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Di Donna Galleries is featuring “The Life of Forms,” an exhibition that explores the vitality and diversity of biomorphic sculpture among modern artists who translated forms found in nature into poetic shapes and rhythms.

The exhibition, on view through December 14, brings together important sculptures by Jean Arp, Ruth Asawa, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder, Agustin Cardenas, Barbara Hepworth, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, Wolfgang Paalen, and William Turnbull, installed in Di Donna’s Madison Avenue gallery in a setting that evokes a mysterious garden.

The gallery reveals that “The Life of Forms” features works loaned by major private collections and institutions, including The Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation and The Noguchi Museum.

The exhibition lends its name from French art historian Henri Focillon’s text The Life of Forms in Art (1934). 

Starting with Focillon’s idea that all art belongs to a family of forms that also allows for infinite variation, this exhibition investigates the historical and cultural factors behind some of modern sculpture’s most radical innovations.

“Some artists received inspiration from forms found in the natural world, as in the patterns seen in plants or insect wings, which inspired Asawa’s nesting wire mesh pods. Others turned to human anatomy in both its most primal and most idealized states, as is visible in Arp’s sculptures, or two works by Bourgeois that represent the artist’s depiction of bodily fragments as a metaphorical device to signify intimacy or primordial genesis,” states the gallery press note.

Moore attributed the strength of modern sculpture to artists’ interests in “the whole history of mankind,” a sensibility that is evident in the relationships between Moore’s figural sculptures and Pre-Columbian art. Likewise, Cardenas interpreted, in wood and in stone, totemic and Surrealist traditions that ascribe symbolic meaning to worldly objects.

“I work upward, linking the parts together,” Calder once explained—a method that suggests organic growth, as encapsulated in his sculpture, Yucca, in which a combination of elegant fixed and mobile elements rise into the air and conjure the physics of nature. 

Similarly, Hepworth honored a kind of organic verticality in her sculptures, especially as it relates to the nature of wood, her preferred material. She cultivated a dialogue with the intrinsic properties of wood as a natural element, and envisioned her sculptures as living organisms: “I like to dream of things rising from the ground,” she once said. “It would be marvelous to walk in the woods and suddenly come across such things.” 

The exhibition is on view through December 14, 2018 at Di Donna Galleries, 744 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10065- USA.

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