Sunday, March 07, 2010

untitled (psu urban plaza)

untitled (psu urban plaza)

untitled (psu urban plaza)

A few photos of one of the huge granite blocks in Portland State University's Urban Plaza. These blocks, collectively, are an untitled work by the British sculptor John Aiken. The Smithsonian Art Inventory page describes it as:

Oval granite sculpture installed atop of two overlapping ovals made of granite pavers on the floor of the plaza and two black monoliths emerging from the plaza floor.

I didn't realize they were all part of a single group, so I only took photos of one of the monoliths. The other bits follow the same basic idea, so I suppose this will do.

A Portland Development Commission PR brochure about the Urban Plaza project provides more detail:


A 15-member art advisory committee was
assembled to select artwork for University
Plaza. A hefty budget of $225,000 – the city's
largest public art commission since Raymond
Kaskey’s sculpture "Portlandia" on the Portland
Building – drew more than 150 submissions.
The winning design by London-based sculptor
John Aiken consists of two large granite
sculptures that cast a series of smaller shadow
sculptures imbedded flat in the pavement. The
five or six elliptical-shaped shadows in textured
granite will be sprinkled throughout the plaza.
The large sculptures – rugged and irregular -
evoke the hills and jagged mountains of the
Oregon landscape in contrast to the controlled
precision of the cityscape.

And I also ran across what looks like a design sketch for the piece, itself part of a gallery show -- in Macau, oddly enough.

untitled (psu urban plaza)

This mini-bio of the sculptor lists a variety of his influences, including city fortifications and archeological sites. Which are refreshingly non-Portland influences (you know what I'm talking about -- salmon, pseudo-Asian themes, that sort of thing).

Since 2000, Aiken has been Slade Professor of Fine Art at University College London's Slade School of Fine Art. Which I understand is a rather prestigious position in the art world. His university bio describes his work, which includes exploring "new ways of creating autonomous objects using established and new industrial processes linked to the aesthetic capacity of exotic granites".

Assorted other items from the interwebs:
untitled (psu urban plaza) Other works of his: untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza) untitled (psu urban plaza)

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