Thoreau and Walden Pond re-imagined in 'Walden, revisited' exhibition at deCordova Museum

  • LINCOLN, Massachusetts
  • /
  • September 05, 2014

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Page from Henry David Throeau's Walden, 1854.

DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, in Lincoln, Mass., will present Walden, revisited, an exhibition highlighting works by contemporary artists who explore the deep influences of author Henry David Thoreau on art-making today. The exhibition opens on October 31, 2014, and will be on view in the galleries through April 26, 2015.

Walden, revisited features over 45 works by current-day artists inspired by Walden: the pond; the book published in 1854 by natural history philosopher, social critic, and early environmentalist Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862); and the connection and disconnection between the two.  In 1845, Thoreau embarked on a now-legendary two-year, two-month, and two-day venture into the Concord woods to write and live “Spartan-like.” He immortalized his experiment in Walden; or Life in the Woods, which extols the virtues of a life simplified to “only the essential facts,” spent in a self-built, one-room cabin near the shores of Walden Pond. Located in Lincoln, Massachusetts, just two miles from the pond, deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is uniquely situated, both physically and programmatically, to explore Walden’s profound influence on the current state of art-making. 

Today, 160 years after its first publication, Walden is firmly ensconced in the canon of great American literature. It remains the foundational text for American nature writing, and its message of living simply, economically, and intentionally has resonated throughout subsequent generations. In the wake of the Great Recession and the growing urgency of climate change, Walden emerges again, in the twenty-first century, as a home-grown American handbook dedicated to self-reliance and a life lived with, rather than against, nature.

These same themes loom large as contemporary artists rethink their relationship to society, the environment, and the role of art within culture. Walden, revisited brings fifteen artists andcollectives to deCordova to contemplate and review the less explored legacies of Thoreau’s great American narrative through contemporary art practices.

Walden, revisited features sculpture, installation, performance, painting, drawing, and video,alongside new commissions. Artists include James Benning, David Brooks, William Cordova,Spencer Finch, Futurefarmers, William Lamson, Ana María Gómez López and Pamela Jordan, Jane D. Marsching, Michael Mercil, Oscar Palacio, Gina Siepel, Lisa Sigal, Jennifer Sullivan, Deb Todd Wheeler, and Hilary Wilder.

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