Wood with zinc-coated copper
Lent by the artist
Contemporary artist Thomas Schütte (German, b. 1954) is best known for his public large-scale sculptures of figures that reimagine the role of statuary and monuments. The artist’s fascination with architecture as a kind of public sculpture that is both symbolic and practical complements his figurative practice and its exploration of the human form. Since the 1980s, Schütte has created a series of architectural models that conjure up spaces ranging from a tiny efficient home to a temple.
Crystal, Schütte’s site-specific installation at the Clark, is the artist’s first full-scale architectural artwork in the United States. It is located on a meadow near the top of Stone Hill, close to the woodland’s edge.
Schütte arrived at the unusual asymmetrical shape of Crystal by imagining a small piece of crystal scaled up to architectural proportions. The interior is clad in wood and references the traditional materials of rural vernacular architecture; the outside is zinc-coated copper, a modern material that speaks to contemporary means and methods.
Visitors enter the structure through doors on the northwest side; the southeast side of the structure is open and frames a view of six wild cherry and ash trees and the Hoosac mountain range that spreads out behind them toward North Adams. By drawing the visitor’s attention to this somewhat unexpected view, Crystal provides visitors the opportunity to reflect on how landscapes and places, including the Clark’s own campus, are constructed and preserved. The structure’s unusual construction does not clearly communicate its purpose, allowing visitors to construct their own meanings for this newly made place.
About the artist
Thomas Schütte studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf where he studied under artists and art historians including Gerhard Richter, Daniel Buren, and Benjamin Buchloh.
Schütte has been the subject of important exhibitions at the Serpentine Galleries, the Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Dia Art Foundation, the Serralves Foundation, and others. His works are included in the permanent collections of major museums including the Tate Modern, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Art Institute of Chicago.
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.