Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX
Stake: aluminum, steel, resin, painted with polyurethane enamel
Rope: polyurethane foam, plastic materials, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, painted with latex
Stake with knot, upper floor: 13 ft. 6 in. x 18 ft. 2 in. x 14 ft. 7 in. (4.11 x 5.54 x 4.45 m)
Stake, lower floor: 12 ft. 9 1/2 in. x 5 ft. x 3 ft. (3.9 x 1.52 x 0.91 m)
Rope: 20 in. (0.51 m) diameter; length, knot to ceiling: 40 ft. (12.19 m)
Total height, including upper and lower floor: 53 ft. 6 in. (16.31 m)
Installed April 23-28, 1984
Inaugurated April 28, 1984
In 1981, we were commissioned to create a sculpture as part of a group of works to be permanently installed in a vast 45 foot high barrel-vaulted space in the center of the new Dallas Museum of Art, designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes. The artist Sol LeWitt was also asked to provide a large mural at one end of the vault.
The challenge, as we saw it, was to reach the upper area of the vault and link it to the rest of the room. We proposed a sculpture in the form of a "stake", sunk in the floor, to which a rope was tied that extended, in a long, taut curve into the ceiling of the vault. The imagined destination of the rope beyond the Museum added to the scale of the work and gave it an outdoor character. The part of the sculpture sunk into the floor remained mysterious as well: the bottom of the "stake" was executed in full detail but since the part occupied the Museum's receiving area, it was not available for public viewing. The sculpture in effect became a part of the architecture, a fact recognized both by Barnes and the director of the Museum, Harry Parker.
A sword-like, faceted geometric shape was developed for the "stake" freely based on a railroad spike, a tent peg or animal tether, made of aluminum roughened with a coating of epoxy. The "rope", which was likened to a tornado, was built up of ventilation ducts covered with foam "strands" sprayed with resin and chopped fiberglass finished in colorful enamels. 20 inches in diameter and about 150 feet long, the "rope" is voluptuously tied around the "stake" in a knot described as a Stake Hitch in Ashley's Book of Knots. It is fastened at the top as if to pass effortlessly through the ceiling.
The Stake Hitch was installed in 1984, but the project of a room devoted solely to large permanent works did not proceed any further. Instead, conventionally sized paintings from the Museum collection were hung on the walls of the room.
In June 2001, a new Director of the Museum, John Lane announced his plan to remove the Stake Hitch, which he considered an obstacle to "an active program of temporary exhibitions." We refused alternative sites for the sculpture, Coosje stating "The Stake Hitch was made for one site only and has no value elsewhere." Unfortunately a 1990 federal law making it difficult to remove site-specific works relates only to projects done after that date.
Despite its status as an icon of the Museum and one of the "Top Ten Treasures" in the permanent collection prominently featured in the guide to the Museum, and its identification as an icon of Dallas, the sculpture was removed on August 22. The Sol LeWitt mural remains in place and Museum officials have promised that the Stake Hitch would be re-installed for a year during the decade after its removal. At this moment in time, six years later, no plans have been announced for its re-installation.
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