Daniel Arsham: Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene

Daniel Arsham has a particular interest in the passage of time and archaeology, which have influenced his Relics in the Landscape. Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomenetakes the form of an enormous bronze head emerging out of the earth in the Formal Garden. The sculpture references a statue from the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. Dating from 50 BCE, the statue is thought to depict Melpomene, who was the Greek muse of tragedy. Arsham used this figure a starting point for his own sculpture. The head appears as though the rest of the body still lies underground, emerging and waiting to be discovered, or it could be seen as a fragment of a lost sculpture.

Unearthed Bronze Eroded Melpomene is made from bronze and patinated using a green colour associated with classical sculpture. Where the sculpture is partially decayed, Arsham has added crystal shapes cast in stainless steel. These shards of metal reflect the light, drawing attention to the dark areas of ruin and fragmentation. The silver geometric shapes contrast with the waves of Melpomene’s hair and the peaceful expression on her face. The crystal forms allude to growth, progression and the persistence of time.

Discover more about Daniel Arsham's Relics in the Landscape exhibition.