The exhibition Andy Goldsworthy: Snow is on view at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, in Lincoln, Mass., now through December 31, 2011. This spring, deCordova announced it had approved a proposal from the internationally renowned sculptor Andy Goldsworthy for a commissioned work called Snow House.
DeCordova has organized the exhibition Andy Goldsworthy: Snow in order to raise awareness and the funding necessary to bring the proposed work to fruition. The exhibition will include snow-related works by the artist (photographs, video, drawings), research about ice harvesting in New England, as well as his proposal drawings for Snow House.
In 2009, deCordova changed its name to deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum to emphasize its renewed focus on sculpture. Major fundraising efforts to support this new vision were launched and have been helped by the establishment of the Hamilton R. James Sculpture Park Acquisition Fund. This $1,000,000 challenge grant is aimed at encouraging others to support deCordova’s goal of bringing important new works by internationally recognized artists to the Park. In March 2010 deCordova acquired its first work by an international sculptor, Antony Gormley’s Reflection II, displayed in the
Museum’s front entrance. This summer, deCordova will install the recently acquired post-industrial glass-and-steel outdoor pavilion by conceptual artist Dan Graham, Crazy Spheroid – Two Entrances.
The acquisition of Snow House would qualify deCordova as the only institution in New England to have a major site-specific outdoor installation by Andy Goldsworthy, advancing deCordova’s goal to become one of the nation’s premier sculpture parks by 2020. Goldsworthy is best known in the United States for his permanently installed works at the Storm King Art Center (Storm King Wall, 1997-98) and at the National Gallery of Art, (Roof, 2003-2005).
“To work with Andy Goldsworthy, one of the world’s most beloved sculptors, is a transformative opportunity for deCordova,” says Director Dennis Kois. “Not only would Snow House secure deCordova’s place as a leader in sculpture, but it would also give a unique gift to the community at large: the possibility of experiencing this landmark project for generations to come. We look forward to working with our friends and supporters—old and new —to bring this project to life.”
British artist Andy Goldsworthy is perhaps the most widely recognized sculptor working today. Since the late 1970s, he has created visually and emotionally arresting works of art made almost exclusively with natural materials—sticks, leaves, flowers, trees, rain, snow, ice, mud, pebbles, boulders, etc. —often ephemeral, sometimes permanent. His work in sculpture, installation, photography, drawing, video, and performance is an ongoing dialogue with nature, landscape, time, history, ritual, and labor.
In 2009, deCordova invited Goldsworthy to propose a permanent outdoor installation. On a cold winter’s day in 2010, the artist spent several hours exploring the snow and icecovered 35-acre landscape of the Sculpture Park. Shortly thereafter, inspired by the site, the New England climate, and the relationship between the land and the frozen waters of adjacent Flint’s Pond, he submitted drawings and a description for an idea that he calls Snow House.
Goldsworthy proposes to create a stacked granite architectural structure, set deeply into the pond-side slope, based on the design principles of pre-industrial ice houses. Before refrigeration, ice was cut from frozen ponds in winter and densely stacked in these buildings, where it would be preserved for use during the summer months. Instead of ice, Goldsworthy plans to fill the Snow House with a single snowball, approximately 9 feet in diameter. Each winter, after the first significant snowfall, Museum staff and local community groups will create the snowball within the Snow House, where it will remain enclosed until summer, when the chamber will be opened to reveal a physical reminder of winter. The snowball will slowly melt over a week to ten day period, and the Snow House will then remain open until the following winter. According to the artist, “the work is not an object, but a container—a forum for change, memory, replenishment, season—in which the construction and care of the object, along with its interaction with people, are integral to the work.”
Snow House merges Goldsworthy’s profound explorations of the ephemeral and the permanent, and includes an ongoing performance aspect that marks the seasons in perpetuity. This project is also new and unique for Goldsworthy: while he has frequently worked with both snow and aspects of ancient architecture (walls, arches, cairns, sheepfolds, barns), Snow House is the first project to combine the two so integrally and directly.
“Both deCordova and Andy Goldsworthy are particularly excited about Snow House because the project will significantly expand the artist’s aesthetic practice,” says Nick Capasso, deCordova’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs. “Never before has this artist entrusted crucial ongoing aspects of a project to an institution. This is an artwork that must be tended, annually, in perpetuity. Each winter deCordova will ensure, and document, the creation of a colossal snowball, and celebrate its magical reemergence each summer. Only by partnering so closely with a committed venue can Goldsworthy so
profoundly and simultaneously mark seasonal, historical, and experiential time. Snow House will become one of the artist’s most important works with snow.” Goldsworthy’s greatest snow projects to date include Touching North (four huge upright circles of snow blocks created at the North Pole in April, 1989), and Midsummer Snowballs (the mysterious placement and melting of 13 giant snowballs on the streets of London before dawn on June 21, 2000).
Snow House also engages both the topography of the Sculpture Park, as well as its historical site. While the artist was initially inspired by the ice houses built on country estates in Britain, ice houses were also ubiquitous in New England. Well into the 20th century, farmers cut ice from their ponds (including Flint’s Pond), and in the early 19th century, the harvesting and export of ice was vital to the region’s economy. Ice cut from Walden Pond in Concord and Fresh Pond in Cambridge (the latter named for the quality of its ice) was shipped as far away as India.
Andy Goldsworthy: Snow
To publicly announce the Snow House proposal, and to provide context for this new
work, deCordova will organize and present the indoor gallery exhibition Andy
Goldsworthy: Snow May 28–December 31, 2011. This exhibition will include the
original proposal drawings for Snow House, Goldsworthy’s video artwork Snow Shadow
Fold, two large-scale Snowball Drawings, several of the artist’s own photographs of
related snow projects, multi-media educational materials about the artist, the historical
relevance of Snow House, and repeated showings of the award-winning documentary on
Andy Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides. This exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color
brochure with an essay discussing both the proposal and the artist’s ongoing engagement
with snow, and multi-media educational materials about the history of ice harvesting in
Andy Goldsworthy: Snow is organized by deCordova’s Deputy Director for Curatorial
Affairs, Nick Capasso, and has been partially funded by a generous grant from the Lois
and Richard England Family Foundation. Additional support provided by media partner
WGBH. All works are © Andy Goldsworthy and Galerie Lelong, New York, NY.