The DART Board: Who Made Love?

By Peggy Roalf   Wednesday July 17, 2019

Editor's note: This week’s DART Board feature is by sculptor Marco Palli, who also writes on the subject.

Who Made LOVE? by Marco Palli

There are many versions of “LOVE” around the world, but this particular kind of “LOVE” has been in the making since 1966. The first LOVE sculpture was fabricated out of Cor-Ten steel in 1970 and is currently located at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The LOVE sculpture that most of us in New York know is a polychrome aluminum piece that, unless it is undergoing a conservation facelift, is usually found on Avenue of the Americas (South East corner of W 55th St &, 6th Ave, New York, NY 10019). This particular LOVE is believed to be cursed, because visitors who want their picture taken standing by it must hope for bad weather; on any other day there is a long line of people waiting for their turn. Above: Page 86 and 87 from “Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s”, sitting on my desk—MP

So who made LOVE? Most people have answered this question by saying that LOVE is the work of Robert Indiana—and  it is, but Mr. Indiana did not make this piece alone. The LOVE sculpture, and many of its other incarnations, were fabricated by Lippincott, Inc. (Today: Lippincott, LLC). Like Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, George Sugarman, Robert Murray and many other remarkable artists have worked with the pioneering founders of the Lippincott Shop, Roxanne Everett and Donald Lippincott, to materialize their large-scale works.

Unequivocally, the art world, as an entity, results from the amalgamation of artists and other individuals who may not consider themselves artists, but who make outstanding contributions to this evolving orb. Such is the case with the entrepreneurs, engineers, and welders from the Lippincott CrewAdditionally, Jonathan D. Lippincott, son of Donald Lippincott, has continued to provide a special contribution of his own. Having been immersed, since childhood, in the fascinating world of fabricating sculpture, and by gaining direct access to those artists who inhabited the sphere of his father’s enterprise, Jonathan trained as an historian, despite the fact of owning the skills and passion of a chef. In his own work he has examined practically every aspect of contemporary sculpture in his role as art critic, lecturer, curator, publisher and, of course, author.

Mr. Lippincott is the author of two books: “Large Scale: Fabricating Sculpture in the 1960s and 1970s” (Princeton Architectural Press, 2010), which is essentially an historic document that sheds light upon how thirty post-war artists were able to experiment—and explore their ambitions about fabrications.

This was a period in which the National Endowment for the Arts launched an initiative to support public art, thereby forging a significant era of modern art—the one in which Robert Indiana made “LOVE”. And now Mr. Lippincott has published “Robert Murray: Sculpture” (Design Books, 2019), a new monograph that feels like a sequel. 

Robert Murray: Sculpture” is an ambitious book that embraces six decades of the artist’s work, with photographs of nearly two hundred pieces as seen in galleries, museums, in private collections, in public settings, in his studios, and in the workshops of his fabricators. A thorough introduction/biography of Murray is followed by an expansive interview with the artist. Lippincott covers the sculptor’s process of working with fabricators and foundries, intriguing issues concerning the commissioning and placing of public art, and the siting of sculpture in general. Murray’s early years, including his close friendships with Barnett Newman and other artists, together with Murray’s background stories that influenced the making of his work, such as his life-long interest in flying—and more—insightfully illuminate the story of his artwork, the life of this singular artist, and the testimony of an era.

Jonathan D. Lippincott will be presenting a slide lecture on the life and work of Robert Murray at the New York Public Library Mulberry Street Branch on Saturday July 20th, at 2:30pm. The library is located at 10 Jersey Street, in Soho, NYC. A Q&A and book signing will follow (a few copies of this book will be available for sale; to reserve a copy, please go here. More details here.

Related events:

Workshop: Saturday, July 27, 1:15 to 3:45 pm
Sculptors Alliance 2D-to-3D Workshop(for Adults) is a class that uses Jonathan Lippincott’s book: “Robert Murray Sculpture” as reference for further sculpture development, where attendants will have the opportunity to explore their own sculptural ideas guided by sculptor Francine Perlman at the New York Public Library Mulberry Street Branch. More details here.

Exhibition Opening: July 31st, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm
The exhibition Robert Murray: Landscape and Abstraction will be opening at the SVA Flatiron Project Space on July 31st, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. The gallery is located in Chelsea at 133/141 West 21st Street, NYC, 10011. More details here.

Jonathan D. Lippincott is the associate director at the Library of American Landscape History, a leading publisher of books that advance the study and practice of American landscape architecture. He is also the owner of Lippincott Book Design, where he acts as art director and designer on illustrated books about architecture, landscape, and fine art. Info

Editor’s note: This special edition of The DART Board presents a Summer Guide to Outdoor Sculpture in New York City.

