Thursday, November 10, 2011
Destroyed by Nazi bombs in 1940, Rotterdam's city center was rebuilt after the war, replacing old labyrinthine streets with broad boulevards and grand vistas. By 1957 Ossip Zadkine's sculpture Destroyed City stood in the old port, and Naum Gabo's untitled constructivist abstraction was erected outside the newly constructed Bijenkorf department store. A discussion of these two contrasting works reveals this period as a critical juncture for urban sculpture as it moved from figuration to abstraction, and away from traditional memorials toward more decorative functions, and raises issues about public art that remain relevant today.
Joan Pachner is an independent art historian specializing in modern sculpture. A lecturer at The Museum of Modern Art, she has published about the work of Tony Smith, David Smith, Anthony Caro, Jose de Rivera, and George Segal.
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