An exhibition of large-scale sculptures and paintings by Mark di Suvero will be on display at Paula Cooper Gallery from September 9th. The exhibition opens on the heels of Steel Like Paper, an extensive survey of di Suvero’s work at the Nasher Sculpture Center, TX (January 28 – August 27, 2023), and marks the esteemed sculptor’s ninetieth birthday (September 18, 2023).
Since his first New York exhibition at the Green Gallery in 1960, di Suvero has astounded audiences with his strong, monumentally-scaled sculpture made from salvaged metals. Reviewing di Suvero’s very first exhibition for Arts in 1960, Donald Judd described the size and force of di Suvero’s sculpture as “thunderous,” an adjective that is equally applicable to the new work di Suvero continues to produce today.
Almost fifteen feet high, Sooner or Later (2022) exemplifies di Suvero’s improvisatory process and ingenuity with steel. Incorporating a demolition claw and a hanging chain, the elegantly twisted, cut, and balanced fragments of metal reveal their past lives through peeling paint and graffiti. Sooner or Later is accompanied in the main gallery by Sprung Free (2020), a harmonious composition of red-hued steel beams and reflective stainless-steel on a stainless-steel base, decorated with curving and radiating grinding patterns. Another new sculpture, Family Portrait (2022-23), holds the front room. Here, three distinct vertical forms stand in a line, the cut steel shapes on the sides curving inwards towards the intricately entwined central coil in a gesture of containment. The form of the coil is echoed in the larger cut out shape beside it, further enhancing the formal implication of an intimate gathering.
Though best known for his constructions of steel and other industrial materials installed in public spaces around the world, di Suvero has also created, from the outset, a prolific number of paintings, drawings, and prints. Nova Diptych (1980–82) is a huge acrylic painting suspended within an L-shaped wooden armature. Designed for a corner, the three-dimensional painting envelops space similarly to di Suvero’s sculpture, while evincing his predilection for calligraphic shapes. Abundant with bold color and intricate patterning, di Suvero’s painting offers bi-dimensional foils to the majestic sculptural assemblages.
[1.] Donald Judd, “In the Galleries,” Arts, October 1960.