My first trip to the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in early October was truly refreshing. About 6 years ago I moved to New England and during this time I have tried to visit all of the New England museums in an effort to get to know my new cultural backyard. A visit to the deCordova museum evaded me until now although the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park is the largest of its kind in New England with over 35 acres of sculptures and grounds and as it turns out was only about one hour away for where I live. I went early on what could not have been a more perfect bright sunny fall day. Arriving early is a good idea because there is so much to see. In the collection you will find a refreshing combination internationally recognized and local artists ranging from Sol Le Witt, Roy Lichtenstein, Jim Dine and Michele Oka Donner to Jonathan Bonner, Tom Chapin and Carol Spack to name just a few.
The collection ranges from classical contemporary to works with environmental empathy. A strong conceptual work into the collection is Nam June Paik’s “Requiem for the 21st Century,” 1997. Nam June Paik is an artist who made a significant impact on art from the 1960s until his death in 2006. He is considered the father of video art, the most significant figure of the art & technology movement and a recognized figure of the 1960-70’s fluxus or do-it-yourself movement. In his signatory work “Requiem for the 21st Century” Paik succinctly merges disparate elements into a powerful statement. The silver colored shell of a 1936 Chrysler Airstream sedan has multiple television monitors set in the windows running a continuous video loop presenting themes of consumerism, mobility, advertising, and obsolete products. The audio component of the work is Mozart’s final and unfinished work, Requiem Mass in D minor, K.626, provides a mournful ode. This is a prototype for a larger piece titled “32 cars for the 20th Century Play Mozart’s Requiem Quietly,” which consists of 32 cars filled with junk radios and TVs. This powerful work points to the death of the industrial society while anticipating our electronic society.
Another pleasingly unexpected piece that I saw was “Putto 4 Over 4” by Michael Rees. Rees refers to himself as a multimedia sculptor. Although his work is founded in the body he is not a typical sculptor, his touch stone is his performance work. In a 2007 performance piece titled “Live Life” created for the Matthew Barney studio hints of “Putto 4 Over 4” can be seen. In “Live Life” the artist transforms into an eerie image with four oversized white feet (mounted on his hands and feet). With “Putto 4 Over 4” Rees expands on “Live Life” while simultaneously shifting from the analog world of performance to 3D digital animation and from time based to frozen in time. In his complex process for “Putto 4 Over 4” Rees first created the eerie Frankensteinian 3D form consisting of 2 sets of two large fingers connected to two baby legs he then animated a “performance” with them, captured a still image and then output the form into a CNC milled sculpture. Oddly enough the final result is simultaneously intriguing, humorous and quirky. Rees’ works have been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the MARTa Herford and other museums throughout the United States,Germany,Turkey and Spain.
Here is the video of the Putto 4 Over 4, Maya Version by Michael Rees
If you like sculpture as much as I do, go to the deCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA there you will see some exciting and fascinating work.