Sunday, September 15, 2013

Day 60: Sculpture in St. Louis

The Laumeier Sculpture Park
Citygarden Sculpture Park

We could have moved on today, since we had met our major objective of seeing the city's art museum, but our itinerary needed a little padding to come out right, so we decided to explore the sculpture scene.

Located about ten miles out of St. Louis, the Laumeier Sculpture Park was not at its best today. The museum building was closed, there were no docents, guards or gardeners around, no guest services were available, a few sculptures were in the midst of conservation but no work was being done, the lawn was dry and untended. To add to this, the sculptures were very widely spaced out and the weather was hot and muggy. Dragging my body from sculpture to sculpture—generally trudging up or down hill—was a big chore.

At first it seemed to me that they hardly had anything worthwhile, but in retrospect I see that they had works by several significant sculptors, plus several good works by lesser known artists, and a few duds. Research assures me that the Park is more active and impressive in other seasons.

Niki de Saint Phalle, 1930-2002
Ricardo Cat, 1999

Alexander Liberman, 1912-1999
The Way, 1972-1980

Vito Acconci, b. 1940
Face of the Earth #3, 1988

Robert Chambers, b. 1958
Sugabus, 2004

Oliver Bishop-Young, b. 1986
High Rise, 2012

After a couple of hours of hiking about, we were hot and tired and badly in need of various unavailable guest services, so we looked about for an air-conditioned restaurant. We found a Ruby Tuesday nearby, where we got a decent meal and an hour's respite from the heat.

Then we headed back into town to check out the Citygarden. The last time we were in St. Louis, we had discovered several blocks of gardens extending in front of the City Hall. It is a wonderfully civilized public space with fountains, lush planting, and sculpture, and families were enjoying it. I spent much of my time taking video of ballet classes posing around the sculptures for cell-phone photos by their mothers.

Fountain in Gateway Mall
in front of St. Louis City Hall
with Gateway Arch in the background

Keith Haring, 1958-1990
Untitled (Ringed Figure)

Erwin Wurm, b. 1954
Big Suit

The giant television monitor shows the actions of people standing in front,
but the mothers liked the tiers of sandstone as a place to pose.

After a couple of hours we had a cold drink at the café on the upper terrace. There we were happy to find a second sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle, a celebrated contemporary French artist whose work used to be hard to find.

Niki de Saint Phalle, 1930-2002
Adam and Eve, 1989

We watched the Cardinal fans streaming from Busch Field after their team had won their game against Cincinnati.