The last retrospective dedicated to Mark di Suvero took place more than thirty years ago, when the artist was in his late fifties and had already been making work for more than three decades. That the length of his career has more than doubled since then—and there hasn’t been a comprehensive retrospective since—is notable. Di Suvero never slowed his pace of making and innovating, and as he approaches his ninetieth birthday, he has at long last been heralded with an overdue survey. Mark di Suvero: Steel Like Paper, now on view at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and organized by the museum’s Chief Curator Jed Morse, includes thirty sculptures in addition to a wide array of lesser known drawings and paintings. Across these bodies of work, which span from the late 1950s through the present, di Suvero’s much-lauded vitality and generosity of spirit pervades the show, bestowing the viewer with a lingering sense of joie de vivre that is sometimes hard to come by in an oft-antiseptic contemporary museum setting.

In the Nasher’s central gallery, the lofty sculpture Swing (2008–22) is both a focal point and an invitation. A stainless steel base soars towards the ceiling from which hangs a cradle made from steel and rubber, loosely resembling a large bird’s nest. Visitors are encouraged to climb into the swing (one at a time) and are given a gentle push by a docent. This feels revolutionary in an age where works of art have been almost entirely cut off from all of the senses besides sight. In a museum, it’s standard that we look but don’t touch, and soon forget the fact that there are indeed many different ways to see.

Rocking in the swing while overlooking the vast gallery and huge picture windows facing the museum’s bucolic sculpture garden—which features a number of di Suvero’s iconic outdoor steel sculptures—the viewer has the sensation of becoming part of the sculpture, and is also imparted with a distinct awareness of being within one’s own body. That so many people who swing in di Suvero’s sculpture feel compelled to quickly jump out, a defensive measure against dawning self-consciousness, only underscores what di Suvero seems to be trying to share. Contemporary life discourages us from such intimate contact with our own human vessels. We don’t want to think about the untold goofy and heedless gestures we enact each day. A moment of vulnerability transpires when resting in di Suvero’s swing. For those who can allow themselves to linger in his refuge, swaying to and fro, the gentle action becomes a radical act of magnanimity.

Di Suvero’s name is nearly synonymous with his towering, large-scale outdoor pieces and public sculptures, and probably for that reason his work is frequently described as “monumental,” though the artist himself eschews that term. Even his largest works aren’t so much muscular in the sense of being aggressive or brawny, but rather in the somatic sense. They’re in sympathy with the body relative to its movement through space. A work like Swing provides a rejoinder to the prescribed line of thinking on di Suvero’s work; though it sails upwards, nearly grazing the ceiling, the humane quality of the sculpture is preserved.

Again and again, di Suvero’s work testifies to the exhilaration of fluidity and movement. This was true even in his earliest sculptures, but its importance cannot be divorced from the poignancy it assumed after 1960, the year the artist became paralyzed from the waist down following a devastating accident he suffered while working a day laborer’s job. At thirty-one years old, he defied his doctors’ predictions that he would never walk again, and regained mobility with the assistance of leg braces and canes. Hankchampion (1960) memorializes this critical juncture in di Suvero’s life, a work begun prior to his accident, and completed—with help of his younger brother Hank—in its wake. Salvaged from building demolitions in lower Manhattan that di Suvero frequently scrounged for materials early in his career, the chunky scraps of wood, though immobile, are pieced together in such a way as to suggest forward momentum. The sculpture simultaneously conveys precarity and sturdiness, locked in poetic limbo.

The exhibition makes a further case for the “anti-monumentality” of di Suvero’s work by highlighting a number of sculptures that are human-scale or smaller, including St. John the Baptist (1961), the first work he made completely in steel after learning how to weld following his accident. Some of the cuts to the metal appear jagged, as might befit an early work in metal but the slatted elements that dangle from one armature of the work, and resemble a twisted spine, are heart-rending. From here, audiences witness di Suvero’s increasing facility with metal across the ensuing decades. In a mature work like the tabletop sculpture WonTon (1970), di Suvero has coaxed an easy sensuality from the steel, bending and curling it into sinuous knots and corkscrews that can be shifted into various configurations, leaving open the possibility that one may never see exactly the same sculpture twice. With his implied encouragement of human interaction with the work itself, di Suvero again bucks the convention of severing object from mortal.

