Berman Museum

Buky Schwartz, Rocks (maquette), 1977. Marble. 14 x 14 x 14 inches. On loan from Nancy Berman
Buky Schwartz, Rocks (maquette), 1977. Marble. 14 x 14 x 14 inches. On loan from Nancy Berman

Mini Me

Maquette: an artist’s preliminary model or sketch for a larger piece of sculpture, created in order to visualize how it might look and to work out scale and materials for how it might be made.

Philip & Muriel Berman were invested in the work of contemporary artists who think big. They created opportunities and provided infrastructure for many sculptors to execute their visions. In 1993, the Bermans hosted a month-long sculpture fabricating workshop in the Lehigh Valley and invited 13 participants from the United States, Canada, and England. The Bermans acquired tons of marble and granite from quarries in Vermont and New Hampshire and secured industrial remnants from Bethlehem Steel and other manufacturing sites that were discarding steel and iron beams, boilers, and other building materials. The artists had at their disposal all of the equipment and support workers necessary to create monumental sculptures, which were eventually placed at academic and non-profit organizations throughout Pennsylvania, including Ursinus College.

This installation highlights maquettes for sculptures either commissioned or acquired by the Bermans or other BMA donors. The full-scale versions are sited throughout the Northeast and function as monuments equivalent to the public sculpture commissioned by patrons throughout history. Their contemporary vocabulary activates the landscape and the surrounding environment.

Re-envisioning a small composition on a massive scale and realizing it on a dedicated site is a lengthy and involved process, conceptually, phenomenologically, and logistically. Manipulating steel, marble, granite, and aluminum takes immensely skillful and trusted fabricators and installers.

Many of these artists have pushed the boundaries of size. John Hock creates massive geometric solids pulled from industrial detritus while Steve Tobin fabricates 20 ft. tall slender, elegant root sculptures which seem to dance across the landscape. Glenn Zweygardt created some of the early public sculptures on the Ursinus campus, including Bearkeeper and Upheaval II. Tom Sternal envisions utilitarian sculptures such as benches and totem markers using marble, granite, and aluminum. Paul Sisko plays with geometry, such as cubes and circles, to compose powerful and bold arrangements.

QR codes on the object labels provide links to the fully realized sculptures in-situ.

Lisa Tremper Hanover, Exhibition Curator

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