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Block Explores Work by Modernist Sculptors

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June 13, 2006 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Hans (Jean) Arp, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore are among the abstract sculptors who pursued aesthetic beauty through the perfection of form. As demonstrated in a new exhibition that will open at Northwestern University's Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, Evanston campus, these artists searched for this ideal in sculpture as well as in prints and drawings.

The nearly 40 objects in the upcoming exhibition, “Process of Abstraction: Two and Three-Dimensional Work by Modernist Sculptors” (July 7 to Aug. 27), in the Block Museum's Alsdorf Gallery and Outdoor Sculpture Garden, will show these artists experimenting with colors, shapes and materials on flat surfaces and in space. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

Drawing from the Block's permanent collections and with loans from other institutions and collections, “Process of Abstraction” will juxtapose small- and large-scale sculptures with works on paper of varying sizes, revealing each artists' unique visual language across different media and their abstract exploration of human or natural subjects.  

On display, for example, will be three works by abstract art pioneer Hans (Jean) Arp -- the monumental 1959 sculpture “Resting Leaf,” a bronze cast of the small-scale 1964 “Sculpture of Silence, Corneille,” and the 1966 woodcut “Encircled Sun” -- which depict similarly irregular and swollen shapes drawn from organic forms and themes. Four works in the exhibition by Henry Moore show the British artist working in lithography, drawing and sculpture with variations on what he referred to as “internal” and “external” forms based on the human figure. Moore's contemporary Barbara Hepworth will be represented by four small- and large-scale sculptures and one lithograph which expose her affinity for ovals and spheres and interest in forms derived from nature.

The exhibition also will feature works by Alexander Calder, Lynn Chadwick, Alberto Giacometti, Jacques Lipchitz, Joán Miró, Elie Nadelman and Arnaldo Pomodoro.

“These artists are known primarily as sculptors, yet the works on display here speak to their mastery as printmakers and draftsmen,” said Block Museum Senior Curator Debora Wood. “This exhibition recognizes their contributions to modern art beyond sculpture.”

In addition to highlighting the artists' mastery of different media, the inclusion of sculpture in the exhibition will bring the viewer closer to the artistic process. “One interacts with a sculpture differently than a print or drawing,” added Wood. “You examine all planes of the sculpture in order to experience it in three dimensions, in a sense occupying the same physical space as the artist.”

The Block has scheduled a variety of programs to complement the summer 2006 exhibition.

• Free guided tours of the “Process of Abstraction” exhibition will be held at 2 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday from July 8 through Aug. 27.  Reservations are not required.

• Conservators Inez Litas of Evanston-based Liparini Restoration Studio and Holly Lundberg of the Chicago History Museum will conduct a free tour of the Block's Outdoor Sculpture Garden from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday, July 20. During the tour they will discuss the conservation needs of outdoor art works. Reservations are suggested. 

• Participants will create their own two- and three-dimensional works of art during a Block Museum Adult Studio Workshop from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3. The cost of the workshop is $15 for Block Museum members; $20 for nonmembers.

• During the Block's Family Program “Garden Art,” from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 13, children aged 7 to 14 and their parents, grandparents and/or guardians will make personalized mosaic garden stepping-stones. The program is free for Block members; $5 per family for nonmembers.

Call (847) 491-4852 to make reservations for these programs. For more information on the Block's summer programming, visit <www.blockmuseum.northwestern.edu> or call (847) 491-4000.

Topics: Campus Life