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 50 Years/50 Artworks      

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Dennis Oppenheim
(American, b. 1938)
Scale model for Engagement
1995
copper, plastic, glass, wood, 30" x 30" x 25"
D96.s4
Gift of the Artist
Drawing study for Engagement
1995
pencil, colored pencil, pastel on paper,
50" x 38"
Alice Tweed Tuohy Foundation Purchase

Beginning with his early investigations into earth art, body art, video and installation sculpture in the late 1960s, Dennis Oppenheim has consistently created artworks that probe deeply and at the same time lightheartedly into human desires, emotions, relationships and thought processes. A conceptual trope often employed by the artist is that of a system – whether one of the body, the mind, or of society – in the midst of breaking down. Engagement is typical of Oppenheim’s recent sculpture, in that it uses easily recognizable images, greatly increased in size, to spark a dialogue about situations, emotions and relationships common to most people. Rising to a height of thirty feet in the outdoor public sculpture, Engagement is comprised of two immense rings, each sporting a house-shaped gem of steel and colored glass. Leaning precariously away from each other, the rings refer both to traditional notions of unity, home and family, and to their fragility and potential for dissolution. As in many of Oppenheim’s works, the common objects (in this case rings and houses) are often sculptural stand-ins for individuals.

Widely acknowledged as a seminal influence on contemporary art practice, Oppenheim’s work has been featured in literally hundreds of exhibitions worldwide, and scores of his public sculptures have been commissioned and built. On the occasion of his 1996 solo exhibition at the Tweed Museum of Art, Oppenheim gifted this work, two other models for public sculpture, and two large drawings to the permanent collection.

 
 
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