses of the open fields and rolling hills surrounding them. Charcoal is one of the earliest, most rudimentary drawing materials, so, in this way, the installation in the South Fields can be viewed as a drawing as well as a sculpture.
Stettner states, “I consider the exhibition to be a collaboration between the staff that maintain Storm King, the Museum Building, and its surrounding topography; myself; and the cyclical changes that occur in nature.”
Inside the Museum Building are a series of works relating directly to the outdoor installation. These include a sculpture built on site, made of concrete and discarded mobile phones, and photographs. Some of the photographs were shot by Stettner; others he collected from books and scanned, removing the half-tones in the scanning process. Stettner then printed all of his digital imagery—both scans of books and original photographs—with an inkjet printer, re-photographed these simple digital prints with 35-millimeter film, and then printed them in a darkroom onto silver gelatin paper.
This re-imaging process created material equivalency between all the images. Many of the silver gelatin photographs display the traces of a human presence on natural surfaces—rocks and dirt, for example. The subjects of the photographs are anonymous, removed from their origin, unidentifiable—contributing to the overall feeling within Stettner’s project of tapping into something from an irretrievable past.
"Outlooks: Luke Stettner" is the third in Storm King's exhibition series, which invites one emerging or mid-career artist to create a new, site-specific work to be installed at Storm King for a single season. Artist Virginia Overton was the second artist to be featured in the annual Outlooks series. In 2014, she presented a 500-foot-long thin brass sculpture in an expansive, central, rolling field. In 2013, artist David Brooks inaugurated the series with his work, A Proverbial Machine in the Garden, which comprised a 1970s–model Dynahoe tractor, buried beneath Storm King’s iconic landscape.
Lawrence adds, “With the Outlooks series, we aim to demonstrate innovative ways in which contemporary artists are engaging with natural spaces, and thus create a bridge between twentieth- and twenty-first century art production at Storm King.”
Sculpture at Storm King
Storm King Art Center is set on 500-acres of fields and woodlands in the lower Hudson Valley. The outdoor sculpture park presents over 100 sculptures sited to speak to the landscape and to the art around it. The collection includes works by renown sculptors, many who are also Hamptons artists.
Included in the collection (or on long-term loan) are sculpture by Alice Aycock, Dennis Oppenheim, Roy Lichenstein, Joel Perlman, Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Grace Knowlton, Magdalena Abakonowicz, David Smith, Louise Nevelson, Louise Bourgeois, Nam June Paik, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen and many others.
To see some of the sculpture on view on the grounds, "Visual Diary: Outdoor Sculpture at Storm King Art Center"
BASIC FACTS: "Lynda Benglis: Water Sources" remains on view through November 8, 2015. "Outlooks: Luke Stettner" remains on view through November 29, 2015, the last day of Storm King’s 2015 season.
Storm King Art Center is located at 1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY 12553. www.stormking.org.
Copyright 2015 Hamptons Art Hub LLC. All rights reserved.