Stata Center | 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

In my time taking computer science classes at MIT, I’ve spent countless hours in, at, and around the 30-numbered Vassar street buildings. Although I walked past artwork every day, I realized that I had never taken the time to really appreciate it, or learn some of the history of how it got there. This tour is the result of my and some of my CSAIL friend’s curiosity about our surroundings.

This tour was created by Claire Traweek, class of 2020. Traweek was a List Center student guide for four years.

Exiting the Stata Center, as you approach the open-air amphitheater built into the building’s exterior, you will find Aesop’s Fables II, a collection of red bars and cut metal that mirror the criss-cross of the surrounding Hockfield Court. Mark di Suvero’s sculptures dot parks and public spaces throughout America, but most people are unaware of his philosophy background. Some of his works are accompanied by philosophical musings. Aesop’s Fables was featured alongside Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz’s Sonnet 165 in a 1993 catalog. 

Sonnet 165

by Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651 – 1695)

Stay, shadow of contentment too short-lived,

illusion of enchantment I most prize,

fair image for whom I happily die,

sweet fiction for whom I painfully live.

If to your sweet charms attracted I submit,

obedient, like steel to magnet fly,

by what logic do you flatter and entice,

only to flee, a taunting fugitive?

‘Tis no triumph that you so smugly boast

that I fell victim to your tyranny;

though from encircling bonds that held you fast

your elusive form too readily slipped free,

and though to my arms you are forever lost,

you are a prisoner in my fantasy.

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.