The Art of Daniel Chester French Shares Grounds with Contemporary Art
Chesterwood in Stockbridge, MA was the home and workplace of sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850—1931), known for his creative work on the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and other monumental art in the United States. Now Chesterwood is a National Trust historic site, where French’s house, studio, and gardens enrich our understanding of his life and work. In addition to French’s sculptures, an annual exhibit of contemporary sculpture has graced the grounds for more than three decades.
This year was my first visit to Chesterwood, and I hope to go again next year. I was impressed by French’s historic sculpture but also by the contemporary sculptures placed throughout the woods and gardens. Some of the art installations were designed to last for only the few months of the exhibit, while other pieces might move on to other sites. Those artists who do return next year will exhibit different work. Unlike French’s enduring statues, the contemporary exhibit is bound by temporary features.
As I wandered the paths and tracked down the work of the twenty-six participating artists, I took photos and read labels. The verbal and visual information is available on the Chesterwood site and more complete than anything I might post. Photos and artist information are in the link below.
I appreciated the artists’ statements or stories about their particular work in the exhibit. The words of one artist, Geoff Nelson definitely resonated for me. The several photos I took while approaching, circling, and hovering might suggest how his sculpture drew me in. A video would have been more effective, but I didn’t think of that in time.
Nelson’s installation The Sky is the Limit is composed of seven blue steel globes, each blocked in by four slabs of stone. This work plays with the contradictions of that phrase.