July 20, 2010

MoMA Mystery Solved: Les Levine's 'Star Garden'

It occurred to me today that someone with a sharp eye, who has lived through New York City's art history as it's been made, might recognize this incredible molded acrylic structure pictured in the Museum of Modern Art's garden, with a kid running through it.

MoMA has this photo posted on the second floor, with no caption, but a date--1970--that turns out to be wrong. I emailed the image to veteran artist and critic John Perrault, and sure enough, he flagged it as a sculpture by Canadian-New York artist Les Levine.

Turns out it's called Star Garden, and it was displayed at MoMA in the Spring of 1967. It was made by softening and shaping acrylic sheeting called Acrylite using jets of hot air. There's a MoMA press release for the piece, and a May 1967 mention of it in Time. And it looks a lot like other molded acrylic pieces Levine was making at the time.

There was a time when it'd take 2-3 years to solve a blog mystery like that; so three months is pretty good. Next?

works by Les Levine in York University's Canadian artists database [yorku.ca, many thanks john perrault]

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