Mark Di Suvero

Mark Di Suvero

Aesop's Fables, II, 2005

Painted steel


142 in. x 420 in. x 166 in. (360.68 cm x 1066.8 cm x 421.64 cm)

Made possible through the generosity of the artist, gifts from Vera G. List and the Family of Robert S. Sanders, MIT ‘64, and by MIT Percent-for-Art Funds for the Northeast Sector Landscape

Mark di Suvero is best known for his architecturally-scaled, abstract sculptures fabricated from industrial building materials. Created from steel plates and I-beams and painted red, di Suvero and his crew assembled Aesop’s Fables II on site using plasma cutters, welding torches, and cranes. Di Suvero does not conceal the bolted joints or welded areas of his sculptures, opting instead to emphasize his materials and methods of fabrication. Connected by a single I-beam, the two main components of Aesop’s Fables II are spatially and materially connected but they also are formally distinct. One component is composed of five interlocking I-beams, joined to form dynamic angles that seem to recall the gestural compulsions of abstract expressionism. The second component, which is built with curved steel plates, seems grounded in hard-edge geometric abstraction. Negative space and implied movement feature prominently in both components and the sprawling ground that they occupy. In Aesop’s Fables II, different shapes and spaces emerge from each viewing angle and distance, compelling viewers to consider their own position and size in relation to the surrounding architectural environment.

A founding member of the New York’s Park Place Group and Socrates Sculpture Park, di Suvero has made enduring contributions to modern sculpture and has been a pioneering advocate for community-oriented and accessible public art. Aesop’s Fables II is installed on Hockfield Court, a site immediately adjacent to Frank Gehry’s Stata Center, which is vital to MIT and the surrounding community. The prominent location and striking form have rendered Aesop’s Fables II a Cambridge landmark.

Building Number: Northeast Sector Lawn

Accession Number: 2005.008

Audio Transcript

Former List Public Art Curator, Patricia Fuller describes Aesop's Fables, II, by Mark di Suvero, purchased with MIT's funds for the Northeast sector landscape.

It's really important to walk around sculpture, and if you can, underneath it and behind it. And really get the sense of it from different angles, different distances, different perspectives because it's not a static image.

You're meant to see the shifting plains and the shadows, and the color in motion as you move.

Di Suvero came of age as an artist in the 1950s, just as abstract expressionism was blooming and assumptions of what sculpture should be were shifting. At his first gallery show, di Suvero featured sculptures built from found and salvaged materials, leading one critic to observe, "from now on, nothing will be the same."

Unlike traditional modes of sculpture such as carving and casting in bronze or metals, these works are really assembled. If you look carefully at the sculpture, you can see the individual pieces and the method of how they're joined. You can see the welds, you see the bolts. They're not concealed. They are part of the sculpture.

As with his 2005 work, di Suvero builds the sculptures full scale, piece by piece.

Di Suvero has said sculpture starting out as a marquette or model, then fabricated to order from the foundry has the smell of a souffle about it. In other words, it's not direct.