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Storm King Art Center

Dennis Oppenheim
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Excerpt from Storm King Art Center:

Dennis Oppenheim: Terrestrial Studio
May 14 through November 13, 2016

Dennis Oppenheim: Terrestrial Studio will include work by Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011) from different points in his diverse and substantial career. A fiercely creative artist, his career cannot be encompassed within the boundaries of any single movement or style. The exhibition at Storm King is focused on works that are in a continuous dialogue with the natural world and artificial or built environment. The title, Terrestrial Studio, is a term Oppenheim used to describe his artistic relationship with outdoor space. As this exhibition demonstrates, he introduced earth materials, his body, memory, sound, film, and performance into his work. First rising to prominence for earthworks in the late 1960s, Oppenheim ventured outdoors not only to transcend the physical confines of the exhibition space, but also to work beyond the limitations of the gallery setting.“We are proud to host the first monographic museum exhibition of Dennis Oppenheim’s work to be held in the United States since 2007. Oppenheim was a brilliant and prolific artist who enjoyed making works in outdoor spaces, and he continues to inspire a younger generation,” explains Storm King President, John Stern.

The Oppenheim exhibition will be installed in several locations across Storm King’s landscape including the South Fields, Meadows, and Museum Hill.

On top of Museum Hill, the work Entrance to a Garden (2004) will be installed. It is comprised of both a perforated metal sculpture that takes the form of a large, blue men’s dress shirt and tie with an arched entryway, and a hedge-rimmed garden in the shape of the dress shirt—an imagined shadow of the sculpture. Although Oppenheim conceived the garden and has displayed the shirt, the work has never before been executed with its full shadow configuration. After visitors pass through the arched entryway, benches in the form of buttons and cuffs will be available as seating.

At a central location on Storm King’s grounds will be Dead Furrow, a large earthwork that Oppenheim designed in 1967 in both indoor and outdoor versions, but showed only as the indoor, gallery-sized version. Dead Furrow was conceived as a “structure for viewing land.” The Storm King execution will follow the artist’s proposed enlargement for outdoors, which allows visitors to enter a central “viewing platform” of the work—becoming part of the artwork as they experience Storm King’s landscape. The installation will be the first full scale, outdoor realization of Dead Furrow. The geometric, concrete structure will be surrounded by parallel lengths of colored industrial pipe, simulating the double furrows in an endless field.

The expansive field is contrasted with the infinite sky in a second work from 1977, Wishing the Mountains Madness. In this work, star units are randomly distributed across four acres, bringing constellations to the earth while inverting the sky and ground. Photographs shown in the Museum Building, invite visitors to experience the work in a two-dimensional form as well.

In the North Woods, Storm King’s own Architectural Cactus #6 (2009) will be joined by Architectural Cactus #1 through Architectural Cactus #5 to create the colorful and whimsical Cactus Grove. In various locations on Storm King’s property, Oppenheim’s Alternative Landscape Components (2006) — welded steel and acrylic rocks, shrubs and trees with foliage of cut industrial and common household items — will be sited nearby their real-world counterparts. Preliminary drawings for this extensive series will be shown in the Museum Building.

Entering the Museum Building, at the threshold of indoor and outdoor spaces, the artist’s footsteps, recorded as A Sound Enclosed Land Area (1967), will be audible upstairs, the sounds of bees swarm in the work Beehive Volcano (1979). And lastly, filmic documentations of performance work including Star Exchange (1970) and Toward Becoming a Scarecrow (1971), explore how for this artist, the natural world can contain marks of relationships and personal histories.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a dedicated website and a fully illustrated publication.


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Additional Information:

Images: Dennis Oppenheim. Entrance Piece, 2002

Dennis Oppenheim Estate

Dennis Oppenheim - Storm King Art Center


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Dennis Oppenheim, American, (1938-2011)
b. September 6, 1938, Electric City, WA
d. 2011


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