On the right path

Sculpture by the Sea goes from strength to strength, writes John McDonald.

Sculpture by the Sea owes much of its appeal to its outdoor setting, but the exposed location brings its own hazards. There have been years in which the narrow walking trail from Bondi to Tamarama was nothing but a procession of duelling umbrellas. This year the installation was impeded by strong winds that made it difficult to carry out the precise and delicate operations required to set each sculpture in place.

On the day of the preview, crews were still wrestling with a few recalcitrant pieces, but by the weekend everything was finished in time for the crowds to descend. This is the 16th occasion the show has been held at Bondi and, judging by the traffic in the area last Sunday, its popularity shows no sign of diminishing.

By now SxS must be recognised as a Sydney institution, although this doesn't mean it is beyond criticism. The founder, David Handley, would probably agree that the popularity of the exhibition is based on a blend of significant works by recognised artists and pieces of a humorous or experimental persuasion, often contributed by amateurs or young aspirationals.

Needless to say, the professionals can still do dud sculptures, and many an amateur work could best be described as a gag or a gimmick. When there are too many trivial pieces the show loses its way, so the selection process is crucial. What's the verdict this year? Overall, a pretty solid performance.

The key factor is a strong showing by established sculptors such as Dave Horton, Orest Keywan, Paul Selwood, James Rogers, Philip Spelman and Lou Lambert.

It's also a good year for Linda Bowden, who joins the ''decade club'' with her 10th appearance in SxS. Bowden's entire career as a sculptor may be charted through these appearances.

Ron Robertson-Swann, who is probably the senior Australian sculptor in the exhibition, has produced an unusual work called Warrior. By Robertson-Swann's standards, this almost qualifies as a figurative piece, with the unmistakable suggestion of a standing figure. The metal components have been put together with little transformation in the manner of an assemblage. While Robertson-Swann's work is known for its elegance, there is a real awkwardness about this work. To have more of an impact it probably needs to be bigger, but the size is dependent on the found components.

I could say much the same about Michael Le Grand's Mnemosyne, which evokes the Greek goddess of memory in its title, but resembles a cartoon animal. Once again the work seems to hint at a figurative dimension that is never quite achieved.

Another established sculptor who has deviated from a familiar path is Koichi Ishino, who now qualifies as an Australian artist, although his work could hardly look more Japanese with its immaculate crafting of stainless steel and granite. After a succession of vertical pieces, Ishino has produced a low, flat work with a landscape element. It is, however, just as beautiful and skilful as any of his previous SxScontributions.

It is no surprise that the Japanese sculptors have contributed an impressive group of works again this year, with Hiroaki Nakayama's Came Back set to be a favourite. One viewer at a time may sit in a black-granite chair and contemplate the ocean through a slit in a towering monolith made from the same granite. The only problem is to find a moment when people aren't photographing each other in front of the work.

We tend to think of Chinese sculpture as figurative in inspiration, but Sui Jianguo and Zhang Yangen have both produced relatively abstract works, the former using a steel grid to reproduce the organic shape of a rock; the latter placing a brickwork sphere inside a stainless-steel ''egg''.

Uncharacteristically for Chinese contemporary artists, there is no satirical edge to either work, simply an engagement with nature and the cosmos.

For social satire one must head for the park in Tamarama, where Rod McCrae has created an elaborate pavilion filled with stuffed animals on the site of the old Wonderland City amusement park. The Tent of Wonders is represented in the catalogue by only a rough sketch, but it is an entire solo exhibition masquerading as an installation. McCrae's taxidermy sends a message about vivisection and animal cruelty that Voiceless would probably endorse, but it is also a commentary on human folly, like those images of a money painter that were popular in the 18th century.

It is inevitable that such an installation feels like a school project with delusions of grandeur. As far as sculpture goes, The Tent is a great piece of entertainment.

