How Mark di Suvero’s Infectious, Art-Into-Life Sculptures and Drawings Stimulate the Mind and Body

Internationally renowned sculptor Mark di Suvero has always wanted viewers not to look at, but to engage with his work. Known for his monumental, exuberant sculptures, which grace parks, public plazas, and city centers worldwide, he invites people to touch, climb, and sometimes even to play his works like musical instruments. So much so, that he once managed to loosen the inhibitions of a group of journalists gathered around one of his sculptures to interview him. As the artist recounts: “The journalists … asked me: ‘What are you doing with your work?’ And I told them: ‘I’m creating orgasmic space. You don’t know it until you feel it. So you have to walk inside the piece.’ And the next thing I knew, all of them were climbing inside of the work.”

While visitors to L.A. Louver’s “Mark di Suvero: Sculptures and Drawings” may not be able to climb into the selection of drawings and small-scale sculptures on view in this elegant exhibition, they will be able to experience the infectious, art-into-life energy of his compositions. His mid-scale drawings, of pencil, pen, and black ink on sheets of crisp white paper, form a kind of energetic perimeter around his kinetic sculptures. Full of expressive, calligraphic lines and hurried scribbles, they stand on their own as discreet, abstract compositions, as well as provide insight into di Suvero’s creative process. The drawings are left untitled, encouraging viewers to take them in as a whole. This set-up allows the eyes to range liberally over their jumping, arcing, circling, and swooshing lines—the visual equivalent to thinking out loud.

Translated into three dimensions, these lines become the gestural, roughly cut, abstract shapes and planes out of which works like the two-toned steel Trajectory (2004) and Ring Neste (2003) are composed. Like many of his works, these two have exquisitely, but seemingly precariously, balanced parts. Both also have built-in movement, with their multipart upper portions rotating continuously on the attenuated point of their lower portions, maintaining an improbable equilibrium, a form of poetry in motion by an artist who claims: “I want my work to be poetry.”

Karen Kedmey

Mark di Suvero: Sculptures and Drawings” is on view at L.A. Louver July 9th–August 29th, 2014.