A number of drawings, prints, and paintings are also included in Steel Like Paper, emphasizing a less frequently seen but crucial facet of di Suvero’s oeuvre. His drawings are done in an assertive hand that communicates a warm optimism. As in a series of ink drawings from 2000–2001 titled “Eviva” for his large, outdoor sculpture Eviva Amore (2001) that sits in the Nasher’s sculpture garden as part of the permanent collection, his gestures on paper are reminiscent of the vigorous work of sculpture without ever crossing over into precise description. “If he could capture the energy of his ideas in a drawing,” Morse notes in his exhibition catalogue essay, di Suvero has said that “he could convey that energy in the finished sculpture.” Elsewhere, a nearly wall-sized canvas, Untitled (1995) is a two-dimensional surprise standout of the show. At around nine by eleven feet, the abstract painting is awash in squiggles of bold, kinetic color over a background of rich blue tones. Drawn in by the kineticism of di Suvero’s assured marks, which seem to move in a kaleidoscopic waltz across the surface, the eye can’t help but dance across the canvas. Once again, the viewer becomes one with the work, impossible to separate the dancer from the dance.

– Jessica Holmes
February 27, 2023

The big steel sculptures of Mark di Suvero are such public presences in so many places that it can be easy to overlook them as super-size decor accessories. The gigantic red Ad Astra, towering through two levels of NorthPark Center, is surely one of the most often seen artworks in North Texas. The artist’s sprawling Ave hails visitors to the south entrance of the Dallas Museum of Art. In the Nasher Sculpture Center garden his Eviva Amore stretches arms and legs from an implied globe of intersecting circles.

Di Suvero was an early enthusiasm of the late Raymond and Patsy Nasher, who endowed the sculpture center bearing their name. Ray was also the enlightened developer of NorthPark, the rare shopping center that can be called architecturally distinguished, its interiors generously accessorized with modern sculptures.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, and months before the artist’s 90th birthday, the Nasher is presenting the first major museum exhibition of di Suvero’s work in more than 30 years. For an artist so much associated with gigantic I-beam creations, di Suvero here is revealed as no less a master of intimacies. Small-scale sculptures have a gnarly playfulness, some even balanced for spinning. Works on paper — many, but not all, studies for sculptures — are astonishingly beautiful. The show was coordinated by Jed Morse, the Nasher’s chief curator.

If much modern art has been meant to challenge, even shock, a parallel force can be called populist modernism. The label fits di Suvero, whose longstanding commitment to peace and social justice got him arrested for anti-war protests and prompted a self-imposed European exile during the Vietnam War. For all their industrial abstraction, not to mention enormous weight, even the largest works exude a humane force field. Swing, in the Nasher’s entrance gallery, even invites you to recline in its rubber hammock.

Di Suvero was born in Shanghai to Italian parents who moved to San Francisco when he was 8. He earned a philosophy degree from the University of California at Berkeley but was increasingly drawn to sculpture. Moving to New York in 1957, he worked construction and other jobs to support his sculptural experiments, often assembled from heavy wooden beams and steel bits salvaged from building demolitions. His first solo exhibition, in 1960, attracted considerable notice.

-Scott Cantrell

January 28 - August 27, 2023

Mark di Suvero (American, born China, 1933) has long been lauded as one of the most significant sculptors of the past 60 years, renowned for monumental, abstract, steel constructions that grace urban plazas, bucolic sculpture parks, and public spaces throughout the world.  Industrial studios in Long Island City, New York and Petaluma, California support the creation of these large-scale works, as well as nurture his practice on a more intimate scale.  The exhibition at the Nasher focuses on the artist’s studio practice over the course of his more than six-decade career, surveying the more intimately and modestly scaled sculptures in parallel with his energetic and rarely seen drawings. Featuring 30 sculptures ranging in size from hand-held to monumental and more than 40 drawings and paintings spanning the artist’s career, Mark di Suvero: Steel Like Paper reveals the artist’s intimate studio practice that yields the power of his monumental vision.

