Stanford’s New Guinea Sculpture Garden

More updates from the Bay Area, this one from occasional AGO photographer and contributor MB Maher. I’ll let him tell this adventure in his own words:

Shirley Watts messaged me to keep my Wednesday evening open. And per her instructions,
I found myself on the 4.09 caltrain to Palo Alto, getting off at Stanford, and
walking Palm Drive to the Oval. (University campuses are pretty astonishing.
Everyone is fit, on bicycles, speaking in Latin, and quoting Ayn Rand.)
Shirley revealed once we were in her pickup truck dodging freshmen that
Professor Harrison (a speaker at Watts’ own Natural Discourse symposium in
Berkeley last week) had taken her on a walk through the Stanford campus in
August, ending at the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden, which she was now, months
later, still dreaming and obsessing over, which was where we were headed.”

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According to Harrison, the University had flown in New Guinean tribesmen to make site-specific
work on campus — the tribesmen stayed for a whole year to build a thick, rambling
installation of woodwork

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What I will say about my poor photo-craftsmanship is that
these pieces snake and wobble and sway in a difficult fashion to describe with a
3×2 frame, despite their complete unmoving rigidity. Their curves and meandering
arcs are so pervasive and all-consuming, that if someone were to take a draftsman’s
t-square from their pocket and produce a right-angle in the garden, it would take
your breath away

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So by way of excusing myself and speaking to the sinuous unmoored
beauty of these wood carvings, I must explain that all horizon lines in the coming
photographs are level and that the movement of the pieces is not a result of any
lens distortion. They’re really doing it themselves

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4 Responses to Stanford’s New Guinea Sculpture Garden

  1. How did he ever tear himself away?

  2. somptueux ! belle lumière… merci Denise, Merci Mitch.

  3. Kris P says:

    Absolutely incredible!

  4. Denise says:

    Loree, my big question was is this done out of oak, and no, it wasn’t. The wood was imported from New Guinea. The carvers would have had to have been familiar with the wood to do all this in a year’s time.
    Glad you approve, Delphine!
    Kris, I agree their fluency in wood is astounding.

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