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Mark Di Suvero: Nelly

Lower Park

The strong angles of Nelly contrast with the natural setting of YSP. Often appearing off balance, and thereby creating a dynamic tension, di Suvero’s work lends itself to the idea of it being a ‘drawing in space’. The beams lead the eye into the landscape or towards the sky and throughout the day, Nelly casts changing shadows, sometimes appearing to be an intense orange or deep brown.

Whilst preparing for his first solo exhibition in 1960, di Suvero was seriously injured on a construction site, which left him in a wheelchair for two years. During this time, he used his experience to master the technique that would define his later sculpture, using an arc welder and structural scrap metal to create his evocatively large and geometric forms. As a former member of the Crane Operators' Union, he expresses his admiration for the steel workers who helped build and shape America’s industrial landscape: “We have a great tradition of steel workers, going all the way back to the fabrication of the Brooklyn Bridge”. Today, di Suvero cites the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as a major source of inspiration, noting “I took the techniques of fabrication which I use today from looking at bridges”.

Di Suvero’s use of mass produced elements challenged many of the conventions of modern and contemporary art at that time. This technique, that the artist refers to as ‘sculptural structuralism’, is defined in his sculpture Nelly (1986). 

 

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