This major sculpture by Mary Miss (American, b. 1944) and its studies are from the Museum’s permanent collection and are on view to complement the Chace gallery exhibition, Drawing Ambience: Alvin Boyarsky and the Architectural Association. Miss’s work is represented in Drawing Ambience with a study for a site-specfic outdoor sclupture that she created for the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) in London’s Bedford Square in 1987.
Miss’s focus on architectural quesitons, forms, and materials found a receptive audience among architects, so it was not unusual for her to be invited to participate in their programs. The 1970s and 80s, the period represented by *Drawing Ambience”, witnessed a cross-fertilization between art and architecture that is reflected in the exhibition and underscored here.
Miss took inspiration from functional structures. In an interview for a Brown University/Unversity of Rhode Island exhibition catalogue in 1981, she said, “I’m trying to pull out imagery that’s all around us, but that people just don’t use or even pay attention to.” The studies for “Falsework: Screen” give great insight into the sources for the thinking process behind the sculpture.
The dominant component of the piece, the tripartite screen, had its orgins in lattice balconies and what look like Italian church tower windows with perhaps a scaffolding. In another section of the study she comtemplates the “fairly eleborate construction/detail work” that we see behind the screen and maked notes to herself to look at Islamic architecture and a “strange wood storage box” at a lumber company on Long Island amoung other considerations. The pieces in the center of the floor are sketched in the center study where she also relays her memory of reading about “Sloping wooden platforms at which men and women are busy making rapid prostrations towards holy places.”
Her studies are, interestingly, a layering of sheets of various sizes that bring together thoughts from various sketchbooks or plans. The sclupture, too, is a layering of components that build a whole through our contemplation of their relationship. The sloping platforms direct our sights to the three-paneled mesh screen and more mysterious and complicated elements behind it. As viewers we layer memories of structures and experiences to build our own understanding of the work.