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Historic New Sculpture Garden At Art Museum

Nagare Masayuki, Japanese, born 1923; Confluence, 1964-65; black granite; Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Howard F. Baer in honor of his wife, Isabel Baer; © Nagare Masayuki 16:1964. (click for larger version)
June 30, 2015
The new Grace Taylor Broughton Sculpture Garden at the Saint Louis Art Museum showcases sculpture in a redesigned landscape that embraces the surrounding forest. A design team that also included architects and engineers transformed what was once an asphalt parking lot into green spaces that form prosceniums for elegant stagings of art.

The museum's new landscape plan, by Paris-based landscape designer Michel Desvigne, collages the organic shapes of nature with the geometric forms of architect David Chipperfield's new East Building, which opened in 2013. Cass Gilbert's Palace of Fine Arts remains Saint Louis Art Museum's enduring architecture from the international World's Fair of 1904. The new landscaping dialogues with the architectural elements of these two museum buildings, as Desvigne's design joins with that of Gilbert and Chipperfield, to complete the museum's expansion and surroundings.

Both the contemporary wing and the new sculpture garden extend the possibilities for public display of the museum's collection. Several of the sculptures had been on loan, as ambassadors of the museum, to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the municipalities of Clayton and Chesterfield, and various other locations all over town.

One can only imagine the sight, as sculptural works were transported along city streets to the museum and then installed — each one lowered, oh so carefully, by huge cranes onto the plinth in the center of a grid of trees. These form what Desvigne calls "open rooms" for viewing. "Landscape furniture" provides for rest or contemplation, as well as future museum programs. As visitors move farther from the museum, the plantings become gradually less geometrical, with the formal garden transitioning into the surrounding natural landscape.

Simon Kelly, curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Saint Louis Art Museum, masterly placed the sculptural works in an internationally-themed garden. His composition attains a brilliant bond of architecture and nature.

Above: Aristide Maillol, French, 1861-1944; The Mountain, 1937; lead; Saint Louis Art Museum, funds given by Mr. and Mrs. Sydney M. Shoenberg and Mr. and Mrs. Sydney M. Shoenberg Jr., by exchange 233:1980. (click for larger version)
Visible from the museum's Sculpture Hall is Mountain, a strong work by French classical sculptor Aristide Maillol, which connects nude and nature on a monumental scale. The mountain-like left leg and solidity of the entire piece is relieved by the artist's indication of wind blowing through the figure's hair.

Henry Moore, the great British artist, breaks apart the human figure, separating the upper and the lower torsos in both sculptures, Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 1 and Two Piece Reclining Figure, No. 2, abstracted to form nature landscapes. The bold shapes and surfaces contrast with the elegant lines of the Chipperfield building.

Confluence, a signature bowl shape by well-known Japanese sculptor Nagare Masayuki, is a massive 3,600-pound curve that collects water and evokes memories of the junction of Missouri's two great rivers.

French artist Jacques Lipchitz' geometric and abstract figure, The Bather, balances form and negative space, while exploring the relationship of sculpture, architecture and landscape. And French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is represented in the center of the sculpture garden by "Venus Victorious," evoking great themes of Impressionism – light, wind, water and sky.

Left: Jacques Lipchitz, French (born Lithuania), 1891-1973; The Bather, 1923-25; Saint Louis Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Morton D. May; © Estate of Jacques Lipchitz 147:1957. (click for larger version)
The powerful musculature of Hercules and the Hydra, by German artist Mathias Gasteiger, fleshes out the garden's international flavor with a classic Greek treatment of body and nature.

The garden complements other works already installed outside the museum, including Andy Goldsworthy's Stone Sea and Claes Oldenburg's Giant Three-Way Plug, Scale A.

The new sculpture garden is a gift from Barbara B. Taylor and Andrew C. Taylor, and is named in honor of their granddaughter, Grace Taylor Broughton.

Saint Louis

Art Museum

Grace Taylor Broughton Sculpture Garden. Opened

June 26, 2015.

More information,

721-0072, or visit slam.org.
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