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Storm King Art Center: At the Intersection of Nature and Art

One hour north of NYC, a 500 acre open-air museum with over 100 pieces of sculpture

View of the South Fields, all works by Mark di Suvero.  Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson
Liberman – Iliad:
Alexander Liberman 
Iliad, 1974-76
Painted steel.
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc.
©The Alexander Liberman Trust.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

View of the South Fields, all works by Mark di Suvero.  Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson Liberman – Iliad: Alexander Liberman Iliad, 1974-76 Painted steel. Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc. ©The Alexander Liberman Trust. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

View of the South Fields, all works by Mark di Suvero. 
Pyramidian, 1987/1998.
Gift of the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation. 
Jeanne, 2014-2015.
Courtesy of the artist and Spacetime C.C., New York. 
Photo by Jerry L. Thompson.

View of the South Fields, all works by Mark di Suvero.  Pyramidian, 1987/1998. Gift of the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation.  Jeanne, 2014-2015. Courtesy of the artist and Spacetime C.C., New York.  Photo by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Frog Legs, 2002. 
Lent by the artist and Spacetime, C.C., New York.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Frog Legs, 2002. Lent by the artist and Spacetime, C.C., New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Josephine Halvorson, Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Josephine Halvorson, Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Josephine Halvorson, detail of Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Photograph by Jeffry Sturges.

Josephine Halvorson, detail of Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photograph by Jeffry Sturges.

Josephine Halvorson, Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Josephine Halvorson, Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Summer class at Storm King Art Center.

Summer class at Storm King Art Center.

Entrance to a Garden
2002
Painted steel angle, perforated stainless steel, bolts, landscaping material. ©Dennis Oppenheim
Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate
Photo: Jeffrey Sturges

Entrance to a Garden 2002 Painted steel angle, perforated stainless steel, bolts, landscaping material. ©Dennis Oppenheim Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate Photo: Jeffrey Sturges

Dead Furrow
1967/2016
Wood surfaced with organic pigment, PVC pipe
Fabricated at Storm King Art Center. © Dennis Oppenheim
Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

Dead Furrow 1967/2016 Wood surfaced with organic pigment, PVC pipe Fabricated at Storm King Art Center. © Dennis Oppenheim Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson

Alternative Landscape Components
2006 
Trees, bushes, rocks made of painted steel, steel drums, PVC pipe, acrylic . ©Dennis Oppenheim
Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate
Photo: Jeffrey Sturges

Alternative Landscape Components 2006 Trees, bushes, rocks made of painted steel, steel drums, PVC pipe, acrylic . ©Dennis Oppenheim Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate Photo: Jeffrey Sturges

Architectural Cactus Grove, #1–6
2008
Water-jet-cut aluminum, translucent fiberglass panels, colored
aluminum sheet, anodized aluminum, diamond plate
aluminum, roofing panels, grating
Area covered: 1/2 acre (1,000 sq. m)
©Dennis Oppenheim
Architectural Cactus #1-5: Dennis Oppenheim Estate
Architectural Cactus #6 gift of The Watermill Center, New York, NY

Architectural Cactus Grove, #1–6 2008 Water-jet-cut aluminum, translucent fiberglass panels, colored aluminum sheet, anodized aluminum, diamond plate aluminum, roofing panels, grating Area covered: 1/2 acre (1,000 sq. m) ©Dennis Oppenheim Architectural Cactus #1-5: Dennis Oppenheim Estate Architectural Cactus #6 gift of The Watermill Center, New York, NY

Alexander Liberman 
Foreground:
Menashe Kadishman 
Suspended, 1977
Weathering steel. 
Gift of Muriel and Philip I. Berman, Allentown, PA. 
©Menashe Kadishman.
Adam, 1970 
Painted stee.
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc. 
© The Alexander Liberman Trust. 
Alice Aycock 
Three-Fold Manifestation II, 1987 (refabricated 2006)
Painted steel and aluminum, 29' 3

