Saturday Art: ‘Puellae’, in National Galleries’ Sculpture Garden
Small editorial glitch, this diary got erased just a bit ago, so am recreating now.
One of the pleasures of lovely days in D.C. is the experience of exploring the treasures available to the public on the National Mall. That includes the many sculptures, the dramatic fountain, and the wonderful plants and trees in the Sculpture Garden.
Above, the Puellae of Magdalena Abakanowicz appear in the National Galleries’ Sculpture Garden. The work has been described just a short time ago as ‘creepy’ by a friend, but I find it really goes either toward an ethereal experience or to a dark side, depending on my mood.
Here the viewer encounters 30 anonymous figures only three feet high standing in the shade and under the cover of linden trees. For the installation, the artist spent a day and a half adjusting the exact placement of the figures in relation to the site and to each other. In discussing her subject, the artist explains: “I was fascinated by the body of a child with its soft bone structure, soft junctions and deriving out of it, movements impossible to be performed.”6 Stiff and headless, they only begin to hint at the tragic memory that inspired them. Abakanowicz recalls being told that in the winter of 1942, hundreds of Polish children froze to death in unheated cattle trucks en route to Germany.
The possibilities are endless for exploring and experiencing art and nature together, and I wish you the opportunity to visit.
Thanks, dakine01, for making the top photograph work for me, too, even though a small disruption was included.