Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Visit to the Sculpture Garden

Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I decided to take advantage of a brief respite from the rain and walk to the sculpture garden at the National Gallery of Art. As you can see in the photos, the sky was blue one minute, cloudy the next, but it felt just fine.

Roy Lichtenstein, House I. It might be difficult to tell in the photo, but Lichtenstein employs a cool visual illusion here; the side of the house projects toward the viewer while seeming to recede into space at the same time. (When I was a teenager and first studying modern art, I once hopped on a bus and rode 2 hours to a town I'd never heard of because there was a Lichtenstein show at a small gallery there. It was awesome, and I'd still travel to see his work today.)

Barry Flanagan, Thinker on a Rock. When I look at this, I think of Donnie Darko. I wonder if Richard Kelly was a fan of Flanagan's work.

Alexander Calder, Cheval Rouge (Red Horse). I've written on this blog before about my love for Calder's circus and portraits, but of course, I also admire his mobiles and larger sculptures.

Sol LeWitt, Four-Sided Pyramid. This sculpture references architectural forms from New York skyscrapers to ancient Mesopotamian ziggurats. But it makes me think of stacking sugar cubes as a kid. And it also makes me hungry.

Louise Bourgeois, Spider. Very Spooky.

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Typewriter Eraser, Scale X. I have such a soft spot for Claes Oldenburg; I have yet to encounter a work of art that didn't make me smile. What's not to love?

Magdalena Abakanowicz, Puellae (Girls). A lot of her work has to do with her experiences as a child in Poland during WWII. This piece refers to a story the artist heard as a child about a group of children who froze to death in cattle cars as they were being transported to Germany for "Arianization." Quite haunting.

Roxy Paine, Graft. There are two different halves to this tree. One side is delicate and elegant; the other side is gnarled and twisted. Paine is referring to the ever-present tension between order and chaos, among other things. In my dream house, I would have a garden with one of these Dendroids, as they're called, standing among shaped hedges. I do wonder, though, if it's ever been struck by lightning.

Lucas Samaras, Chair Transformation Number 20B. This is another sculpture that fools the eye. It appears to be either leaning forward, standing straight, or leaning backward, depending on your viewpoint.

These ladies were taking a break and dipping their feet in the fountain.

I haven't shown all the sculptures by any means; these are just a few of my favorites. Hope you enjoyed taking a peak at the garden!


  1. I think the tree is my favorite. And the fountain looks very pretty :)

  2. That house is really cool! And I could tell just by looking at the girls statues that there was something haunting about it. Great pictures and thanks for sharing!

  3. Love this post! How artistic many of those are. Great idea for a post.

  4. I love Magdalena Abakanowicz. Her work really is haunting.

  5. Great post! I love that sculpture garden. My husband and I sent hours there on our first trip to DC. There was this sphere sculpture that he was just amazed by.

  6. What a great sculpture display!

    Thanks for posting this, perhaps one day I can visit there : )

  7. don't you just love it there? i was an art history major at the university of maryland in college park, so i spent a lot of time at the national gallery! great pics :)


  8. This is SO cool! Thanks for sharing all those pics. I def need to find a way to visit that place one of these days. I'm a huge Lichtenstein fan.


  9. So neat. I love the spooky spider and the tree. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I enjoyed looking at the sculptures in this post! The Typewriter Eraser one had me going, "wth?" at first-- size x sure is uncannily huge. I like how quirky so many of the sculptures are, and the spookyspider reminds me of the one in Roppongi Hills. Am not sure if it's by the same artist though.

    Thank you for sharing your trip to the museum! :)