Amazing Art Installation

I’m a big fan of the Des Moines Art Center. I have had the privilege to see American Gothic, the Birthplace of Herbert Hoover, and other works by Grant Woods, one of the Pope paintings by Francis Bacon, and Mural by Jackson Pollack. They currently have a series of installations by an English artist named Phyllida Barlow called Scree. Part of it is a series of drawings by the artist combined with several works in the permanent collection of the Art Center. This part was OK, but the installation of the Scree Stage sculpture was amazing. It literally took my breath away.

Because of copyright issues, I could not take any pictures of the installation. Here is the web site from the art center. Iowa Public Radio did an interview with the artist and one of the installation crew with much better pictures of the work. The work is enormous, consisting of multiple pillars of plaster covered steel. These have a needle like hole in the top of each. Some of these columns do not reach to the floor. These columns support a structure of square tiles that have what looks like canvas on them. They are then painted, typically one color. These are stacked with more plaster or foam coated steel in the shape of rocks. It is like a strange landscape. The entire structure is elevated from the ground, and you can see under it. I recommend doing that as well, as the effect is completely different and very complementary.

On the other wall, there were awnings covered with fabric. The awnings themselves were grey, but the fabric was brilliantly colored. These played with the same colors as the stage, lending an interesting contrast in style, but with the same colors. Again, looking under these individual pieces is worthwhile, as the effect is very serene and yet surreal.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend seeing this installation. If not, I suggest doing a web search on Phyllida Barlow and seeing where she is exhibiting.


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