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By virtue of its dimensionality, sculpture always references the human body, always presses into the spaces we viewers occupy. Hand wrought or machine made, to sacred or secular ends, it also engages with persistent concerns— volume and weight, modeling and material, surface, size, scale, color, and meaning— from the earliest examples to the present. This exhibition highlights a diverse array of practices that comprises sculpture, by artists working in the 20th and 21st centuries.
The works on view here range from 1900 to 2006, from Rodin to Shonibare, and include Arp, Bertoia, Hepworth, Soto, Nevelson, Oldenburg, Kienholz, Butterfield, and Stella among others. The selection surveys the influence of realist figural traditions, Modernist experiments in abstraction, Pop provocations and minimalist explorations, conceptual contemporary practices, and the expanded variety of an increasingly globalized art world.
An important key to this installation is the Antioch mosaic, a permanent feature of the Tanner Gallery; for these purposes, it suggests the ongoing influence of historical precedent on the artwork of the recent past and today, tracing the past to the present. As well, this selection (featuring many objects never before on view) introduces the great range of sculpture represented in the Davis collections — guaranteed to surprise. I encourage you to seek out the sculptures installed throughout the galleries on Floors 4 and 2, and to enjoy the many serendipitous connections revealed along the way.
Ruth Gordon Shapiro ’37 Director