It’s become something of a regular fixture that we visit the Beyond Limits exhibition of contemporary sculpture organised by Sothebys at Chatsworth. So last Sunday we drove over to Derbyshire to take a look at the works on display. This year the focus was entirely American with works from artists including Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra and Robert Indiana.
My overall impression was that this year’s exhibition wasn’t as strong as the others we’ve seen – there didn’t seem to be as much variety and there was a “sameness” about a number of the works. However, when reviewing the photographs while preparing this post, my perception changed somewhat and I found more variation than I initially thought and found that I appreciated more some of the works after a second look – albeit looking at photos. So, a worthwhile visit with some attractive sculptures and new discoveries.
So, what did we see?
Leaning Fork with Meatball and Spaghetti III by Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen was the first work we saw. Not a good start for me as I wasn’t impressed. It’s meant to be amusing, I thought it was corny.
Tropical Night Disc by Louise Nevelson. Much more interesting.
Three sided pyramid by Sol Lewitt. Does what it says on the tin!
Untitled by Joel Shapiro. Sited at the bottom of the grand cascade
Gradiva, the first of 5 sculptures in the exhibition by Julian Schanabel. It looks like the local pigeons have been paying attention to this one.
Joe by Julian Schanabel
Si Tacuisses by Julian Schanabel
Leutweyler for BB by Julian Schanabel
Untitled , a second work by Joel Shapiro
The Cave by Mark di Suvero. In previous years the works sited by the ornamental pond have been enhanced by the setting with reflections in the water. So although this was an interesting enough piece, the location didn’t really add to its appeal for me.
Irregular Procession by Sol Lewitt
Lock by Richard Serra.
The work is formed from five separate steel parts: two thin plates that stand upright on their sides and three smaller blocks that sit along the ground. These separate elements are not fused in any way; rather Serra relies on the forces of gravity and a careful balancing of the relative weights to achieve stability.
Voltri Bolton X by David Smith
Big M by Wendell Castle. Another one that does what it says on the tin. Originally created for the Marine Midland Bank, Rochester, New York
Barrier by Robert Morris, which looks like a giant hash tag. Of course the hash tag wasn’t quite so ubiquitous when this work was created in 1962 so an illustration how the interpretation and understanding of art works can change over time with cultural changes.
Untitled by Sam Francis
Column of Four Squares Excentric Gyratory III by George Rickey.
This kinetic sculpture was attracting a lot of interest as it moved, twisting a twirling randomly. I think most people were fascinated and wondered how it worked. I think its movements depended on the wind.
Source by Tony Smith. Although painted with a uniform colour the two tone nature of the pigment created some interesting optical effects. I rather liked this work because of that.
Curvae in Curvae by Beverly Pepper. This was the last work we saw during our tour of the exhibition and it was probably my favourite. Don’t think I can afford to buy it, though!
Of course, what I think is irrelevant really. This is a selling exhibition in a setting meant to impress the wealthy individuals and corporations who are helicoptered in to view the sculptures, with hopes of a sale. It no doubt attracts a few extra paying visitors like us to swell the Chatsworth coffers. But it’s a good opportunity to view works of art we otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to see and in a beautiful setting which enhances many of the works. All being well we’ll be back again next autumn.
Tropical Night Disc and Voltri Bolton X are my favourites, though it’s hard to say from a photograph – so much depends on being able to walk around and view from different angles. In these two cases my opinion might be swayed by the background as I also think they have the prettiest settings.
I think the setting and environment are important in how a work of art, especially large scale sculpture comes across. No accident, then, that Sothebys risk these works being exposed to the gaze and the hands of the hoi polio when putting them up for sale. The setting certainly enhances the works.