The Neuberger Museum of Art is participating in a unique project centering upon the work of world-renowned artist Andy Goldsworthy in collaboration with Iowa’s Des Moines Art Center and San Diego’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Goldsworthy is a British landscape artist/sculptor who has been involved in outdoor sculpture projects for more than twenty years. The project, Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns, is based upon his idea to initiate a multifaceted creative work that spans the United States by connecting the nation’s heartland with its East and West coasts.
Cairns are symbolic stone constructs that identify a place, which may have societal or ritualistic importance like Stonehenge. Typically, the stones that constitute the cairn are held together solely by their own weight.
Goldsworthy is implementing his vision in phases by creating unique, permanent large-scale sculptures at the three participating sites-–Purchase, NY, Des Moines, Iowa, and San Diego, CA. He is also creating ephemeral cairns at the three sites, which will be photographed for subsequent gallery exhibition. Des Moines’ first phase was completed on the Iowa plains in May 2001. The New York phase begins at the Neuberger Museum in late October of this year. The San Diego phase began August 2001.
Goldsworthy will begin building permanent cairns in Purchase on October 29, and at Des Moines and San Diego after January 2002. Ultimately, these cairns will become a permanent addition to the outdoor sculpture collection of each sponsoring institution. Subsequent exhibitions will include photographic documentation of ephemeral cairns built on the Iowa prairie and the East and West coasts that will be photographed as they are eroded by nature. By photographing the cairns’ erosion in a sequence of changing light conditions against a dramatic, panoramic horizon, Goldsworthy will record the life cycle of his ephemeral sculptures to symbolize regeneration. He also will create a site-specific work using natural materials that conceptually connects inside with outside, making each institution’s gallery exhibition distinct.
In late October, the artist and an assistant will begin the Neuberger Museum of Art project by employing more than 22 tons of stone excavated from a quarry near Des Moines and trucked to Purchase to create an eight and one-half-foot high permanent cairn on the Purchase College campus. The stone will be layered, stacked, and formed into a monumental, beehive-shaped construct without the use of mortar. The cairn will be erected under a grand oak tree near the campus entrance where it will weather and age slowly, remaining intact for many generations. The artist will then build and photograph an ephemeral cairn in a single day on Long Island Sound.
In February 2003, the Neuberger Museum will present an exhibition of large-scale photographs documenting the stages of deconstruction of ephemeral cairns built by Goldsworthy. The exhibition will also include a large, site-specific screen created by the artist from local natural materials such as grass and twigs that will be suspended in the center of the Museum’s gallery.
Andy Goldsworthy’s work is about growth and change, the nature and passage of time and the concept that as individuals we all are here for just a moment in time but nature endures, says Dede Young, the Neuberger Museum of Art’s Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art who is overseeing the Neuberger’s project. Goldsworthy’s cairns represent an engineering feat as well as artistic creativity. The process of shaping and stacking the stones into a simple oval shape is challenging and intense. The form symbolizes fullness and ripeness, time and energy, loss and endurance.
Goldsworthy was born in Cheshire England in 1956. He lives in Penpont, Dumfriesshire, Scotland near the Cairn River. Although Goldsworthy travels constantly, he considers his art to be rooted in the British landscape. He works in collaboration with nature and thrives on what nature offers in terms of change, decay, regeneration and power. In nature he experiences and studies the change of time and of the seasons.
Andy Goldsworthy: Three Cairns was initiated by the Des Moines Art Center and organized in collaboration with the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego and the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York. The project curators are Susan Lubowsky Talbott, Director, and Chris Gilbert, Associate Curator, of the Des Moines Art Center. At the Neuberger Museum of Art the project is coordinated by Dr. Lucinda Gedeon, Director, Dede Young, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Jacqueline Shilkoff, Assistant Curator. The project is mounted with the assistance of Gallerie Lelong, NYC and Haines Gallery, San Francisco.
Each museum is planning a publication documenting their permanent work and gallery exhibition with site-specific elements. The publications will ultimately be bound as a set. The artist is planning a future publication including the Three Cairns project that will be distributed by Harry N. Abrams, Inc.