Robert Indiana: The American LOVE; AMOR; AHAVA: An exhibition of three monumental sculptures by Robert Indiana (1928-2018) exhibited on the Kasmin's rooftop sculpture garden, which can be viewed from The High Line with access at 28th Street. This is the first significant exhibition of Indiana’s sculpture since the 2018 show,  Robert Indiana: A Sculpture Retrospective at Albright-Knox, Buffalo, NY. An additional work will accompany the rooftop exhibition in High Line Nine, Gallery 3. Kasmin, 509 West 27th Street, NY, NY Info

Leonardo Drew | City in the Grass. For the 38th Madison Square Park Conservancy’s commissioned exhibition, New York-based artist Leonard Drew has created a monumental new public art project that presents a topographical view of an abstract cityscape atop a patterned panorama. This sprawling work of varied materials extends over 100-feet long across the lawn, with towers that grow in and around a patterned surface made of colored sand that mimics Persian carpet designs and reflects the artist’s interest in East Asian decorative traditions. Bringing together domestic and urban motifs, City in the Grass will invites park visitors to walk on its surface and to explore the abstract terrain of the work from all angles. Info

Above: Carmen Herrera, Angulo Rojo, 2017; photo © Nicholas Knight; courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY

Carmen Herrera | Estructuras Monumentales: Herrera began conceptualizing her Estructuras in 1962 through diagrammatic drawings, believing that her geometric acrylic paintings were “crying out to become sculpture”. The works existed only as draughts, however, until 2015. The acrylic and aluminium forms' presentation in City Hall Park draws the crisp minimalism of Herrera's works on paper and canvas out into three dimensions for the first time to the public. Info

En Plein Air | Featuring works by Ei Arakawa, Firelei Báez, Daniel Buren, Sam Falls, Lubaina Himid, Lara Schnitger, Ryan Sullivan, and Vivian Suter, at various locations along the High Line. Through the participation of an international group of artists, En Plein Air challenges the kinds of work traditionally associated with public art—sculptures and murals—by presenting freestanding, outdoor paintings that can be viewed in the round and in dialogue with the surrounding landscapes. The High Line, above Eleventh Avenue between Gansevoort and West 34th Street. Info

Simone Leigh | Brick House. This towering bronze bust is the first sculpture to be displayed on a plinth at the spur, a new section of the High Line. At 16 feet tall, the figure is a black woman with cornrows and a dome-shaped torso that resembles a skirtlike house is by far the largest sculpture Ms. Leigh has created; even among the sea of skyscrapers and industrial-era brick buildings near the High Line, “Brick House” stands out. In an interview with The New York Times, Ms. Leigh said she thought the commission “would be a great opportunity to have something about black beauty right in the middle of that environment.” Info

Mark Manders | Tilted Head. The Dutch sculptor Mark Manders has taken over the Public Art Fund’s outdoor exhibition site, Doris C. Freedman Plaza for “Tilted Head.” This piece, a large head resting on its side, displays surface cracks and depressions suggesting it is made of clay when, in fact, it’s cast bronze. “All my works look like somebody worked on it and just left,” Mr. Manders said in a video about his process. “Tilted Head” resembles a massive, abandoned model that people could consider a stand-in for the real thing. —New York Times. Doris Freedman Plaza, Fifth Avenue at 60th Street, NY, NY Info

Left: Simone Leigh, BrickHouse, 2019; photo © Timothy Schenck, courtesy of The High Line

John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres | Banana Kelly Double Dutch. In 1982, the two artists scaled a wall next to Marcus Garvey Park, in the South Bronx, to mount “Banana Kelly Double Dutch — molds of four local girls in a tableau of the game. Mr. Ahearn and Mr. Torres have restored and reinstalled the work twice in the intervening years, first in 1986 and then in 2017, when Mr. Ahearn and Mr. Torres saw an opportunity to freshen it up after hearing the site was set for redevelopment. Last summer the girls, glistening like new, were returned to their original home — which now overlooks the parking lot of a nursing home. Info

Chronos Cosmos: Deep Time, Open Space | Radcliffe Bailey, Beatriz Cortez, Alicja Kwade, Eduardo Navarro, Heidi Neilson, Oscar Santillán, Miya Ando, William Lamson, and (MDR) Maria D. Rapicavoli. Chronos Cosmos: Deep Time, Open Space transforms Socrates Sculpture Park into a gateway to the universe, presenting artworks that consider space, time, and matter in relationship to celestial entities and earth-bound processes. In the open-air environment of the Long Island City waterfront park, the exhibition uses scale to put the universe in context, creating connection points to space and time. Socrates Sculpture Park, Long Island City, NY Info

