Fall 2022

Body Issue
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The Fall 2022 issues features the the ongoing sculptural fascination with the body. Essays focus the works of artists Nairy Baghramian, Matthew Ronay, Mark di Suvero, Thaddeus Mosley, and more. 

Director’s Letter 

Intuitively, sculpture may seem the most physical of the visual art forms. Through carving, welding, assembling, and more, the body acts upon substance. And resulting from physical activity, sculpture in turn acts upon the body, rewarding if not requiring physical engagement from its viewers, inviting us to move around to see from multiple vantages, and making us more aware of our own bodies in relation to objects and the space we occupy. This is true even of sound sculpture, which attends to the ways in which sounds impact our bodies and heighten our awareness of our position in space.

Emerging from the body, and acting upon our bodies, it’s not surprising that a principal concern of sculpture, over millennia and across cultures, has been the human form. The earliest known sculptural representation—the Löwenmensch figurine (35,000-40,000 years old) is a human-animal hybrid, and sculptors today continue to find inspiration in the human form.

That ongoing sculptural fascination with the body in turn inspires this issue of The Nasher. Taking off from the work of two of our fall exhibition artists, Nairy Baghramian and Matthew Ronay, the articles featured here consider multiple ways in which the body—its power, its frailty, its independence, its contingency—remains an essential source for artistic expression and innovation.

Importantly, neither Baghramian nor Ronay would be identified as figurative sculptors (nor would they identify themselves that way). Precedent for their very different work falls principally within the history of abstraction. Baghramian’s abstraction, however, is deeply informed by a sense of the human figure in relation to architecture and to space (reflecting, perhaps, her early interest in dance and theater)—how it feels to be supported and enclosed, to stand alone and exposed. Baghramian’s sculpture shows, too, an acute awareness of how parts of the body work, strain, and fail; the actions of joints and muscles; and the ways in which prosthetics can substitute, support, and constrain.

Ronay’s concerns, described in this issue by the artist himself, are more broadly biological than with the human body per se. Underpinning his work is an abiding fascination with systems of propagation and growth, decay and death, that exist at the cellular level and extend through the largest, most complex organisms. Often, elements of his sculptures suggest internal organs, and his works are rife with suggestions of consumption and reproduction, offering tableaux of biological interdependence.

Beyond features on Baghramian and Ronay, this issue of The Nasher includes articles heralding exhibitions of Mark di Suvero and Thaddeus Mosley coming to the Nasher Sculpture Center in winter/spring 2023, and a piece titled “Go Figure” by Chief Curator Jed Morse highlighting additions to the Nasher’s collection by artist Matthew Monahan. Also included are articles by a remarkable array of artists, poets, art historians, curators, and critics who address a variety of topics that consider the body in sculpture from multiple perspectives, others that examine artists and themes less tied to the body, but still of particular relevance to sculpture today and, by consequence, to the Nasher Sculpture Center.

In reading this issue of The Nasher, your body might be still, with only your eyes shifting as they cross back and forth across the page. Yet we hope the multiple voices and perspectives contained herein allow your mind and your imagination to roam, in ways analogous to the movement of your body as you circle around, examining a sculpture from multiple perspectives, whether in our galleries or anywhere else you might encounter one.

Jeremy Strick


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