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Taylor Zakarin

Joel Shapiro (American, born 1941) 
20 elements, 2004-2005 
Wood with Casein 
122 x 132 x 85 inches 
Nancy A. Nasher and David J. Haemisegger Collection

As many of you might know, NorthPark Center shares a founder, Raymond Nasher, with the Nasher Sculpture Center in the Arts District. As a result, much of the art you encounter at NorthPark not only is by the same or similar artists as those at Nasher, but there are quite a few works that have been on view at both institutions. One such work that is timely to note is 20 elements by American artist, Joel Shapiro. The work is best known as the dynamic, geometric, and colorful piece that was previously exhibited on Level One near Nordstrom. Part of the latest Joel Shapiro exhibition at the Nasher, the sculpture is on view until August 21.

The sculpture’s presence at the Nasher Sculpture Center marks its second time being on view inside of a museum. In 2004, the Musée d’Orsay in Paris invited Shapiro to participate in their project titled Correspondences. In this series, the museum linked contemporary artists with works of their choice from the museum’s permanent collection of 19th century art. Joel Shapiro selected Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s monumental marble sculpture group titled La Danse, which was produced to decorate the façade of the Paris Opera in 1863. La Danse conveys movement through the unbalanced postures and leaping spirit of figures that seem to be dancing in all directions. The result: his bold construction titled 20 elements. The work, which is composed of 20 wooden elements each joined to one another in unique and unexpected relationships, takes the dynamism of Carpeaux’s sculpture one step further with the dispersion of color in space. Shapiro’s elements are vibrantly colored in red, yellow, blue, green, and black that scatter an array of color, line, form, and shape.

At NorthPark, 20 elements served as a fountain of color in Nordstrom Court, mirroring the water fixtures in Dillard's Court or Neiman Marcus Court. At the Nasher Sculpture Center, the work serves as a bright and thrilling greeting as one enters the museum.

Shapiro is well known for his geometric, abstract sculptures that appear to float and fly through museum galleries and sculpture gardens. Though abstract, these sculptures evoke the human figure, with the simple box-like forms transforming into torsos and limbs that crouch, leap, or teeter on the edge of toppling over. His work has been the subject of over 160 solo exhibitions and retrospectives.