One could argue - like the section headings on the Herald website - that all art is entertainment, but there is a lot of room to move within that term. Anthony Caro (born 1924), who is becoming a regular participant in SxS, is an iconic figure in modern sculpture. He is a pioneer of those abstract, welded metal constructions that have become a distinct genre across the planet.

There is always something entertaining about Caro's work in the way he thinks through a particular combination of forms, shifting direction constantly throughout his long career. Eastern, Caro's contribution to this year's SxS, dates from 1983-85. Its bright-yellow paint job may recall Robertson-Swann's Vault (1980), which became the most controversial public sculpture in Australia when it was installed in Melbourne's City Square and subsequently moved, amid a furore of argument and protest.

Nowadays, Melbourne has a new admiration for Vault, and Caro's Eastern looks almost classical in relation to other pieces in SxS. The artist has said he tried to make a sculpture on the principle of concavity rather than convexity, which has resulted in a work that seems to be in a state of arrested collapse, its heavy, interlocking components leaning into each other.

On one hand Eastern is only concerned with achieving a particular spatial effect, but one might also see a broader metaphor in its vision of an inward-turning entity, frozen at a point before irretrievable decline sets in. One thinks of the great empires of China and the Middle East that chose to deliberately reject new ideas, and watched the West achieve political ascendancy. Nowadays the historical currents are moving in the opposite direction.

This year's $70,000 Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize was awarded to American Peter Lundberg for his work Barrel Roll. The work has a monumental, almost totemic presence, but also an organic dimension. This is a result of Lundberg's manipulation of concrete to produce moulded forms that seem to twist and turn, as if they have grown that way. The piece is actually made by taking a concrete cast from a hole excavated in the earth. The touches of colour come from the red clay in the ditch.

Lundberg was a worthy prizewinner, but there was plenty of competition in this year's field of 113 exhibitors. I don't have space to discuss the show in greater depth, but one of the pleasures of SxS - as with the dreaded Archibald Prize - is that it allows everyone to be an art critic for a day. It would be good to believe that out of this mass scrutiny a new appreciation of sculpture is gradually emerging.

The process of sculptural education might be even further advanced if the ongoing feud between SxS and some of the commercial galleries, over commissions on sales, were ever to be resolved. That seems no more likely now than this time last year, so as an equal-opportunity critic I feel obliged to mention the new initiative of the Defiance Sculpture Park at the Gate Gallery, in Wollombi Valley, less than two hours' drive from Sydney. I said a few words at the opening a couple of weeks ago, but that hardly constitutes a conflict of interest.

For many years Campbell Robertson-Swann of Defiance Gallery has been talking up the need for a dedicated sculpture park, and has finally succeeded in putting together a high-quality display including works by Phillip King, Ian McKay, Paul Hopmeier, Jan King and about 20 other reputable sculptors. Only Paul Selwood and Greg Johns have managed to cross the great divide to be represented in both Wollombi and Bondi.

So if the crowds at Bondi prove too discouraging, one now has the option of Sculpture in the Bush, or more attractively, Sculpture in the Vineyards.



Winner of the Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize 2012 - Sculpture by the Sea exhibition opens

TOBY MANN   OCTOBER 18, 2012 5:00PM

THE stretch of coast between Sydney's Bondi and Tamarama beaches has again been transformed into an outdoor art gallery by the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibition.

Now in its sixteenth year, the exhibition was opened on Thursday by NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, who hailed the economic benefits of the sprawling installation.

Starting as a one-day event in 1997, the exhibition will showcase 113 sculptures over 18 days from October 18 to November 4, with works from 77 Australian and 36 overseas artists.

This year, 500,000 visitors are expected to amble along the coastline, soaking up the sun and enjoying what has become the world's largest annual free outdoor sculpture exhibition.

American artist Peter Lundberg, who creates his sculptures by casting concrete into forms dug into the earth, won the annual $70,000 Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Prize, announced at the opening ceremony, for his work Barrel Roll.

"This is an exceptional surprise," he said on receipt of the award.