In reference to the monumental works and his studio practice, di Suvero notes that, for him, plates of steel are like sheets of white paper, suggesting a facility, intimacy, malleability, and limitless potential rarely associated with his obdurate materials. The artist has pursued a largely improvisatory process throughout his career, working on multiple objects at once, occasionally allowing compositions to develop slowly over many years, and embracing chance and surprise discoveries, even when working with massive materials, large equipment, and crews of assistants. Drawing, painting, and making smaller sculptures provide opportunities to explore ideas on his own. The drawings frequently capture an initial blast of inspiration and often exhibit the freedom and dynamism also apparent in his larger sculptures. Smaller constructions perch, balance, twirl, and unfold, evincing whimsy and wonder, which also energize the monumental assemblages. The sense of play apparent in the smaller works is a constant in di Suvero’s practice and harkens back to the artist’s first forays into public sculpture, making swings and play sculptures for friends, art patrons, and neighborhood children alike. Such egalitarianism serves as a core personal foundation for the artist and finds expression in his public sculptures as well as his lifelong dedication to social justice.

Organized by the Nasher Sculpture Center, the exhibition is the most extensive survey of his work in over 30 years and the largest US museum exhibition since his first at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1975. In recognition of the long friendship the artist shared with Nasher Sculpture Center founders Raymond and Patsy Nasher, the exhibition takes place as part of the museum’s celebration of its 20th year.


Mark di Suvero: Steel Like Paper is made possible by leading support from the Texas Commission on the Arts and Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger. Generous support is provided by the Sidney E. Frank Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Dallas Tourism Public Improvement District (DTPID). Generous support for the exhibition catalogue is provided by Paula Cooper Gallery.

April 14 - May 15, 2022

An exhibition of sculpture and works on paper by Beatrice Caracciolo and Mark di Suvero presents drawing in two and three dimensions. Caracciolo is known primarily for large-scale drawings and di Suvero for monumental sculpture. Here, the artists’ work across both mediums demonstrates their shared propensity for forceful and expressive lines, uninhibited improvisation, and a breadth of techniques and materials.

Alternately working from historical sources, from life, or from her imagination, Caracciolo’s drawings present scenes of nature and antiquity, abstracted through controlled yet delicate marks. In the current exhibition, Caracciolo will show works from two ongoing series, all completed in 2021. The Combattere drawings are based on paintings by eighteenth-century Italian artist Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo of the stock character Pulcinella engaged in a fight. Tiepolo’s forms hover beneath the surface of Caracciolo’s works, enhanced by her spontaneous markings and the collaged paper elements that add texture and depth. The Esistenza series is more representational, delighting in the dramatic forms found in nature. Caracciolo was influenced by the philosophical tradition of seeking spiritual transcendence in a sublime landscape, and took particular inspiration from Chinese calligraphy and painting.

Mark di Suvero’s sculpture combines the roughness of industrial materials with a gestural quality reminiscent of three-dimensional drawing, a metaphor emphasized here by the ink and pencil studies on the surrounding walls. Tabletop works with kinetic or interchangeable elements contradict the weight of their titanium, steel, and bronze parts, while floor-bound sculptures encapsulate the issues at the core of di Suvero’s larger work, namely the intensely physical handling of metal, the contrast between mass and weightlessness, and the balance that results from the intersection of multidirectional angular and rounded shapes. The drawings are meditative rather than preparatory, capturing, in the artist’s words, “the memory of an idea and how to transform this idea into a sculpture…they are the map of my thinking. Feeling in ink.”

Beatrice Caracciolo (b. 1955, São Paulo, Brazil) is an Italian artist based in Paris. Recent one-person exhibitions include Innocenti at Paula Cooper Gallery (2020); Créer en soi le dragon de feu, at the Temple Collection in Beijing (2016); Attraversare Il Fuoco at Almine Rech Gallery in Paris (2013); … pour que passe enfin mon torrent d’anges at the Château de Haroué in Haroué, France (2012); and Tumulti at the Académie de France à Rome, Villa Medici (2010). Works by the artist are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Morgan Library, New York; the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven; the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.

