Dennis Oppenheim: Splash Buildings November 8 2013 - October 26 2014
The behavior of a splash, increased in scale, presents a formidable structure; when considered, the rhythmic actions of both a falling and rising column of energy shows itself as a potential universal structure of enormous presence.
Dennis Oppenheim was a trailblazer in the earthwork, body art, performance, and Conceptual art movements of the 1960s and 70s. In the last decades, he was deeply engaged in making public art—large-scale sculptures that had to relate to the architecture of the real world in which they were placed. He described them as works that present “a parallel to the mental processing of a raw idea.” In Splash Buildings (2009) the raw idea is a sculpture that conveys the outcome of an event—in this case a drop of water splashing upwards, an ordinary occurrence taken to its exuberant limits—and displays the energy expended in this natural process.
Oppenheim was born in Electric City, Washington, in 1938. His father was an engineer and his mother encouraged his early interest in art. After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and an MFA from Stanford University, he moved to New York in 1966. In 1984 he established a house and studio in Springs, East Hampton. It would be difficult to describe a signature style in Oppenheim’s long and ever changing career and he was outspoken about his ability to shift rapidly from one idea to another. “Art should be a series of changes,” he told an interviewer in 2009; “One should avoid a continuum that simply services itself and does not allow entry of new courses to affect it.”