A Visit to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center re-opened in the summer of 2017. The newly designed and expanded garden presents 56 statues on a 19-acre lot and includes favorites like Claes Oldenburg’s Spoonbridge and Cherry  (1985-1988). Also on view along one of the walkways leading to the Walker Art Center, is Concetto Spaziale “Natura” (1961) by Italo-Argentinian artist, Lucio Fontana. The dynamic breaking open of the abstract form  sculpture is characteristic of Fontana’s work in the 1950s and 1960s.

The Sculpture Garden also includes Theaster Gates’ Black Vessel for a Saint. This is first permanent outdoor commission for the Chicago artist (born in 1973), and is inspired by the centrally planned “temples” like Bramante’s Tempietto. A 20-foot tall, black, brick cylinder rises from the center of the lawn. It houses a statue of St. Laurence salvaged from the church of same name in Chicago (torn down in 2014); Gates rescued a number of items from the structure. Since 2014 Gates has traveled the world with the sculpture; Black Vessel offers St. Laurence a final home. The interior of this “secular and sacred sanctuary” is accessed up one of two gently sloping grey ramps and through two wide doors. Light pours into the space from the large opening above which also creates a strong contrast of light and dark that evokes the drama of Italian Baroque architectural interiors. In this and all of his body of work, Gates’ seeks to create spaces of gathering and reflection that also foster community.

References: Renato Barilli. “Fontana, Lucio.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press. Walker Art Gallery “Garden Stories: Black Vessel for a Saint”; White Cube, “Theaster Gates


View of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. (Photo credit: Jennifer D. Webb)

Lucio Fontana. Concetto Spaziale “Natura” (Spatial Concept “Nature”), 1961, bronze. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, Gift of the T.B. Walker Foundation, 1966. (Photo credits: Jennifer D. Webb)

Theaster Gates. Black Vessel for a Saint, 2017, brick, granite, steel, concrete statue. Minneapolis: Walker Art Center. (Photo credits: Jennifer D. Webb)

Bramante. Tempietto, 1502, Rome, Italy. (Photo credit: Jennifer D. Webb)


Further Reading: Art21 “Theater Gates” and Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Posted by Jennifer D. Webb

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