Currently on view at Kasmin in New York, a series of monolithic sculptures come together to create a new insight into the expression and reflection of scale. The show, Between the Earth and Sky, brings together a series of works from the format of the large-scale, towering sculpture spanning from 900 A.D. to 2019, and demonstrating how various utilizations of stelae, herms, and columns have functioned as repositories of meaning or markers of time and place across many cultures since prehistory, as well as the way in which the expressive possibilities of this format continue to resonate with sculptors working internationally today.
The show spans a wide range of both contemporary and ancient objects, creating a dialogue that spans centuries and countless perspectives from around the world. There are pieces by James Lee Byars, Huma Bhabha, Tom Sachs and Isamu Noguchi on view alongside premodern objects from ancient civilizations across the globe that embrace the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds.
The combination of these varied perspectives, in conjunction with the architectural logic of the space, creates an enigmatic experience of verticality, highlighting both the universality and the diversity of that particular vector in contemporary, modern, and premodern works of art. Rarely is the sense of the vertical so prominently explored, and the show does an engaging job here, turning the works into a grid-like experience of the architecture of the space around it, each structure sitting below a frustum-shaped skylight that allows interactions with the outside world and the original context of monolithic objects in the broader context of history.
As they stand in relation to and contrast with each other, the forms seem to express a timeless and universal language. Embodying exaggerated human dimensions, they speak wordlessly, vessels that lay bare the communicative function of art and its enduring symbolic possibility. And while the works point skyward, Between the Earth and Sky primarily reminds us that this narrow band of habitat—nestled above the brimstone of the earth’s inner crust and the inhospitable pressure of the upper reaches of our atmosphere—plays stage to all human endeavor, whether it be the sacred, profane, momentous, comedic, or absurd.
Be they analogues for the human form, waypoints, sentinels, support structures, memorials or otherwise, their metaphorical and formal potency abides.
The show closes February 27th.
– C. Rhinehardt
Between the Earth and Sky [Exhibition Site]