Friday, May 6, 2011

5/6 Mark di Suvero's "Beethoven's Quartet" / Serioso at Zabar's

"Beethoven's Quartet" (
Here's an interesting take on Beethoven-inspired art. This is an huge"moving" sculpture by Mark di Suvero called "Beethoven's Quartet".  Apparently it has a sound element too...either the parts bang around in the wind, or the viewer is allowed to smack it with a hammer (it comes with its own hammers)?  Anyways, I've always been a fan of Alexander Calder's mobiles so I think this is pretty cool.

From an interview with Mr. di Suvero in June 2005:
JGC: Another motion-filled work is Beethoven’s Quartet, which has a suspended, moving core. How did you develop the central shape? Could you discuss balancing the different kinds of steel?

MdS: There are three types of steel in the piece—Cor-ten (a specialized alloy), steel, and stainless steel. It took me almost three years to build. The central element is a suspended stainless steel mobius band. It’s a one-sided surface, and it has an ellipse that I used to change the center of gravity of the total piece. At one end, there is an evolution that seems to be a spiral. In fact, it’s not a direct spiral. That part is all cold bend. Most of the bend in the steel is cold bend, which I do with a crane. It is a minor version of a tour de force in handling the steel—to bend one-inch Cor-ten is quite difficult. The other end is a straight Constructivist collage in which the cut-out circles and ellipses are important in a different way. They are suspended, and I try to give them a lot of detail up high, as you find in the flying buttresses of Gothic churches, to give a sense of the sky and liberty.

JGC: Does the title drive the work or emerge later?

MdS: Titling pieces is an important part for me. Sometimes they tell me their names; it’s written into the piece. Sometimes it’s difficult to do. Beethoven’s Quartet has changed the aesthetic evolution of my life. This work was very hard to name, and I think it’s an awkward title. There was a great book written by a mathematician called Beethoven: His Spiritual Development. It talks mostly about how the quartets evolve. The very late quartets have an exaltation to them and an anguish, with a realization on the other side of anguish, where there is not just acceptance but something above the landscape of human emotions. It is not otherworldly in the sense of spiritual, clean, and pure. It accepts the kind of cruelty that existence gives us—in Beethoven’s case, deafness, the worst thing that could happen to a composer.

Here's "Beethoven's Quartet" in action:

"Beethoven's Quartet", a closer view

And apropo of nothing, here's Beethoven's "Serioso" String Quartet 1st Movement performed at Zabar's fish market...
(Escher String Quartet)

Beethoven at Zabar's NYC

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