Haven’t we seen enough of monumental sculpture? Didn't we burn out on rusted I-beams and brown slabs of steel long ago? Apparently not. The recent single-sculpture installation by Mark di Suvero at Gagosian's downtown space indicates that perhaps the medium is only beginning to be explored.
Di Suvero’s 8 tons of metal in this case 18-inch H-beams and one-inch thick hand-cut steel-is surprisingly simple in format: a K-shape intersects a triangle that is also intersected by a pair of bisecting hemispherical circles. It is 26 feet at its longest point, and its diagonals stopped short of pushing through the 20-foot-high ceiling of the sky lit gallery.
The viewer is drawn in by the way the sculptor appears completely different from every angle and by its contradictions: a sense of weightlessness despite obvious tonnage, and a harmonic balance amid asymmetry. In the past, di Suvero's ideas seemed to spring directly from the materials, from the found objects and metals he used. In this, his most recent piece, there’s a new logic and coherence as his shapes - simplified and therefore more universal - take on mysterious, symbolic references.
Titled Aurora, the construction simultaneously suggests both space and spaceship – or maybe, with its gritty, rusted surface and knobby screw heads, an artifact dredged from the oceans of Atlantis. It looks entirely new while evoking memories of Cubism and Russian Constructivism in its skillful manipulation of space. That di Suvero’s simple forms can suggest so much indicates that despite the prevailing atmosphere of relentless agitprop, formal concerns – even art for art’s sake – may have a place in our culture after all.