About the exhibition

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.  

Thomas Schütte: 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 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.  

Following the formal closing date of the exhibition, Thomas Schütte and the Clark agreed to keep Crystal on view indefinitely.  The structure is a distinctive addition to the landscape and is a popular destination for those who walk the Clark’s trails. 

Click here to view a trail map.

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.