A variety of outdoor sculpture projects are coming to the NCMA this year, including three works on long-term loan from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
Ellsworth Kelly, Untitled, 1986, stainless steel, H. 78 x W. 135 1/4 x D. 129 3/4 in., Museum Purchase, 1986, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
The Hirshhorn loans are three monumental sculptures by three masters of 20th-century art: Joan Miró, George Rickey, and Ellsworth Kelly. Installed in various sites around West Building—the entrance plaza, the front lawn, and the North Garden—these works animate the NCMA landscape with a diversity of artistic expression.
Ellsworth Kelly's abstract sculpture Untitled is part of his “rocker” series, conceived when the artist took a plastic coffee lid from his local deli, cut out a flat section, folded it in half, and rocked it back and forth on a table. Untitled also plays with depth and dimension, as the rounded edge of the ellipse contrasts with the flatness of the sculpture’s surface.
Joan Miró, Lunar Bird, 1945, cast 1966–67, bronze, H. 89 3/8 X W. 88 1/2 X D. 58 1/4 in., Gift of Joseph H. Hirshhorn, 1972, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Photograph by Lee Stalsworth. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden
Joan Miró's Lunar Bird resembles ancient votive sculptures and reflects the artist’s interest in the cosmos, with its moon-shaped face and arms reaching toward the sky. A figure in the early 20th-century surrealist art movement, Miró saw art as a way for the subconscious mind to express itself.
George Rickey, Three Red Lines, 1966, stainless steel and paint with hydraulic devices, mounting screws, and braces, 444 x 51 1/4 in., Gift of the artist through the Joseph H. Hirshhorn Foundation, 1972, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
Three Red Lines during installation at the NCMA
Recently installed in the Plaza, George Rickey's Three Red Lines is a kinetic sculpture composed of three pointed arms that gracefully move in an arc. Rickey used ball bearings, pendulums, counterweights, and pivot points to predetermine the path the arms of the sculpture would take.
Visitors will also discover the two Henry Moore sculptures in the NCMA’s collection in new locations. Large Standing Figure: Knife Edge has been reinstalled in front of the Linear Pool near the Plaza, and Large Spindle Piece is now out in the Museum Park in the meadow near Mark di Suvero’s monumental No Fuss.
Two more exciting installations to watch for: Heather Hart’s temporary, interactive installation titled Southern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off and a new, permanent commissioned sculpture by Seagrove, N.C.–based artist Daniel Johnston.
Site preparation and installation of Daniel Johnston's Untitled in the Museum Park
Hart’s Southern Oracle is a partially submerged rooftop sculpture with just the roofline peeking out of the ground. Visitors will be able to climb on top of the work and venture inside, and it will be the site of several community gatherings this summer.
Johnston’s untitled installation features 183 hand-built, wood-fired ceramic pillars, varying in height from several inches to over 6 feet, made from Piedmont clay and installed in a straight line that plays against the rolling landscape of the Museum Park.
Heather Hart, Southern Oracle: We Will Tear the Roof Off, 2019, mixed-media sculpture installation, dimensions variable, supported by the Hartfield Foundation and Libby and Lee Buck; Courtesy of the artist