One of the most prominent and influential sculptors of the era, Joel Shapiro has long explored geometric form through structural compositions of rectangular elements that visually and physically challenge the possibilities of balance and weight. On view in his Nasher exhibition will be a series of recent, brightly painted, suspended forms that hover in space at different heights and angles, along with a series of recent drawings as well as key works by Shapiro from the Nasher’s permanent collection. [...]
The current exhibition presents a new direction in Shapiro’s work: a single, site-specific installation conceived specifically for the space of the Renzo Piano-designed galleries of the Nasher. Although made of brightly painted wood—materials Shapiro has employed since the early 1980s—the irregular cubic volumes not only occupy the floor, they also hover in the air, tethered at different heights and angles within the gallery.
This installation of suspended volumes represents a new development in the artist’s exploration of expanded or disconnected constructions that began around 2002. Like much of his work, these initially took the form of small sculptures of lightweight wood, sometimes with the wooden elements tenuously joined by loose, curling wire, occasionally suspended from the ceiling. These sculptural clusters, having been freed from the need of earthbound mounts or supports, offered complex arrangements of forms in space that often looked as if they were collapsing or disintegrating, giving abstract voice to the unsettling tensions of the post-9/11 era. Eventually, these independent sculptures developed into room-sized installations of painted wooden planks of different widths, lengths and colors, suspended by strings at various angles and orientations in space, creating a complex spatial composition that changed as the viewer moved around and through it. [...]
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website. See museum website for more information.