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“Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways”
Smart Museum of Art, Chicago, Illinois
Recommendation by Robin Dluzen

Installation view of “Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways,” 2014 at the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.

Continuing through December 21, 2014

As a part of the Smart Museum of Art’s 40th anniversary programming, every gallery in the museum has been dedicated to a single exhibition of sculpture (and 2D works by sculptors) from the permanent collection. In “Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways,” the genre of “sculpture” is examined broadly, with examples that range from ancient artifacts and religious relics to big-name Modernists and contemporary works from local and global artists. Here, functional objects, architecture, abstraction, assemblage and installation are intermingled to prompt dialogue that traverses amongst media, eras and cultures.

Though curated primarily in loose, chronological groupings — contemporary, modern and ancient — the exhibition truly shines where works are taken out of their historical contexts and placed with others from the broader gamut of art history. A viewer can see an Italian reliquary, a carved wood ancestral figure from Cameroon, a ding vessel from the Zhou Dynasty and a Nick Cave “Soundsuit” all at once, suggesting the ubiquitous intersection of ritual and craftsmanship throughout history. Elsewhere, contemporary, abstract sculptures by Chinese artist Zhan Wang, Korean artist Han Yongjin and American artist Isamu Noguchi are accompanied by a 7th-11th century “Shiva Linga” from Khmer; despite the centuries that separate their making, the works share remarkable similarities in formal simplicity and subtle, masterful handling of surface and material, evidencing the inexhaustible potential for capturing the sublime in the art object.

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