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The Daily Plant : Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Robert Lobe’s Sculptures Take Root In Prospect Park’s Pastoral Landscape

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New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation and the Prospect Park Alliance are proud to announce an exhibition of new sculptures by Robert Lobe in Prospect Park on view through November 2011. The exhibition Nature in Nature features three works, Invisible Earth, Antique Jenny and Nature’s Clock, located around the park’s historic Boathouse and Lullwater, in the heart of this masterpiece of landscape art designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux.

Lobe uses a variation of the ancient metalworking technique repoussé, in which metal is hammered around an object to obtain shapes and patterns. He encases trees and boulders in malleable aluminum, and with countless mallet strikes and a pneumatic air compressor, he gathers and tools the metal snuggly around their shapes. This unique process enhances the textures and shadowy contours of the life-sized sculptures, blurring the line between abstraction and realism.

Lobe reflects on geographical, historical and mythological representations of the natural world, including the tradition of Romantic landscape painting in American art. These hollow reliefs also allude to the less bucolic 17th century vanitas or still-life paintings that addressed life’s emptiness and decay. Lobe embraces nature while using materials that contrast with his subject. He stitches together metal sheets and leaves exposed the joints, seams and bolts, revealing the underlying beauty of his sculpture’s mechanical construction.

Emerging from beneath the Cleft Ridge Span, park goers will confront Antique Jenny on a grassy triangular intersection just south of the Boathouse. Located across from the park’s notable ancient tree the Camperdown Elm (made famous in the poem by Marianne Moore), the sculpture also overlooks the Boathouse and Lullwater. Lobe celebrates nature’s resources and our reliance on them since prehistoric times. Invisible Earth captures a composition of precarious balance and has been situated for maximum effect in a spectacular setting within the Lullwater—seemingly hovering over its reflective surface. Nearby at the man-made Binnen Falls, Nature’s Clock, the largest of the three sculptures, is stationed on a hillock which mimics the sloped terrain of the Appalachian Trail, whose forest detritus originally inspired Lobe to create the sculpture.

Robert Lobe (b. 1945, Detroit, MI) has been exhibiting his sculpture since 1974. He has won several prestigious awards, including two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Guggenheim Sculptor in Residence, two Pollock-Krasner Foundation Awards and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award. His work can be seen in numerous public collections, most notably the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York City; the National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; the Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.

Robert Lobe is the latest in a long list of distinguished artists to exhibit in Prospect Park, including Roxy Paine, Mark Di Suvero, Melinda Hunt, and Steve Tobin. Parks & Recreation’s public art program has consistently fostered the creation and installation of temporary public art in parks throughout the five boroughs. Since 1967, collaborations with arts organizations and artists have produced hundreds of public art projects in New York City parks.


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Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
(1749 - 1832)

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