Sarah Sze's monumental "Timekeeper" installation opens at Rose Art Museum

  • WALTHAM, Massachusetts
  • /
  • September 10, 2016

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Sarah Sze, Timekeeper, 2016. Mixed media, mirrors, wood, stainless steel, archival pigment prints, projectors, lamps, desks, stools, stone​. ​Dimensions Variable. Photo by Sarah Sze Studio, courtesy of Sarah Sze.
Rose Art Museum

The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University presents two new site-specific installations by Sarah Sze: Timekeeper (September 11 – December 11), a monumental work created for the Rose’s Foster Gallery, and Blue Wall Moulting (September 11 – June 11), a mural sited on the outward-facing wall of the Foster Stair. An opening reception will be held Saturday, September 10, 2015 from 5-8 PM.   

For over 20 years, Sarah Sze (b. 1969, Boston) has produced works of art that synthesize a near boundless range of materials into objects imbued with the sensory experience of contemporary life. Sometimes delicate and diminutive, other times sprawling and sublime, her works embody what has become known as the post-medium condition. Never strictly painting, sculpture, video, drawing, or installation, and frequently all of the above, Sze’s objects both mime and critique the constant swell of information and imagery that constitutes the average person’s encounter with the modern world. As a consequence, her works have about them a beguiling irony, reproducing the familiar sensation of information overload through assemblages of elements that are, conversely, otherworldly. Like the scientific instruments of measurement they often reference, Sze's sculptures attempt to quantify and organize the universe, ascribing a fragile, personal system of order. Within her practice, sculpture becomes both a device for organizing and dismantling information and a mechanism to locate and dislocate oneself in time and space.         

Her latest installation–Timekeeper, the sculpture that is the central component of Sze’s exhibition–blurs the line between organic and mechanical structure, its lifecycle marked by clicking and whirring and flickering images. It keeps a form of eccentric time that is entirely its own, remembering moments over and over again as time slips by. In this sense, Timekeeper has no relationship to the mechanical devices we use to mark the literal passing of time, but instead to the way we recall and replay our lives, in selected fragments that, strung together, account for the passage of years. 

A related work, Blue Wall Moulting, traces the structural elements behind the wall of the Foster Stair. Created with a basic chalk snap-line technique, which mimics the process used in building construction, the drawing follows the hidden architecture of the space, drawing attention both to the surface and to what lies behind.

Curated by Christopher Bedford, Adjunct Professor of the Practice in Fine Arts at Brandeis University, the exhibition is made possible in part through support from the Henry and Lois Foster Fund and the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation.  




Sarah Sze's work attempts to navigate and model the ceaseless proliferation of information and objects in contemporary life. Incorporating elements of painting, architecture, and installation within her sculpture, Sze investigates the value we place on objects and explores how objects ascribe meaning to the places and times we inhabit.

The artist employs a constellation of everyday materials in her work, ranging from found objects and photographs to handmade sculptures and living plants, creating encyclopedic and accumulative landscapes that penetrate walls and stretch across museums. Her work often relates to the architecture of the space in which it is installed. Sze sees sculpture as evidence of behavior and she leaves her own raw process of experimentation apparent in her work.  As a result, her pieces often seem to hover in a transitional state, as if caught between growing and dying.  Captured in this suspension, the works become self-perpetuating systems, seemingly capable of aspiration, decay, and renewal. 

Born in Boston in 1969, Sze presently lives and works in New York. She received a BA from Yale University in Connecticut in 1991 and an MFA from New York’s School of Visual Arts in 1997. She is a 2003 MacArthur Fellow.

In 2013, Sze represented the United States at the 55th Venice Biennale with a solo pavilion presentation entitled Triple Point. Other important solo exhibitions include Bronx Museum of the Arts in New York (2014), Asia Society in New York (2011-12), Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle, UK (2009), Malmo Konsthall in Sweden (2006), Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2003), Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (2002), Walker Art Center in Minneapolis (2002), Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago (1999), Foundation Cartier in Paris (1999), and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London (1998). She has conceived major public commissions at New York City’s High Line Park (2011-12), the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in New York City, organized by the Public Art Fund (2006), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (2004).

Sze’s sculptures, installations and works on paper have also been exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, as part of the 1999 Carnegie International.

Her work is well represented in important private and public collections worldwide, including those of New York’s Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, the New Museum, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, along with the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 21st Century Museum of Art in Kanazawa, Japan, Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Cartier Foundation in Paris, Baltimore Museum of Art, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art.




Founded in 1961, the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University is among the nation’s premier university museums dedicated to collecting, preserving, exhibiting, and interpreting 20th and 21st century art. A center of cultural and intellectual life on campus, the Museum serves as a catalyst for artistic expression, a living textbook for object-based learning, and a site for scholarly innovation and the production of new knowledge through art. American painting of the post-war period and contemporary art are particularly well represented within the Rose’s permanent collection, which is now more than 8,000 objects strong.  


Major paintings by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Helen Frankenthaler, and Andy Warhol anchor the collection, and recently acquired works by Mark Bradford, Al Loving, Jack Whitten, and Charline von Heyl build upon this strength while reflecting the Museum’s commitment to works of both artistic importance and social relevance. Through its collection, exhibitions, and programs, the Rose works to affirm and advance the values of global diversity, freedom of expression, and social justice that are hallmarks of Brandeis University.


Located on Brandeis University’s campus at 415 South Street, Waltham, MA, the museum is free and open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 11 AM – 5 PM.


For more information, visit or call 781-736-3434. 


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Nina J Berger
Rose Art Museum

Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University
415 South Street
Waltham, Massachusetts
About Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University

The Rose Art Museum at Brandeis is among the premier university museums of modern and contemporary art in the country. Through its distinguished collection of mid-20th through 21st-century art, cutting-edge exhibitions and dynamic programs, visitors can experience the art, artists and ideas of our time.

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