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One remarkable counterpoint of height, material, and form arises from Untitled (1958/1960) and For the Janitor's Wife (2004). The former-the smallest piece in the exhibit, measuring roughly a foot and a half high, wide, and deep-is undoubtedly the exhibit's runt: a jagged, dense assemblage of rusted pieces of steel welded together. The sculpture would be forgettable were it not for the way its torn parts and rough texture dramatically elevate the smooth, brilliant topology of its neighbor. The most striking feature of For the Janitor's Wife is a sheet of stainless steel twisted into a spiral, held aloft atop an axle counterbalanced with steel weights. (The spiral was rocking ever so slightly when I walked in, something I can only attribute to the surreptitious touch of another visitor in the gallery, since the museum doesn't permit touching this particular sculpture.) This contrast of extremes-of the open, lively figure with the crushed, closed form-represents so much of the precise balance we've come to expect from individual di Suvero pieces.

What comes as a colorful surprise are three of di Suvero's wall-sized abstract paintings. One of these, Origins, resembles a periwinkle blue net laid over warm shapes. The painting pulses, providing a vivid backdrop for the sculptures. All are on display through February 26.    (end of article)

[Originally published in November, 2011.]


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University of Michigan Museum of Arts