day at the grounds for sculpture - part 1

the mighty men

'...Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.' 
Genesis 6:4


Grounds For Sculpture is a public garden  of contemporary outdoor sculptures  situated on the forty two exquisitely landscaped acres. It was founded in 1992 by a widely recognized American sculptor, John Seward Johnson. At the time of my visit the garden featured a lifetime collection of Johnson's works - 'Seward Johnson: The Retrospective'.

Johnson is best known for his painted bronze statues some of them of monumental proportions. In many cases the statues look like 3-dimensional imitations of the iconic 2-dimensional images.  Johnson's implementation of this postmodern style is highly artistic. However, it moves classically trained viewers out of their comfort zone; it was labeled an "Americana kitsch" by art purists but was a success with audiences. 

The funny thing is that the Western sculpting tradition was strongly  influenced by Greek Classical and Hellenistic statues and their Roman copies. These statues unearthed during Renaissance period showed the bare surface of the material of which they were made. Since then the bare surface was considered the hallmark of artistic sculptures. Ironically, it was discovered recently that original Greek statues were brightly painted, but after thousands of years, those paints have worn away. In light of this discovery, the Johnson's works look purely traditionalistic in the true sense of the word. 


"A Turn of the Century" (Inspired by Renoir's "Dance at Bougival")

"King Lear"

"Unconditional Surrender" (Inspired by two iconic photographs  'V–J day in Times Square' )

"Confrontational Vulnerability" (Inspired by Manet's 'Olympia')

 "Forever Marilyn" (Inspired by a scene from the movie 'The Seven Year Itch')