Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strip Stake

You might recall that one of the many ongoing projects here at this humble blog is writing about the public art outside the Portland Art Museum. I haven't done one of these posts for a while, but there are still a few left to cover; today's item is Strip Stake by Anthony Caro is located on 10th outside the old Masonic Temple building. It's easy to overlook since it sort of looks like it might be an abandoned bit of gear left behind by carpenters or window washers. I'll try to be objective and not snark about it, but I admit this really isn't one of my favorites. Caro also created Gulf Stream just around the corner, which I'm a bit more fond of.

Caro's website includes a gallery photo of Strip Stake. The same photos shows up in a PORT review of someone's local gallery show; one of the pieces is compared to Strip Stake toward the end of the review:

It reminds me somewhat of Sir Anthony Caro's Strip Stake at the Portland Art Museum, but differs in that Reflexion isn't terribly invested in being an object… but as a project completed.

A Portland Monthly review of the same show made a similar comparison:

Remove this piece from its context in Tractor, and it becomes a crisp sculpture of scale, a Donald Judd take on Anthony Caro’s “Strip Stake” at the Portland Art Museum (find it outside on SW 10th).

Strip Stake arrived in Portland circa 2001 as part of the estate of Clement Greenberg, the prominent art critic. The museum hosted a show then to show off their new acquisitions; an SFGate review of the show praised a number of the pieces but suggested it had been inadequately curated. Strip Stake got a brief mention:

Several large pieces by sculptor Anthony Caro make him look overdue for reappraisal. His great "Strip Stake" (1971-74), all legs, and not all of them reaching the floor, is the philosophical contemporary of Richard Serra's best work.

These mentions are clearly meant as compliments, if only I was a little better at deciphering them. I gather Strip Stake possesses, or is believed to possess, deep and arcane artistic merits that I'm entirely failing to grasp. I like to think I'm a reasonably intelligent and sophisticated person, but I may have to just throw up my hands and say "I don't get it" this time around. Sigh.

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