Lot 12
  • 12

Mark di Suvero

bidding is closed


  • Mark di Suvero
  • The Cave
  • steel
  • 400.1 by 436.9 by 335.3cm.
  • 157 1/2 by 172 by 132in.


New York, Paula Cooper Gallery, Mark di Suvero, 2016

Catalogue Note

Mark di Suvero came to public prominence in 1975 when one of his works was installed in the Jardin des Tuileries, Paris - a first for any living artist - in the same year that a major retrospective of his works was held at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Like a number of his contemporaries, di Suvero assembled his early sculptures from the detritus he found while walking around the city. Working with wooden beams, planks, rope, chains, and metal, he built dynamic sculptures that matched the paintings of the Abstract Expressionists in exuberance and size. As Donald Judd stated: ‘Di Suvero uses beams as if they were brush strokes, imitating movement, as [Franz] Kline did. The material never has its own movement. A beam thrusts; a piece of iron follows a gesture; together they form a naturalistic and anthropomorphic image’ (D. Judd, ‘Specific Objects’, in Arts Yearbook 8, 1965).

Di Suvero’s sculpture is both aggressive and ambitious, and shares with David Smith an ongoing affinity with work usually associated with garages, machine shops and boatyards. Similarly, di Suvero overcomes the inherent problems of working on a large scale and with industrial materials with ease; indeed this affinity with the materials has led di Suvero to speak of himself on numerous occasions as a worker - a welder or a crane operator - as much as an artist. 

The Cave is constructed from geometric steel beams and panels from which a pair of organic shapes dangle – suggesting a manmade structure designed to offer up a natural form for our consideration. The shapes are suspended in tension by wire without coming in to direct contact with the solid base, enabling a kinaesthetic response and mobility that counters the otherwise static qualities of the sculpture. This living element of the work is further augmented by the addition of an acoustic component; the work comes with a baton that allows you to strike the hanging element, transforming it into a gong. As the art historian Barbara Rose wrote: ‘As heir to both the structural rigour of Cubo-Constructivism as well as to the gestural expansiveness of Abstract Expressionism, di Suvero was able to synthesize the divergent tributaries of mainstream modernism – including the engineered movement of kinetic art and the spontaneity of automatic Surrealist 'drawing in air'. His genius lies in his unique ability to fuse the excitement of the momentary – expressed in the potential for imminent change of the swinging, twirling and precariously poised elements – with the gravity of a timeless geometry and the engineered stability and intuitive equilibrium that his hard-won mastery of structural balances makes possible’ (B. Rose, ‘Modernism and Memory’ in Mark di Suvero (exhibition catalogue) Centre Julio González, Valencia, 1995).