Curvae in Curvae, 2013-18
Cor-Ten steel, ed. 3/3
106 3/4 x 118 1/8 x 90 3/4 inches
Beverly Pepper has had a long and extraordinary career. Like her contemporaries Louise Bourgeois and Louise Nevelson, Pepper forged a unique path as a mid-century feminist artist. She worked against the prevailing attitude towards women making big, physically demanding art that allowed her to mirror the processes of nature itself. Pepper learned to weld by working in actual factories, and there is increasing recognition that she is, indeed, the first American artist to work with Cor-ten steel.* Pepper revels in both the built and rural environment, drawing energy and imagery that connects her work to the continuity of human life.
Pepper started her art training in painting and industrial design in New York before World War II. She moved to Paris after the war, and through her studies and travel, was exposed to the richness of the world's cultures. She abandoned painting by the 1960s, and was one of the pioneers of large-scale outdoor Earth works, art that escaped the clean spaces of museums, shaping our experience in and of the landscape. Pepper was also a leading artist in creating large-scale, muscular indoor and outdoor sculptures, using the materials of industry to evoke ancient totemic forms from ancient cultures from around the globe.
Pepper moved permanently to Italy in the 1950s, first from her own artistic interests, but stayed because of the work she and her journalist husband embarked upon at a time of great change and promise on the continent. Pepper's work is infused with the colors and history of her Umbrian home, and while she is not as well-known as her American contemporaries due to her living and working abroad, her self-imposed isolation has allowed her to develop a distinctive vocabulary.
Pepper's goal is to dominate the materials of the earth metal and stone—so that they take on a personality and texture that runs counter to the neutral face of modem architecture. She holds in tension the forms of culture using the materials of nature; she holds in tension the past while suggesting the future.
Curvae in Curvae uses the Latin feminine word curvae, singular of curvus, or bent, curved. There is something languid about the work, like a tender shoot snaking out of the earth and curling back down into it. Pepper is able to balance the deep earthy tinge of the work's surface while suggesting the freshness of nature in the spring.
Beverly Pepper was bom in New York in 1922, and lives between Todi, Italy and New York. She studied in Paris in 1949 at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière; attends classes with André L'Hôte at the studio of Fernand Léger. She received her Doctorate of Fine Arts from the Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, in 1982; and her Doctorate of Fine Arts from The Maryland Institute, Baltimore, in 1983. She also studied at the Accademico di Merito, Accademia di Belle Artist in Perugia, Italy in 1987.
Pepper has had one-person museum exhibitions at: Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park - Grand Rapids, Michigan; Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia, The Graduate Center, the City University of New York; Studio Art Center International, Florence, Italy; Caja de Ahorros del Mediterràneo, Majorca, Spain; and Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, New Jersey, the Samuel P. Ham Museum of Art, Gainesville, Florida; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Piazza Maggiore Mostra, Todi, Italy; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Palais Royal, Paris; the Princeton Art Museum, New Jersey; Dag Hammarskjold Plaza Sculpture Garden, New York, and the Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, among others.
Her work is held in public collections of; the Albertina Museum, Vienna; ARTIOMI Sculpture Park, Ghent, New York; the Barcelona Museum of Modern Art, Spain, the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; the Dallas Museum of Art; the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, Massachusetts; Fattoria Celle, Pistoia, Italy; the Florence Museum of Art and the Galleria d'Arte Modema, Florence, Italy, the Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Galleria Civica d'Arte, Turin, Italy, Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome; the Detroit Institute of Art; Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and the National Arboretum, Washington; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Instituto Italiano de Cultura, Stockholm, Sweden; the Jerusalem Foundation, Israel; Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, the Milwaukee Art Museum; the Museu d'Arte Contemporari de Barcelona, Spain; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan; Neo-hodos, Adachi-ku Machizukuri, Tokyo; the Power Institute of Fine Art, Sydney; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; The
Jewish Museum, The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The San Francisco Museum of Art; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Weizmann Institute, Rehovath, Israel, among many others.
The artist has been commissioned for site-specific works in: Assisi, Italy, Atlanta; Barcelona; Brooklyn; Buffalo; Calgary, Canada; Cassino, Italy, Dallas; Dartmouth, New Hampshire; Denver, Detroit; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Irvine, California; Kansas City, Kitakyusha-city, Japan; L'Aquila, Italy, Memphis; Mercerville, New Jersey, Minneapolis; Narni, Italy, New York; Princeton, New Jersey, New Smyrna, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; San Anselmo, Califomia; Sacramento; San Diego; Southfield, Michigan; Spoleto, Italy; Todi, Italy; Tokyo; Toledo, Ohio; Torgiano, Italy; and Vinsebeck, Germany, among others.
In 2013 Pepper received the International Sculpture Center's Lifetime Achievement in in Sculpture Award. In 1994 she received the Women's Caucus for the Arts' Outstanding Achievement in the Visual Arts, and alongside numerous other awards in recognition of her career.