"This is a tremendous honour. It's great just to be part of this exceptional exhibition."

Mr Lundberg's sculpture will be placed in the Royal Botanic Gardens alongside works by the past three years prize winner's when the exhibition is over.

"I'm sure my sculpture will be happy in your garden," Mr Lundberg said.

Former Art Gallery of NSW senior curator and Balnaves Prize judge Terence Maloon said the panel had unanimously selected Mr Lundberg as this year's winner.

"Peter Lundberg's Barrel Roll impressed us with its majestic scale, its visceral energy and impact in the natural setting," he said.


Giant 'Loup Garou' sculpture relocated to $75,000 base at UNO

By Doug MacCash, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune on July 28, 2011 at 11:38 AM, updated July 28, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Why did the "Loup Garou" cross the road? 

In late June, Peter Lundberg’s 207,000-pound, 33-ft.-tall concrete sculpture “Loup Garou” was moved from its fractured base in front of the University of New Orleans art department, to a sturdy new platform in a grove of magnolia and mimosa trees, just yards away, across Harwood Drive. The cost of the relocation was $75,000.

Lundberg is a Vermont-based sculptor, who has placed similarly gigantic concrete casings around the U.S., as well as in Germany and China. In 2006 he and sculptor Michael Manjarris founded Sculpture for New Orleans, an altruistic organization that has placed public artworks across the city. “Loup Garou,” named for the French Louisiana werewolf myth, is Lundberg’s personal contribution to the effort.  Lundberg values "Loup Garou" at $150,000. It is on loan to UNO.

Crossing the road was the last leg of an eventful and expensive journey for what is probably New Orleans’ most massive artwork.

In late December 2009, Lundberg dug a swimming-pool-sized hole in the yard behind a warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood. He filled the rough shape with tons of tangled reinforcing rods, tires, boulders and other debris, plus a sea of concrete. An industrial crane pried the hardened mass from the earth like an enormous fossil and Lundberg’s behemoth was born. The original title of the sculpture was “Mississippi Gateway,” but Lundberg changed the name when he learned of the Louisiana werewolf.  The new title fit better with his custom of naming his sculpture after mythological creatures. The mammoth cost $30,000 to create Lundberg said, paid for by an anonymous benefactor.

In May 2010, a small crowd gathering in the rain to watch a towering crane attempt to place the sculpture, then titled “Mississippi Passage” upright in a meadow beside the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park. But the massive shape refused to settle evenly on the soggy ground, so the104-ton sculpture was plopped horizontally on the lawn, where it lay for months. The cost to move the sculpture was $20,000, Lundberg said; also paid for by an anonymous benefactor. 

Read: "Heavy sculpture remains horizontal in New Orleans City Park" here.

Sometime after, Lundberg says he appealed to UNO art professor Christopher Saucedo to allow him to move the “Loup Garou” to the Lakefront campus. Saucedo welcomed Lundberg’s loan of the commanding artwork.

In January 2011, “Loup Garou” was lowered onto a custom-made concrete pad near the art department building. The cost to move the sculpture to UNO was $20,000. Lundberg said he paid for the relocation himself.

But the move did not end smoothly. The crushingly heavy sculpture cracked the concrete base and some onlookers believed the three-story artwork could become unbalanced and fall. Harwood Drive was closed and “Loup Garou” was caged with caution tape. Susan Krantz, dean of UNO’s College of Liberal Arts  explained the need to relocate the sculpture in a July 5 email. 

“Independent site engineers determined that the sculpture's original placement could prove unstable because of the severe weather in the area on occasion and because the land on which it sat could shift,” Krantz wrote. “It was determined that we would have to: 1 -- get permission to lie it down until it could be removed to a new locale entirely; 2 -- ask the artist to remove it and pay for the removal (at $20,000), or 3 -- erect another base close by and move the sculpture. For us at UNO, it was an easy decision-we had to find a way to satisfy the engineers and keep the sculpture at UNO.”

