Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels
Metro-Dade Open Space Park, Miami
Steel, reinforced concrete, fiber reinforced plastic; painted with polyurethane enamel; stainless steel
Seventeen elements (eight bowl fragments, four peels, five orange sections), in an area approximately 16 ft. 9 in. x 91 ft. x 105 ft. (5.1 x 27.7 x 32 m)
Commissioned September 1984 by Metro Dade Art in Public Places Trust under Dade County's 1.5 Percent for Fine Art ordinance
Installed September 1989
Inaugurated March 30, 1990
Although we had included water as an element in our Gartenschlauch (Garden Hose), a sculpture for Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Germany, in 1982, we had not yet attempted a full fountain. The opportunity came with a commission from the Metro-Dade County Art in Public Places program in September 1984. Water seemed an especially appropriate subject for the city of Miami, to which we would add one of our favorite fruit subjects, the orange, also associated with the state of Florida.
The site was a wide area surrounded by an eclectic mix of architecture and highways. A centralized fountain in a circular shape surrounded by flagpoles, as projected in the landscape designer’s plans, did not seem to respond to the location. Coosje proposed instead an anti-hierarchical approach, consisting of forms scattered over the plaza. In reference to the conventional shape of a fountain, ours would be round, but resembling a broken plate, with the oranges deconstructed into slices and expressively cut peels. We thought that the jagged fragments would be more interesting if they came from a bowl, coincidentally a nod to a local institution, the football stadium known as the Orange Bowl. Trying out the idea on a model, Coosje dispersed the parts with abandon to introduce chance and irregularity into the orderly grid of the plaza. Cesar Trasobares, director of the Art in Public Places program, likened the effect to a piñata, which spills treasures in all directions when it is smashed. The flying slices, peels, and fragments of the bowl are caught as if in stop-motion, bouncing off the surfaces of the plaza. Pools in the shape of spilled liquid, large and small, were cut into the pavement beneath the sculptural pieces. Jets of water emerge from the pools, programmed at irregular heights and surprising intervals in repeated reenactments of the breaking bowl’s impact.
At the time of its inauguration the Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels could be seen to represent a city in the making, deriving its particular order out of the apparent disorder accompanying Miami's expansion.
Miami’s Art in Public Places, which had commissioned the Dropped Bowl with Scattered Slices and Peels, was asked to participate in the Triennale of Milan in 1988, with a contribution that would involve Frank O. Gehry, Ed Ruscha, and us, among other American artists and architects. We decided to feature a rather elaborate presentation model we had made of our Miami project, which would be realized the following year. Since the model seemed lost in the space of the exhibition hall, next to a portion of a ship by Gehry, we felt it needed a container of its own, a room within a room. Our thoughts went back in time to the earliest piece that had dealt with broken flying fragments, a model of which Coosje had once unearthed among discarded works at Broome Street. This image, of a plate of scrambled eggs breaking against a wall, in fact had served as a starting point for the design of the Dropped Bowl.
A version of the scrambled eggs model in large scale, its shards executed in flat aluminum silhouettes and its eggs in painted Styrofoam, was mounted onto a wood frame -- the interior of the room stripped down to its wooden studs -- through which both the scrambled eggs and the model of the Dropped Bowl could be seen from all directions. We tilted the room, leaning it up against the wall, making it appear as if the room itself had been thrown. The installation was donated to the Castello di Rivoli after the Triennale, where the open structure proved serendipitously functional in the setting of the castle rooms, admitting views of the historical murals as a background to the flying plates and scrambled eggs. (1)
1. Taken from an interview with Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen by Ida Gianelli: 'Solitude for Two, Shared: A Walk with Ida Gianelli', as printed in Claes Oldenburg Coosje van Bruggen: Sculpture By the Way. Castello di Rivoli, Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli-Torino, 2006, pp. 24, 29. Exhibition catalogue.
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