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Visual Arts

See the Nasher’s Whimsical New Fountain Installation

The museum just acquired a five-figure sculpture by Nicole Eisemann.
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As another sweltering Texas summer creeps in, Dallasites may spend their spare moments reminiscing on simpler, cooler times (say, last week?) and daydreaming of afternoons spent poolside. Why not pond-side, too?

This week, Nasher Sculpture Center announced its acquisition of artist Nicole Eisenman’s five-part work Sketches for a Fountain. When the installation initially debuted at the Skulptur Projekte Münster in 2017, three of the figures remained in plaster, as there was not enough time to cast them in bronze before the exhibition. At the Nasher, however, the collection is entirely bronzed, bringing a certain look of refinement and polish. Joining the likes of Segal’s Rush Hour and Abakanowicz’s Bronze Crowd, Eisenman brings different kind of bronze cast to the garden.

Kevin Todora for Nasher Sculpture Center

The installation displays five figures, three of which spout water into the adjacent pond. Each sculpted body illustrates a different form of relaxation. One figure sits cross-legged at the far end of the pond looking contemplative, with hands folded just beneath the head and a gaze directed thoughtfully to the water. Across the pond, another figure stands gazing upward, his back arching as if in the middle of a pleasing stretch after an afternoon nap. The remaining sculptures take a similar form of repose. The scene would be practically motionless and undisturbed if not for the hydraulic movement from the water features.

The sculptures, while generally resembling the human body, possess a number of emphasized features, such as large feet and hands, androgynous bodies, and minimal facial structures. These characteristics, though seemingly odd taken individually, come together to craft an otherworldly and whimsical scene where drowsy god-like giants have come to rest by the pond after a long day of smiting or mountain moving. Eisenman’s fascination with the artifice of historic fountains, along with her interest in introspection and the humorous aesthetic, construct a delightfully peaceful scene, especially amid the Texas heat.

Eisenman’s Sketches for a Fountain is on view at the Nasher through October 27, 2019. The museum will have free admission on Sunday to celebrate Memorial Day.

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