Mark di Suvero (b. 1933, Shanghai, China) first came to international prominence in 1975 with a display of his work in the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris and a major retrospective that same year at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, which was accompanied by a citywide exhibition of large-scale works. The artist has had acclaimed international exhibitions in Nice (1991), Venice (1995, at the 46th Venice Biennale), Paris (1997), Governors Island, NY (2011), and San Francisco (2013), among many others. His numerous accolades include the 2000 International Sculpture Center’s Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, the 2010 National Medal of Arts awarded by President Barack Obama, the 2010 Medal of the Archives of American Art, and the 2013 American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal. His works appear permanently installed in public spaces all over the world. The artist currently lives and works in New York and in Petaluma, California.

April 9 - June 25, 2022

December 18, 2021 – January 24, 2022

Paula Cooper Gallery is pleased to present a selection of modern and contemporary drawings and exceptional works on paper dating from the late nineteenth century to the present day. Treasures by canonical European and American artists will accompany exquisite drawings by gallery artists.

Artists in the exhibition: Terry Adkins, Carl Andre, Lee Bontecou, Jonathan Borofksy, Cecily Brown, Beatrice Caracciolo, Paul Cezanne, Bruce Conner, Willem de Kooning, Jay DeFeo, Beauford Delaney, Mark di Suvero, Luciano Fabro, Robert Grosvenor, Philip Guston, Eva Hesse, Hans Hofmann, Wassily Kandinsky, Ellsworth Kelly, Franz Kline, Sherrie Levine, Sol LeWitt, Lee Lozano, Agnes Martin, John McLaughlin, Robert Motherwell, David Novros, Claes Oldenburg, Jackson Pollock, Richard Pousette-Dart, Robert Rauschenberg, Ad Reinhardt, Robert Ryman, Joel Shapiro, David Smith, Rudolf Stingel, Atsuko Tanaka, Alma Thomas, Bob Thompson, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol.

August 14 - November 7, 2021

Every few years, the waves of our beloved coastline glow bright blue – a phenomenon caused by single-celled organisms, bioluminescent dinoflagellate, who release a flash of light in response to perceived threats. This light’s purpose is twofold: to beckon other creatures who might deter the predator, and to startle the perceived threat and scare it away. For the human viewer, the luminescence appears to be both within and on the surface of the water, an experience both otherworldly and deeply familiar.

This same glowing and familiar light is present throughout History and Its Shadow, an exhibition of paintings and sculpture by celebrated artist Mark di Suvero. While maintaining an active sculptural practice, in the past five years di Suvero has begun making paintings textured with phosphorescent and fluorescent paint. These paintings are both visible in the light of day and glow in darkness, retaining light for up to fifteen minutes when activated with black light. This series of paintings are brilliantly abstract and particularly powerful when exhibited in relationship with the other examples of di Suvero’s extensive practice.

In addition to paintings, History and Its Shadow also includes three sculptures. The Triplets are consistent in their form and design — utilizing three intersecting plates. Two hanging works are made using foam core board, a material commonly used in photography mounting and architecture classes. Di Suvero paints the sculptures with the same phosphorescent paint he uses in his paintings, giving the works multiple perspectives for the viewer. Like many of di Suvero’s large sculptures, these kinetic works gently and subtly sway with the wind as bodies move throughout the space. The materials di Suvero utilizes speak to the accessibility of the creativity available to us all. Historically making large-scale sculptures with materials complex and costly to find and transport, di Suvero now intentionally makes work daily with the materials that are at hand, ones that are easy and affordable for anyone to source. The model for the Triplets is also included in the show, made out of titanium — a material both very strong and very light, and resistant to corrosion.

Outside on the Mission Plaza lawn, the Museum presents Mamma Mobius, a transcendent sculpture that pays homage to the mobius strip, a ring of infinity. Mamma Mobius is brought to you by the City of SLO’s Art in Public Places program. The works included in this exhibition ground the viewers in between the past and the future; our consistent evolution, in between history and its shadow.

All images and text ©Mark di Suvero and Spacetime C.C. 2022