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Hood Museum of Art
Dartmouth College
Hanover, NH 03755

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Public Art at Dartmouth

Joel Shapiro, American, born 1941 untitled (Hood Museum of Art) 1989–90 Bronze

Joel Shapiro, American, born 1941

untitled (Hood Museum of Art)
Collection of the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Purchased through gifts from Kirsten and Peter Bedford, Class of 1989P, Sondra and Celso Gonzalez-Falla, Daryl and Steven Roth, Class of 1962, and an anonymous donor; the Lathrop Fellows, including Kristin and Peter Bedford, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Burke, Class of 1944, Mr. and Mrs. Mark Gates, Class of 1959, Jerome Goldstein, Class of 1954, Mr. and Mrs. W. Patrick Gramm, Class of 1952, Mrs. Frank L. Harrington, Class of 1924W, Melville Straus, Class of 1960, Frederick Henry, Class of 1967, Mrs. Preston T. Kelsey, Class of 1958W, Mrs. Richard Lombard, Class of 1953W, and an anonymous friend; purchased through the Miriam and Sidney Stoneman Acquisition Fund and the Claire and Richard P. Morse 1953 Fund; Evelyn A. and William B. Jaffe, Class of 1964H, by exchange; S.990.40

Shortly after the opening of the Hood Museum of Art in 1985, Joel Shapiro was selected to create a large outdoor sculpture for the museum courtyard. He was known before this commission principally for his evocative small-scale work, which consisted of near abstractions in wood and bronze, often just a few inches in height, that were installed directly on the floor. Suggestive of elemental forms—houses, tables, or chairs—these diminutive works triggered thoughts of childhood, dreams, memories, loss, and displacement. In the mid-1980s, however, Shapiro began to create playful assemblages of minimal, blocklike shapes that evoked life-sized figures arrested in mid-motion.

Untitled (Hood Museum of Art), one of the artist's earliest monumental outdoor sculptures, would prove to be a crucial step in Shapiro's rise to national and international renown. Currently, his work is on display at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the National Gallery in Washington, outside the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and at other institutions around the country. The challenge at the Hood was to engage the museum's exterior entrance ramp and animate the courtyard space without allowing the work to overpower (or be diminished by) the scale of the museum on one side and the Hopkins Center on the other. Shapiro's solution was to create an elegant, attenuated form kicking up the ramp toward the museum entrance. The near-falling figure energizes the space and echoes the fractured, winding façade of the building, transforming the courtyard into a kind of stage set.

Last Updated: 10/5/12