Copper in the Arts

June 2014

Storm King Art Center Presents a Major Exhibition of Copper Work by Contemporary Artist Zhang Huan

Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, NY recently unveiled a special exhibition titled Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition, featuring 15 important sculptures and works on paper by internationally celebrated contemporary artist Zhang Huan (b. 1965, Henan Province). On view through November 9, the exhibition’s centerpiece includes Zhang’s Three Legged Buddha (2007), a copper and steel colossal sculpture standing nearly 28 feet high and weighing more than twelve tons.
Zhang Huan, Three Legged Buddha, 2007. Gift of Zhang Huan and The Pace Gallery.Zhang Huan, Three Legged Buddha, 2007. Gift of Zhang Huan and The Pace Gallery.

The piece represents the bottom half of a sprawling, three-legged figure, one of whose feet rests on an 8-foot-high human head that appears to be either emerging from or sinking into the earth. The exhibition is located in Storm King’s pristine, 500-acre landscape of rolling hills, fields, and woodlands. Organized by David R. Collens, Director and Curator of Storm King Art Center, Melissa Chiu, Director of Asia Society Museum, New York, and Nora Lawrence, Associate Curator at Storm King, Zhang Huan: Evoking Tradition includes works on loan from collections in the U.S. and China. A new work on view for the first time, Milly’s Temple (2013), incorporates a traditional Chinese temple, and is among the outdoor sculptures. The exhibition focuses on Zhang’s interest in Chinese traditional culture, in particular Buddhist imagery and related themes.

“The inspiration for this exhibition is a large hammered copper sculpture, Three Legged Buddha,” Storm King’s Director and Curator David R. Collens explains. “As a practicing Buddhist, Zhang Huan uses ash from monasteries for his painting and sculpture, and has a particular interest in traditional Chinese artistry. Milly’s Temple is a recent example of the artist incorporating wooden elements from a traditional architectural structure to create a sculpture. Our visitors will see fascinating and inspiring works by Zhang Huan in the galleries and outdoors near the majestic Three Legged Buddha.” 

Five large-scale sculptures have been installed outside near Three Legged Buddha, juxtaposing that sculpture with related works in hammered copper, including sculptures such as Long Island Buddha (2010-2011) and Gone Beyond (2008). This series of large-scale works was inspired by the artist’s travels in Tibet, where he encountered fragments of Buddhist statuary destroyed during China’s Cultural Revolution in the mid-1960s and early 1970s. From markets in Tibet and other locations across Southeast Asia, Zhang assembled a collection of fragments— feet, legs, arms, fingers—of small-scale bronze Buddha figures, which he turned into monumental sculptures.

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Storm King Art Center, 1 Museum Rd, New Windsor, NY, (845) 534-3115

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