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Legendary sculptor's work in small scale

By Stephanie Rieke-Miller

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) features the smaller-scale work of preeminent American sculptor Mark di Suvero in an exhibition entitled “Mark di Suvero: Tabletops.”

This is the first solo museum exhibition of the artist’s tabletop works. Di Suvero is best known for his dynamic and monumental works made of industrial steel and salvaged materials that populate museum grounds, landscapes, and urban environments around the world. This exhibition, organized by UMMA, features approximately 15 of di Suvero’s rarely exhibited works called tabletops from the late 1950s to the present.

The exhibition runs through Feb. 26.

Di Suvero’s tabletops are not maquettes of larger-scale works but an expressionistic and engaging genre all their own, an outlet for exploring ideas relating to the calligraphic nature of form, balance, proportion, and movement. Crafted of steel, stainless steel, and titanium, most of the pieces are kinetic, akin to his larger works, while others remain stationary.

Drawing from numerous private collections, as well as the artist’s studio, the exhibition offers the opportunity to experience this lively and intimate work in the Museum’s ground level, glass-walled Irving Stenn, Jr, Family Project Gallery in conversation with the two di Suvero outdoor steel sculptures on the Museum’s grounds–“Orion” (2006) and “Shang” (1984–85).

“UMMA has been a strong supporter of Mark’s work over the past many years and it is only appropriate that we present the first solo museum exhibition of his tabletop works,” said UMMA Director Joseph Rosa. “My thanks go to his studio and the private collectors who so generously loaned their di Suvero pieces for this exclusive opportunity.”

In addition to the two current outdoor works on view year round, di Suvero visited Ann Arbor in 2004 to install his 2001 piece “Ave Delirio” on the site where the new Maxine and Stuart Frankel and the Frankel Family Wing was later built.

Born in 1933 in China, di Suvero immigrated with his family to San Francisco in 1941 and graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in philosophy in 1956. Di Suvero moved to New York in 1957 and he maintains studios in Northern California, New York, and France. In addition to countless national and international exhibitions and awards, di Suvero was honored in March of this year with the National Medal of the Arts by President Obama in a White House ceremony.

His work can be found in such venerable public collections as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Moderna Museet, Stockholm, among many other outdoor locations and sculpture parks worldwide. This year the artist’s work was featured in the high-profile exhibition “Mark di Suvero at Governors Island: Presented by Storm King Art Center” in New York City.

PHOTO: Mark di Suvero, Maya 1995, steel, Collection of the artist.

This exhibition is made possible in part by the Office of the President of the University of Michigan, the University of Michigan Health System, and Laura Lynch and Hugh McPherson.

UMMA is located at 525 South State Street, Ann Arbor. For more information, please visit