Williamstown, MA—Contemporary artist Thomas Schütte’s first full-scale architectural art installation in the United States, Thomas Schütte: Crystal, opened at the Clark Art Institute on June 14, 2015. Schütte arrived at the unusual asymmetrical shape of Crystal, which was conceived specifically for its location on the Clark’s Stone Hill trails, by imagining a small piece of crystal scaled up to architectural proportions.
“It’s thrilling that one of the most recognized artists working today has chosen the Clark as the site for his first architectural installation in the United States,” said Michael Conforti, the Felda and Dena Hardymon Director of the Clark. “The views from Stone Hill have attracted hikers and Clark visitors since the our opening sixty years ago and now these views can be experienced from inside the fascinating irregular space that Schütte has designed.”
The structure’s interior is clad in wood, referencing the traditional materials of rural vernacular architecture; the outside is zinc-coated copper, a modern material representing contemporary means and methods. Crystal is located on a meadow near the top of Stone Hill, close to the woodland’s edge. Visitors enter the structure through doors on the northwest side; the southeast side of the structure is open and frames a view of cherry and ash trees and the Hoosac mountain range behind them.
Crystal provides visitors the opportunity to reflect on how landscapes and places, including the Clark’s campus, are constructed and preserved. The work’s unusual design does not clearly communicate its purpose, allowing visitors to construct their own meanings and functions for the structure and site.
“Schütte’s work is a persistent engagement with artistic forms that have been historicized and inherited. Through critical wit and formal invention, his sculptures of imagined persons have given new life to depictions of the body,” said the exhibition’s curator David Breslin, John R. Eckel, Jr. Foundation Chief Curator, Menil Drawing Institute. “With Crystal and other projects that blur the line between sculpture and architecture, Schütte similarly reimagines the history and purpose of built spaces and the worlds they create. It was a real joy to work with Thomas as he realized this project for the Clark and Williamstown.” Accessible transport to Thomas Schütte: Crystal is available daily between 11:30 am–1:30 pm, weather permitting. Information and sign-up is available at the Clark’s admissions desk.
Major funding for Thomas Schütte: Crystal comes from the Ellsworth Kelly Foundation and from Elise Jaffe + Jeffrey Brown, whose gift made possible Crystal’s project design and architectural work.