National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden

House I, 1996/1998, Roy Lichtenstein, fabricated and painted aluminum.

Since Washington's been in the news a little bit lately, it's as good a time as any to show off some of the garden sculptures we saw when we were visiting last spring. We're planning on another trip to Washington in April this year and will have more time to get out and about and see more than just the area around the Mall. Although you could spend a week there and not see everything.

Here's a quick romp through the 6.1-acre National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. It contains native American species of trees, flowering trees, shrubs, ground covers and perennials. It has a fountain, used for skating in winter, and walking and seating areas. Everything's free–except the cafe.

Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, 1999, Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, stainless steel and cement.

Would current school kids even have the faintest notion of what a typewriter eraser looks like? My daughter had no clue. I suppose if you're 35 or older you'd "get" it.

Thinker on a Rock, 1997, Barry Flanagan, cast bronze.

I'm trying to keep rabbits OUT of my garden. Beats a gnome though.

Stele II, 1973, Ellsworth Kelly, one-inch weathering steel.

This is supposedly loosely based on a French kilometer marker. They have big kilometers over there.

Cluster of Four Cubes, 1992, George Rickey, stainless steel.

A cubist's tree? This is a kinetic sculpture. It moves.

Untitled, 1989, Joel Shapiro, bronze.

Sort of reminds me a a gardener, inelegantly, tripping over something, headfirst.

Chair Transformation Number 20B, 1996, Lucas Samaras, patinated bronze.

Depending on what angle these are viewed from, they look angled, leaning back or springing forward. Makes me think of what Escher's dining room chairs might look like.

Six-Part Seating, 1985/1998, Scott Burton, polished granite.

Something functional that could be put to good use in my own garden. Though I don't think I'd want to have to move them too often.

Spider, 1996, cast 1997, Louise Bourgeois, bronze with silver nitrate patina.

We have a sculpture park just south of Buffalo with dozens of outdoor sculptures that I'll get around to posting about at some point. There are many that remind me of this piece there. Might scare kids from coming into the garden. It's got that going for it anyway.

Cheval Rouge (Red Horse), 1974, Alexander Calder, painted sheet metal.

A bit over scale for most gardens I suppose, but none the less dramatic.

Four-Sided Pyramid, 1999, Sol LeWitt, concrete blocks and mortar.

One of my favorites. Looks like an Op Art painting, tricking the eye. A few posts back, I had mentioned creating art from dry-stacking pavers & bricks. If you had a large enough brick budget, and the space to do it, you too could have this in your back yard. Though Sol LeWitt was aided by a team of engineers and stone masons. Maybe you shouldn't try this at home.

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  1. I love sculpture gardens! There's a big spider in front of a museum in Ottawa--wonder if they're done by the same artist? I visited Windsor, Ontario (across river from Detroit) several years ago and loved their riverside sculpture garden--especially the penguins. I posted about it I think, but I don't know if Windsor has a website for the garden or not. Garden whimsy of the most huge and whimsical sizes...

  2. These are fabulous! I think the typewriter eraser is funny -- yes, some of us are old enough to remember using one of those.

    Thanks for sharing,

  3. I like the granite seat also. I have been checking out kinetic sculptures. I have just he right place for one.

  4. jodi,
    I enjoy sculpture gardens immensely too. Sometimes it's not all about the plants.

    Even I hadn't seen many typewriter erasers in my youth. I'm from the white-out generation of typewriter users.

    MN Garden,
    I would love a kinetic piece of art in the garden too. Since buying one is probably out of the question, I'm keeping my eyes open for something I can create myself.

  5. Love that Shapiro! There is a stainless steel tree outside my office, by Roxy Paine. Check it out: It looks good in winter!

  6. In Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park we have a similar typewriter eraser sculpture that you show in your post.

  7. I was there last April and it was wonderful. In fact I did 4 days of garden touring during the Cherry Blossom Festival. I never wanted to leave Dumbarton Oaks, I think it was the most beautiful garden I'd ever seen. Also the national arboretum was almost empty and full of the gorgeous magnolias, cherries and other lovelies. So so much more.

    I just did the "color rejects" blog for Cameron and am in the Buffalo area, near Batavia. I've probably seen your garden on the Buffalo GardenWalk. Hi neighbor!

  8. That's a nice post, Jim. I have seen the garden many times and always am happy to see it again. I'm a big Caulder fan too.

  9. If Griffis had anything 1/1000000th as good as this I might visit more often.

    Great pics of some wonderful artworks!

  10. Benjamin,
    The metal tree does look cool. And it doesn't drop leaves!

    I bet Oldenburg made a few of them at a time. You know to cut down on per unit costs. It's interesting in 1999 that one would choose a classic, but obsolete, icon to create art from.

    We were there in April too. For just a day. I think I saw you! I'll have to add Dumbarten Oaks to our travels there this coming spring. A Batavian? You are close. You've been here for the Walk? Good for you. You may have been in my garden. I am the president of the Walk as well.

    If you're a big Caulder fan - that's a big Caulder to be a fan of.

    I haven't been to Griffis in quite a few years. I like many of the pieces, but seems like there were never new pieces added to the collection or re-siting the pieces to energize the collection. We'll probably get down there this spring.

  11. Wild stuff! I love the spider, especially. Neat post.


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