Alexander Calder Mobile (about 1953) Painted sheet aluminum and wire Overall: 18 x 36 in. (45.72 x 91.44 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Partial gift of Nancy and Heinz Valtin in memory of Curt Valentin and partial purchase through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund © Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York S.998.41

Alexander Calder Mobile (about 1953)
Painted sheet aluminum and wire
Overall: 18 x 36 in. (45.72 x 91.44 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Partial gift of Nancy and Heinz Valtin in memory of Curt Valentin and partial purchase through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund
© Calder Foundation, New York / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
S.998.41

Richard Serra Two-Plate Prop (1975-6) Cor-Ten Steel Overall: 48 x 48 x 64 in. (121.9 x 121.9 x 162.6 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein © Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York S.975.97

Richard Serra Two-Plate Prop (1975-6)
Cor-Ten Steel
Overall: 48 x 48 x 64 in. (121.9 x 121.9 x 162.6 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Dorothy and Roy Lichtenstein
© Richard Serra / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
S.975.97

George Rickey Two Horizontal Lines (1966) Stainless steel Overall: 36 in. (91.44 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of the artist Art © Estate of George Rickey / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY S.966.40

George Rickey Two Horizontal Lines (1966)
Stainless steel
Overall: 36 in. (91.44 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of the artist
Art © Estate of George Rickey / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
S.966.40

Joel Shapiro untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989-90) Bronze Overall: 21 ft. (640.08 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through gifts from Kirsten and Peter Bedford, Class of 1989P, Sondra and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Daryl and Steven Roth, Class of 1962; and an anonymous donor; The Lathrop Fellows, including Kristin and Peter Bedford; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Burke, Class of 1944; Mr. and Mrs. Mark Gates, Class of 1959; Jerome Goldstein, Class of 1954; Mr. and Mrs. W. Patrick Gramm, Class of 1952; Mrs. Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924W; Melville Straus, Class of 1960; Frederick Henry, Class of 1967; Mrs. Preston T. Kelsey, Class of 1958W; Mrs. Richard Lombard, Class of 1953W; and an anonymous friend; purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund; Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe, Class of 1964H, by exchange. © Joel Shapiro/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York S.990.40

Joel Shapiro untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989-90)
Bronze
Overall: 21 ft. (640.08 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through gifts from Kirsten and Peter Bedford, Class of 1989P, Sondra and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Daryl and Steven Roth, Class of 1962; and an anonymous donor; The Lathrop Fellows, including Kristin and Peter Bedford; Mr. and Mrs. Walter Burke, Class of 1944; Mr. and Mrs. Mark Gates, Class of 1959; Jerome Goldstein, Class of 1954; Mr. and Mrs. W. Patrick Gramm, Class of 1952; Mrs. Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924W; Melville Straus, Class of 1960; Frederick Henry, Class of 1967; Mrs. Preston T. Kelsey, Class of 1958W; Mrs. Richard Lombard, Class of 1953W; and an anonymous friend; purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund; Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe, Class of 1964H, by exchange.
© Joel Shapiro/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
S.990.40

Sol LeWitt Incomplete Open Cube 8-14, 1974 (1974) Enameled aluminum Overall: 42 x 42 x 42 in. (106.7 x 106.7 x 106.7 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through a gift from Joachim Jean Aberbach and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts © 2017 The LeWitt Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York S.975.8

Sol LeWitt Incomplete Open Cube 8-14, 1974 (1974)
Enameled aluminum
Overall: 42 x 42 x 42 in. (106.7 x 106.7 x 106.7 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through a gift from Joachim Jean Aberbach and a matching grant from the National Endowment for the Arts
© 2017 The LeWitt Estate/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
S.975.8

Ellsworth Kelly Dartmouth Panels (2012) Painted aluminum Panel: 266 x 66 x 4 1/2 in. (675.641 x 167.64 x 11.43 cm) Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Debra and Leon Black, Class of 1973 © Estate of Ellsworth Kelly 2012.35

Ellsworth Kelly Dartmouth Panels (2012)
Painted aluminum
Panel: 266 x 66 x 4 1/2 in. (675.641 x 167.64 x 11.43 cm)
Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Gift of Debra and Leon Black, Class of 1973
© Estate of Ellsworth Kelly
2012.35

 

If we are open to it, the experience of viewing these sculptural and installation works may become an immersive, even meditative process. By offering a space for reflection on the tensions and balance in the relationships of their forms, and between form, space, and self, these works create opportunities for finding balance within.

 

As human beings with a body that teaches us the nature of gravity, contraction, strength, and so on, we gather the experience that enables us to identify with the conditions of other forms.
— Heinrich Wölfflin
 

Being in relationship with the world around us

All of the major modern and contemporary American artists represented in this exhibition invoked the universal language of minimalist geometry, color, line, and composition to explore the power of abstraction throughout their long and overlapping careers. Within that language, each artist developed a unique and iconic personal vocabulary of forms and styles. Each of the works seen here, selected from the Hood Museum of Art’s permanent collection, is similarly emblematic of the artist’s oeuvre and representative of his major contributions to modern abstraction.

The instinctual familiarity of the forms they employ makes all of these works seem deceptively simple, but each offers complex and poetic reflections on perception, forces of nature, and the function of art in the modern world. Through a distilled, abstract aesthetic, they access universal truths about the experience of being human in our physical, natural, and social reality—that is, being in relationship with the world around us.

By using relatable geometry and symbols, the artists draw us into a deeper level of intellectual and physical relationship with the work, each in his way reshaping the process of viewing art from a passive experience to a responsive interaction. For Sol LeWitt, this means engaging our minds and challenging perception through the conceptual structure of Incomplete Open Cube 8-14 (1974). In Ellsworth Kelly’s Dartmouth Panels (2012) installation, the powerful presence of the brilliant color spectrum structures and transforms the entire space around it. Richard Serra’s Two-Plate Prop (1975–76) uses a much more subtle, inner energy to inspire reflection on the immense weight of gravitational force. George Rickey’s Two Horizontal Lines (1966) and Alexander Calder’s Mobile (about 1953) engage responsive motion in revolutionary ways to establish relationships with nature and the observer, while Joel Shapiro captures a psychological state in the implied movement of untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989–90).