Alexander Liberman Foreground: Menashe Kadishman Suspended, 1977 Weathering steel. Gift of Muriel and Philip I. Berman, Allentown, PA.  ©Menashe Kadishman. Adam, 1970 Painted stee. Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc.  © The Alexander Liberman Trust. Alice Aycock Three-Fold Manifestation II, 1987 (refabricated 2006) Painted steel and aluminum, 29' 3" x 14" x 12'. Gift of the artist. Lyman Kipp Lockport, 1977 Painted aluminum, 17’ 2” x 12’ x 8’ 11” Purchased with the aid of funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Mother Peace, 1969–70. 
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. 
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Mother Peace, 1969–70. Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Pyramidian, 1987/1998. 
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. 
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Mark di Suvero, Pyramidian, 1987/1998. Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation. Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

There are no walls, and very few “do not touch” signs.  Visitors can walk, ride a bike, nap, and experience the art. Each piece finds its own space and its own relationship to the landscape, the seasons, and the public: the placement of those works is just as important as the art itself.

Imagine 500 acres of beautifully curated landscape. Now put over 100 pieces of sculpture on it, and add hiking, biking, and walking trails. If you can imagine all of that, you’ve just imagined Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, New York, just 1 hour north of NYC.

Storm King has been welcoming visitors for over 50 years. Named after its proximity to Storm King Mountain, it is a great contrast to indoor museums. Here, there are no walls, and very few “do not touch” signs.  Visitors see the art in the landscape; and find their own way through.  They can walk, they can ride a bike, nap, and even roll down hills.

Storm King Art Center

Electric Kiss
2008
Rolled stainless steel, colored cast half-round acrylic rod
10 x 10 x 10 (3 x 3 x 3 m)
©Dennis Oppenheim
Courtesy Dennis Oppenheim Estate
Photo: Jeffrey Sturges.

The Center’s history is as fascinating as the sculptures that grace its land. Although Storm King was originally envisioned as a museum devoted to the Hudson River School, by 1961 its founders had become committed to modern sculpture. Early purchases were placed directly outside the Museum Building as part of a formal garden scheme. But with the 1966 purchase of thirteen works from the estate of sculptor David Smith (1906-1965), Storm King began to place sculpture directly on the landscape.  Oddly enough, that landscape was helped in part by building of the NY State Thruway in the 1950’s.  The extra gravel from that excavation was used to grade and accentuate the pre-existing fields, hills, and woodlands in the area, creating a more natural-like setting for the art.

Storm King Art Center

Alexander Liberman
Iliad, 1974-76
Painted steel
36’ x 54’ 7” x 19’ 7”
Gift of the Ralph E. Ogden Foundation, Inc.
©The Alexander Liberman Trust.
Photograph by Jerry L. Thompson.

Today, the property shelters everything from the nearly 70 foot Endless Column to kinetic pieces that move with the wind, and it gives life to them all. John Stern, President and grandson of the founder says, “You are seeing the dialogue between nature, landscape, and art.”  That backdrop acts as host to some of the most acclaimed artists of our time: Alexander Calder, Sol Lewitt, Claus Odenberg, Mark di Suvero, Alexander Liberman, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, Andy Goldsworthy, and two of my favorites, Maya Lin (whose undulating waves grace the soft hills) and Louise Nevelson (whose all-black painted steel sculpture welcome visitors to the main building).

Among the most recent special exhibition pieces are Dennis Oppenheim’s quirky sculptures including Entrance to a Garden, his playful homage to a men’s blue dress shirt, complete with benches shaped like buttons and cuffs; and Josephine Halvorson’s giant and quirky rulers, which appear to be measuring the landscape.

Storm King Art Center

Josephine Halvorson, Measure, acrylic on wood, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
Photograph by Jeffry Sturges.

The “siting” of these works – the placement within the landscape – is just as important as the art itself. This is not a museum with white walls and confined choices. Out of doors, the thinking is different. Each piece must have its own space and its own relationship to the landscape. It’s a process that includes looking at the art from close up and afar, from side to side, and projecting how it will look from season to season.  As Stern so beautifully puts it, “This is not plop art.”

But it is art for all –in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable, and because nature is an every-changing force, so is Storm King.

Storm King is open through November.

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