Matt Keegan | what was & what is. “Marketing signs for newly-built apartment buildings are everywhere around Court Square Park in Long Island City, along with construction cranes and scaffolding, signaling that more units are on the way. Amid all this is Matt Keegan’s “what was & what is.” An off-site installation for the SculptureCenter, it includes a horizontal scroll that reads, “For a long time this neighborhood was about what will be, and now I think it’s about what is.” The quotation, from a developer, exemplifies how real estate professionals sometimes see the city as being in service to new development.”—New York Times Info

Alicja Kwade | Parapivot. For The Met’s 2019 Roof Garden Commission, Kwade has created two sculptures: ParaPivot I and II. These towering sculptures consisting of powder-coated steel frames that intersect at oblique angles, are nestled within are nine massive spheres that float in apparent weightlessness. “Precise, spare, elegant…[Kwade’s] sculpture makes use of optical tricks and careful positioning to evoke the instability, and the unknowability, of our place in the world.” —New York Times. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY Info

Mrinalini Mukherjee Phenomenal Nature marks the first retrospective of the artist in the United States. The exhibition brings together fifty-seven works by Mukherjee and explores the artist's longstanding engagement with fiber, along with her significant forays into ceramic and bronze towards the middle and latter half of her career. "Vegetal, sexual, exquisite, and strange....newly discovered objects of worship from some fecund alternate world" —The New YorkerThe Met Breuer, 945 Madison Avenue, NY, NY Info

Jordan Bennett | Tepkik. Inspired by the themes of ancestral and contemporary traditions, the new installation by Canadian-born artist Jordan Bennett draws from his Native heritage. The installation, at Brookfield Place, takes its name by Mi’kmaq, the word for “night” in his native language, and the materials are a combination of of 3M Diamond Grade reflective on aluminum and printed polysilk fabric. Info

Wade and Leta | Seascape Sculptures. South Street Seaport. With their seascape sculptures, Wade and Leta pay homage to the ocean floor and its otherworldly vegetation. Emulating cavernous structures of kelp and coral formations, their multi-dimensional sculptures (some reaching 10 feet tall) are splashed with color and pattern and inspired by the historic ships docked nearby at Pier 16. Like those ships, Wade and Leta’s sculptures will age and redefine themselves over the course of the summer. Info

Rachel Whiteread, Cabin, 2016; photo © Timothy Schenck, courtesy of The Trust for Governors Island.

Siah Armajani | Bridge over Tree. “There are not many places in New York City where you can put a 90-foot-long sculpture,” said Nicholas Baume, of the Public Art Fund. The versatile piece, which debuted in 1970 in Minnesota — where Siah Armajani, 79, currently lives — is particularly pertinent in the modern era, Baume said, given the current political climate and rhetoric surrounding walls and borders. “We’re having such a debate nationally, internationally about dividing people, about people belonging in one place and not the other, about seeing people as different and that they should be separated,” Baume said.“The idea of a bridge is about creating relationships, creating connections, allowing for interactions and connection.” Brooklyn Bridge Park, Brooklyn, NY Info

Rachel Whiteread | Cabin  continues the artist’s interest in producing evocative sculptures of negative spaces and structures. In this case, the artist has sited a concrete cast of the interior of a simple cabin, a place suggestive of retreat and introspection. Strewn around the cabin are numerous bronze casts of discarded objects including bottles, cans and other refuse; some of these objects were sourced on the Island itself. Sited on Discovery Hill, overlooking New York Harbor. Additionally, Governors Island is hosting numerous Artists in Residence programs, together with dance, poetryk and performance events, throughout the summer. Info

…And a few exhibition openings, info courtesy of DART subscribers:

Wednesday, July 17

2019 ADAA Chelsea Gallery Walk, 6-8 pm. 30 member galleries. Map

Julie Saul Gallery | Nineteen Years at 535, 6-8 pm. Julie Saul Gallery, 535 West 22nd Street, NY, NY Info

Summertime Salon 2019, 6-8 pm. Robin Rice Gallery, 325 West 11th Street, NY, NY Info

Thursday, July 18

Coast to Coast | New York Studio School Alum; curated by Karen Wilken. Berry Campbell Gallery, 530 West 24th Street, NY, NY Info

Poetry is Not a Luxury; The Reverse of Landscape; Sanctuary, 6:30-8:30 pm. The Center for Book Arts, 28 West 27th Street, NY, NY Info

Fresh 2019 | The 8th Annual Open Call Exhibition, 6-8 pm. Klompching Gallery, 89 Water Street, Brooklyn, NY Info
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