Read "Giant concrete sculpture has moved from City Park to UNO" here.

In late June, “Loup Garou” was moved into its new position, a few yards away, across Harwood Drive. The monstrous sculpture was placed on a much sturdier custom-built concrete platform, rooted by 14 45-foot-deep foundation pilings. Krantz explained the details of the new installation like so: “The bill for building a new base that would satisfy the engineering requirement in size, but would also allow for the appearance of the work emanating from the earth, not standing on a pedestal, was nearly $75,000. This was all inclusive of building the base and moving the piece. Although the price was high, the value of the sculpture itself is far, far above that, and its value to UNO as an art community of higher learning made the cost more than reasonable. Luckily, we were able to find funds to be able to keep the piece displayed at UNO.”

On Tuesday (July 26)  Lundberg completed the cleaning of the sculpture. By then, the cost of the overall project had reached $145,000. Krantz wrote that “The piece is an extraordinarily fine example of Lundberg's monumental work. It stands 2 stories high to pay homage to and rise from the native landscape. It organic shape embodies a variety of materials-both meaningful and mundane, and inspires its viewers to explore how an artist's vision can transform materials into new creations. In this case Lundberg evinces the swamp wolf of legend--gigantic, dark, mythical. We believe that our students and visitors alike can be impressed by its power and inspired to look deeper into the art around them.”

Professor Saucedo admires Lundberg for creating a sculpture that is “unapologetic in all regards.” He considers the concrete monolith to be “honest, coarse, ugly and powerful.” The gnarled shape implies “the apocalypse already happened,” Saucedo said. He points out that the simple shape embodies striking male and female aspects.

Lundberg is relieved “Loup Garou” has finally found a home. “It’s been kicking around for a while.” he said. He says that he's confident the bottom-heavy sculpture was never going to topple in its first UNO location, but he’s happy with the new, more stable installation. He says the sculpture has a New Orleans feel, because it’s come through so much and is “standing tall and proud now.”

Lundberg’s sculpture is one of two new Goliaths on the UNO campus. Read about Seward Johnson’s 20-foot, $2 million “King Lear” sculpture here.

What do you think of Lundberg’s “Loup Garou” and/or Johnson’s “King Lear?” We’d like to hear from UNO students and faculty. Please post comments below, or write to Doug MacCash at dmaccash@timespicayune.com.

Doug MacCash can be reached at dmaccash@timespicayune.com or 504.826.3481. Follow him on Twitter.


Ausstellung in Büdelsdorf NordArt: Große Kunst in kleinem Ort

05. Juni 2011 | 16:10 Uhr | Von Jeanette Schiller, Schleswig-Holstein am Sonntag

büdelsdorf. Wer durch den beschaulichen Ort Büdelsdorf in Schleswig-Holstein fährt, vermutet nicht, dass das kleine Örtchen über vier Monate lang zu einer Metropole der ganz besonderen Art wird. In den Hallen und auf dem Gelände der ehemaligen Carlshütte, die zum Unternehmen ACO gehören, öffnet bis 2. Oktober 2011 die NordArt ihre Tore.

Das Angebot ist überraschend groß und vielfältig: von Malerei und Fotografie über Skulpturen und Installationen bis hin zu experimenteller und Videokunst ist alles dabei. Sowohl Werke von renommierten zeitgenössischen Künstlern als auch neueste Kunst-Tendenzen sind zu sehen. An vielen Stellen ergeben sich interessante Durchblicke, Einblicke und Überblicke auf die Kunstwerke, denn jedes einzelne Stück wurde in Verbindung zu seiner Umgebung überlegt platziert. Die Atmosphäre des zehn Hektar großen parkähnlichen Geländes und der Charme der alten Industriehallen erhöhen den Unterhaltungswert der Ausstellung.

