Giants of American Sculpture at Chatsworth

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The 12th edition of Beyond Limits turns the spotlight on some of the greatest American sculptors of the 20th Century. Important works by Julian Schnabel, Robert Indiana and Tony Smith are displayed in the spectacular grounds of Chatsworth House, marrying the industrial aesthetic of American Modern sculpture with the quintessential English country landscape. Click through to see highlights from the exhibition.

Beyond Limits
Chatsworth House | 15 September — 12 November 2017

Giants of American Sculpture at Chatsworth

  • Tony Smith, Source, 1967.
    Tony Smith is regarded as a pioneer of post-war abstract art and his large-scale geometric forms are some of the most recognisable achievements in recent American sculptural history. His training as an architect is evident in his working process: he was preoccupied with mass, balance and volume and would achieve his forms through spatial and modular experimentation on smaller maquettes which he would then enlarge to create his iconic imposing sculptures.

  • Isamu Noguchi, Soliloquy, 1962.
    Isamu Noguchi was born in California to an American mother and Japanese father. Soliloquy belongs to a series of works he produced in the 1960s, named variously with peculiarly human emotions or experiences, and all of which speak of some form of melancholy: other works include Solitude, Mortality, The Cry and Victim. Sympathetic to Japanese artistic practices, Noguchi typically liked working in organic materials such as stone and wood. However, this series he chose to cast in bronze, lending a symbolic weight and permanence to these particular human experiences.

  • Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen, Leaning Fork with Meatball and Spaghetti II, 1994.
    Claes Oldenburg was a central figure in the Pop art movement in America: a genre which completely altered the direction of contemporary art which was at the time dominated by Abstract Expressionism. Engaging with specifically mundane subject matter, Pop artists playfully sought to elevate the commonplace to the lofty sphere of 'high art'. Together with his wife Coosje Van Bruggen, Oldenburg produced theatrically enlarged models of unexceptional objects, such as shuttlecocks, ice cream, matches, pieces of cake and apple cores.

  • Julian Schnabel, Golem, 1986.
    Since the late 1970s, Julian Schnabel has been a notable figure on the cultural and artistic scene in both Europe and America. His limitless creativity and restive imagination have led him to produce an overwhelming variety of paintings, ceramics and sculptures — and even to the writing and directing of films, including Basquiat starring David Bowie — all of which achieved prodigious success. 

  • Julian Schnabel, Joe, 1983.
    The five Schnabel sculptures exhibited at Chatsworth enjoy a primitive aesthetic that evokes cultures of old, something which has long fascinated the artist.

  • Sam Francis, Untitled, 2003.
    Though more widely recognised as a painter and printmaker, the sculpture of Sam Francis forms an important body of his work and is an area in which the influences of his extensive travel are particularly noticeable. Throughout his creative development, Francis assimilated different styles and techniques into his work; for part of the 1970s he lived in Tokyo and the aesthetic influence of Asian culture and in particular Zen Buddhism is evident in the present work.

  • Beverley Pepper, Curvae in Curvae, 2017.
    Beverley Pepper creates monumental works which are designed to rise as though out of the ground and sit both in synthesis and contrast to their immediate surroundings. She specifically chooses to work in corten steel and cement to complement the concept of her earthbound sculptures. Known for her hands-on and at times brutal approach to her materials, one critic once commented: "traditional carving was closed to Pepper who instead attacked the wood with electric drills and saws".

  • Sol LeWitt, Three-Sided Pyramid, 1991.
    The pyramid was a shape that long held fascination for Sol LeWitt: pure in its mathematics and with its roots found in Ancient and Egyptian iconography, LeWitt delighted in the pyramid as a form of infinite possibilities. Transforming it here into a shape of distinctly contemporary aesthetic, LeWitt celebrates the potential for triumph of form over content. This was a recurring theme of his work, in which he sought to depart from the more individualistic traditions of Abstract Expressionism.  

  • Louise Nevelson, Tropical Night Disc, 1975.
    Louise Nevelson was central to bringing the concept of installation art to American popular culture. She often incorporated into her works items of detritus she found in the streets around her studio, consolidating them into compact, box-like structures which she would then paint in one unifying colour.



    Throughout her career she faced resistance from critics and pundits alike, who refused to see her work as comparable to that of her male counterparts. Today she is celebrated not only for her role in re-defining the possibilities for women in the arts but also for her work, in and of itself.

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