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

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

untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989–90)

Joel Shapiro, American, born 1941

21 ft. (640.08 cm)
Bronze

 

Despite its minimalistic abstraction, the very human positioning and proportions of this untitled work evoke an undeniable figural reference. In this sculpture, Joel Shapiro reduces the body to the most basic representation of its structure, communicated through an industrial geometry of building blocks. These elements are fused together in unpredictable and expressive angles to become one unified, active being, with a lifelike twisting movement spiraling throughout the entire form.

Fabricated on a monumental scale and raised several feet off the ground, the mass of metal is poised above the passageway through the Maffei Arts Plaza, threatening to fall on top of the people passing underneath it at any moment. Understood as a figure, it plays out the relatable experience of the body falling backward as it struggles to remain balanced.

Frozen at a dynamic diagonal, midway between verticality and horizontality, this form is bursting with potential energy in its powerful implied movement, intensified by the sense of the immense mass of heavy bronze suspended at such a precarious angle. This energizes the entire open space it occupies, engaging not just the ground but also the surrounding architectural walls and passing viewers in its balancing act. 

 

For Comparison: Joel Shapiro & Alexander Calder

 


 

Video of Joel Shapiro's untitled (Hood Museum of Art) (1989–90) in the Maffei Arts Plaza, opposite Ellsworth Kelly's Dartmouth Panels (2012). The sculpture was moved to this location to accommodate work on the Hood's expansion. 

 

Video by the Media Production Group at Dartmouth