Monumentale Großskulpturen

Beim Betreten des Parks fallen dem Besucher zunächst die monumentalen Großskulpturen ins Auge, darunter eine zwölf Meter hohe Arbeit des amerikanischen Künstlers Peter Lundberg. Das 60 Tonnen schwere Kunstwerk wurde vor Ort nach den Vorgaben des Künstlers aus Beton gegossen und mit Hubkränen aufgestellt. In einer riesigen glänzenden Lotusblüte aus Edelstahl spiegelt sich der Betrachter vielfach wider. Die Skulptur stammt von Zeng Chenggang, einem Kunstprofessor aus China und war auch schon bei der Expo in Shanghai zu sehen. Als internationaler Shooting-Star gilt der tschechische Künstler David Cerny. Seine Installationen sind an zahlreichen Plätzen der Welt zu bewundern. Nach Büdelsdorf hat der Künstler die Skulptur einer schwangeren Frau geschickt.


Die weitläufigen Industriehallen wurden in diesem Jahr geschickt durch Raum-Kuben unterteilt. So entstand mehr Platz zum Hängen der Kunstwerke und vielerorts eine private Atmosphäre. Speziell für die NordArt schuf Rene Schoemakers, der gerade den Lucas-Cranach-Preis erhalten hat, einen beeindruckenden Raum. In einem anderen Kubus überzeugen vier großformatige, farb- und ausdrucksstarke Ölbilder der Künstlerin Wiebke Kramer. Über 50 Meter weiße Leinwände reihen sich in einem anderen 5,50 Meter hohen Raum aneinander. Hier soll während der NordArt Europas größtes transportables Gemälde entstehen. Einige der ausstellenden Künstler sind aufgerufen daran mitzuwirken, später soll das Großkunstwerk auf Tournee gehen.

Viele Kunstwerke stehen zum Verkauf

Wer steckt hinter so viel Ideenreichtum und Kunst-Engagement? Offiziell ist die NordArt eine Initiative des Unternehmens ACO und der Städte Büdelsdorf und Rendsburg. Maßgebliche Motoren sind der Unternehmer Hans Julius Ahlmann, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter der ACO-Gruppe und der Künstler und Kulturmanager Wolfgang Gramm und sein Team. Aus ihrer Freude, Kunst ins Unternehmen zu holen, ist die Ausstellung seit 1993 stetig gewachsen. Heute ist die Schau über Deutschlands Grenzen hinaus bekannt. "Die Qualität spricht sich in der Kunst-Szene herum", so Gramm. Etwa 1200 Künstler aus 72 Ländern hatten sich in diesem Jahr mit ihren Arbeiten beworben. Die Mappen wurden an mehreren Wochenenden von einer Jury gesichtet. An der Auswahl waren neben dem Unternehmer Ahlmann und dem Ausstellungsleiter Gramm auch ein Vertreter des Landesmuseums Schleswig-Holstein sowie weitere Künstler beteiligt.

Die meisten der ausgestellten Kunstwerke stehen auch zum Verkauf. Die Preise reichen von mehreren hundert Euro bis zu einer halben Million Euro. Obwohl sich die NordArt nicht als Kunstmesse versteht, freuen sich die Organisatoren, wenn die Künstler ihre ausgestellten Werke auch vermarkten können.

In diesem Jahr nutzt erstmals auch das Schleswig-Holstein Festival an sieben Terminen die großzügigen räumlichen Möglichkeiten der Carlshütte. Bis September finden außerdem verschiedene Jazzkonzerte, Lesungen und ein Open-Air-Kino Filmfest statt. Zur Ausstellung erscheint ein aufwendig gestalteter Katalog.

NordArt-Prize 2011

Peter Lundberg (USA)

The name of this years awardee,  Peter Lundberg, was announced at the 'Long Night of the Lights' on the 17th of September. 
The price giving ceremony will take place during the opening of the NordArt 2012.

Peter Lundberg – "Katla", 2010, concrete, iron reinforcement, height: 13 meter

The Award Ceremony at the opening NordArt 2012 on 2 June 2012