Sculpture in the Great Outdoors

It’s not the first place one might think to go on a sultry July afternoon in Boston, but the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum turns out to be a lovely spot to while away a few warm hours.


There I am lying back on the eerily named Double Grave by Elisabeth Tubergen, enjoying the shade offered by the spectacular beech tree overhead (I might have enjoyed it less had I realized that the “structures” of this sculpture “silently exert control over their users’ bodies, grant entry, and serve as barriers”).

The deCordova has over fifty sculptures in its thirty-acre outdoor park, all created by modern and contemporary artists. We didn’t see all fifty — on a hot summer’s day, we were not inclined to move too quickly or too far — but we did get to at least half of them. My very favorite piece was Nancy Winship Millikin’s Pasture Song:


The horsehair bristles of this kinetic piece (which the artist reclaimed from old cello bows) change shape in the breeze, transforming from a nearly-flat sheet …fullsizeoutput_4b12.jpeg

… to a billowing wave:fullsizeoutput_4b18

I loved watching it ebb and flow in the wind.

Another favorite was Humming, a marble bust by Jaume Plensa …


… which seems almost to move and change shape as you walk around it:


My mother, sister and I all had a good time at The Musical Fence, an interactive piece by Paul Matisse …


… that makes beautiful sounds:

We also grabbed drumsticks and banged on the lanterns of City Lights Orchestra by Andy Graydon …


… but while the discarded street lamps make for beautiful objects in the sunlight, they don’t produce much more than a disappointing thud when you hit them.


It was interesting to walk inside Dan Graham’s Crazy Spheroid — Two Entrances (which my mom subtitled The Bus Stop)…


… and among the ghostly doors of Saul Melman’s Best of All Possible Worlds …


… which were made out of molds from doors in the artist’s own house.


I also enjoyed the simplicity of Donut with 3 Balls by Fletcher Benton …


… the flowing curves of Isaac Witkin’s Jacob’s Dream


… the whimsy of B. Wurtz’s Kitchen Trees 9 (which is made of colanders, pots and pans, and plastic fruits and vegetables) …


… the organic grace of Lupis by John Raimondi …


… the expansive rolling downhill slide of DeWitt Godfrey’s Lincoln


… and the clever tree-within-a forest of Measure (Tree) by Josephine Halverson:


I had mixed feelings about Aaron Curry’s Grove, a three-sculpture arrangement that purports to be humorous …


… because while Blubat seemed like fun …


… it’s harder to smile when the other two sculptures are called Homewrecker and, in this case, Ugly Mess:


Several of the pieces left me entirely unmoved, including Letha Wilson’s Hawaii California Steel Figure


… and Robert Lobe’s Environmental Impact Statement:


I couldn’t help wondering if I would like these pieces more if they were differently sited; while some sculptures at the deCordova seem to sit well in the landscape, others feel more haphazard. Location matters greatly in a sculpture park. For example, the deCordova’s entryway and ticket booth are striking:


I had a great time at the deCordova, though I feel like I only touched the tip of the iceberg. We missed half of the sculptures, an entire museum (which is currently showcasing contemporary New England Artists), and the brightly-lit cafe. But we happily patronized the terrific museum shop and really enjoyed having a picnic in the shade …


… where the organisms in the mulch were growing a little bit of art of their own!


One response to “Sculpture in the Great Outdoors

  1. Pingback: Exploring Boston | Traveler Tina·

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