What art have I seen? Köln Skulpturen Park

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on September 1, 2022

Köln Skulpturen Park makes evident several key moves used by sculptors creating outdoor works

  • Fairy tales – two of the pieces added to the collection recently (video here) evoke traditions and archetypes Mary Bauermeister’s arrangement of tree stump seats into a space for a different way of spending time in nature and Guan Xaio’s Old Eggs and the Catcher which seems to allude to folk stories
  • Repurposing – Dane Mitchell’s Post Hoc, two fir tree mobile phone masts, take a piece of infrastructure and repurpose it to tell a different story, in this case of loss.
  • Buildings – the focal point of the park is Suo Fujimoto‘s white concrete structure. The ‘building’ surrounds a tree. The act of looking in and looking out both create frames with which to appreciate the leafy environment. Of course, much like the Farnsworth House, you need a certain level of privilege to appreciate the views without being concerned about the functionality of the building.

Mies van der Röhe said

When one looks at Nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it takes on a deeper significance than when one stands outside. More of Nature is thus expressed – it becomes part of a greater whole.

Fujimoto’s piece is the sculptural version, framing and organising nature. It even has works installed in and on it.

Lois Weinberger‘s intervention made a few years ago is one of the more radical ‘pieces’. Very much in contrast with the formality of much of the work (di Suvero, even Fischli and Weiss), his trench, in reality a bulldozer driven in a straight line for 100m cutting through paths and leaving spoil heap at the end of the line, offers a different aesthetic. Related to Robert Smithson’s various experiments with entropic processes, and with Gordon Matta-Clark’s cuts, but this is negentropic – it is focused by emergence, its aesthetic is what happens when we stop controlling nature. Its counterpoint is Karin Sander‘s piece of plastic grass inserted into the equally managed grass.

The curatorial approach is in some respects more radical than some of the artists’ works. As I understand it each new exhibition, comprising some temporary works and some new permanent installations, is focused by a previous work. This year’s exhibition refers back to the Weinberger’s piece. This iterative accumulative approach forms a nice counterpoint to novelty as a curatorial approach.

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Sculpture Parks and Gardens

Posted in CF Writing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on August 14, 2009

International Directory of Sculpture Parks and Gardens

New resource developed out of Cameron Cartiere’s research.  The section on Scotland includes Galloway Forest, Glenkilns, Jupiter Artland, Little Sparta and Tyrebagger.  No reference to those that are gone, including Cramond and Glenshee.

The category Sculpture Parks and Gardens raises a few conceptual challenges and complexities.  Because ‘public art’ is associated with regeneration and the creative city, it has gain far more bureaucratic currency and also funding.  Is a group of work by a number of artists in the landscape a public art project or a sculpture park?  Is a landscape made by artists a sculpture park?

So some other possible inclusions:

Place of Origin though I’d say its a park as sculpture rather than a sculpture park? see essay in writing.
Place of Origin

Yet to be completed is Arthur Watson’s Reading the Landscape, a collaborative scheme developed with Will MacLean, Lei Cox, Stanley Robertson and others for CairnGorm Mountain.  All the works are intended to contributing to a cultural understanding of the landscape as lived in and used.
CairnGorm Mountain Ltd,
Cairn Gorm Ski Area,
PH22 1RB
tel: +44 (0)1479 861261,

I was very pleased to see Glenkilns included, but I wondered why Charles Jencks and Maggie Keswick’s Gardens at Portrack House, Dumfries were not included?  Best reference I can suggest is It’s only open once a year for Scotland’s Gardens Scheme, usually first weekend in May.
Portrack House

And you cannot leave out the Hidden Gardens behind the Tramway as a new and award winning ‘art garden.’  The Hidden Gardens are a project of NVA, and are a focus for intercultural dialogue and shared experiences.  Very much driven by community focused activities in a brilliant space.
The Hidden Gardens
25 Albert Drive
Glasgow G41 2PE
0141 433 2722

There is a group of works by Ronald Rae in the grounds of Roselle House/the Maclaurin Trust in Ayr.  I understand that they were made as part of a Manpower Services project in 1979
Roselle House Galleries
Roselle Park
Monument Road
Ayr KA7 4NQ

Finally the Scottish Sculpture Workshop in Aberdeenshire has a Sculpture Walk
AB54 4JN
01464 861372

See also thoughts on Sculpture Parks after visiting Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière.

What art have I seen?

Posted in CF Writing, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 24, 2008

Centre international d’art et du paysage de l’île de Vassivière

Some images at Flickr
Vassiviere is listed on the ISC‘s web site as one of the few sculpture parks in France. It describes itself variously as ‘a centre for art and nature’, ‘art and the counryside’, and ‘a centre for land art’. It has a few internationally known artists (Goldsworthy, Pistoletto and the Kabakovs) and many French artists; I found a work by Brad Goldberg, who collaborated on Place of Origin, and work by Roland Cognet who had worked at SSW and seems to have had a one person show at Vassiviere,

This place is interesting; having come about as a result of a major hydro-electric scheme, it conceptually raises issues of our relationship to our environment and our tendency to manipulate it in order to extract benefit. It has real character, but it suffers from neither owning its history, nor clearly adressing its apparent mission.

It has a mixed bag of sculptures that make up the park – some the result of a sculpture symposium in the early 80s. More recent and jokey post modern works are also incorporated. The gallery seems to work in partnership with some high profile institutions like the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The building by Aldo Rossi is striking.

But there is a lack of clarity – there are cornerstone international works, but I couldn’t discern a curatorial strategy. Likewise I guess that the works by French artists are significant, but I didn’t get a sense of a collection of work of significant French sculptors (or artists working in three dimensions on an outdoor scale). This would be a good project in itself.

The work by Samakh is a good response to a natural event, but the replanting of an area of forest to promote biodiversity is not radical.

Thinking about the work of Littoral in particular, but also of PLATFORM, and others involved in dialogic practices, there are so many ways in which this amazing place could speak of itself. Funnily enough it is Goldsworthy who draws attention to the drowned land, but for instance the larger ecological landscape is not drawn out.

But as it stands it clearly has a history of being a centre for sculpture during the second half of the 20th century, and is trying to redefine itself. Using the gallery to do this is OK, but in the end it remains in conflict with the permanently sited work which speaks of a previous project.

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