by Megan Rossman
Image: figure 1, Alfonso Ossorio’s INxIT
Off the Wall: One Hundred Years of Sculpture occupies a relatively small space at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, but it’s nonetheless conspicuous and captivating. The exhibit, featuring work from twentieth and twenty-first century artists whose sculptures have been recognized as unconventional, includes more than twenty pieces from the museum’s permanent collection. Although the OKCMOA houses a year-round exhibit dedicated to glass sculpture artist Dale Chihuly, shows devoted entirely to sculpture are somewhat uncommon in its rotation.
Alexander Calder, David Smith, Frank Stella, and Lisa Hoke are among the big names on view, but the star among the standouts is Alfonso Ossorio’s 1968 piece INxIT. This chaotic hodgepodge of found materials mounted on a door and doorframe is simultaneously disturbing and whimsical and difficult to look away from. If the post-apocalyptic biker gangs from Mad Max pillaged Fraggle Rock, this could be the aftermath. This freestanding doorway of skulls, jaws, horns, and other organic materials strewn among glass eyes, marbles, and other candy-colored debris looks like the entry to a sovereign monster’s lair.
The Spirit-Spout by Frank Stella also is sure to catch visitors’ eyes. Made of aluminum, fiberglass, wood, and painted with oil and enamel, there’s an underlying sense of movement to this piece, despite its heaviness. That it’s an homage to Moby Dick makes sense. Although it’s striped with bold, distinctly non-marine colors, its curved shape and heft give it a whale-like appearance.
The pieces vary from metal works to collages created using product packaging, like Lisa Hoke’s Come on Down Oklahoma. Originally designed as art furniture in the 1960s, François Xavier-Lalanne’s many sheep designs enjoyed an international and influential following in their heyday. Xavier-Lalanne’s Moutons de Pierre—three sheep perched on pedestals at the center of the exhibit—are hard to miss, while, nearby, the work of local artist David L. Phelps depicts the upper body of a farm worker rising, larger than life, directly from the floor in Bailer.
This assorted collection of works highlights the imagination of sculptors and the evolution of materials employed over time.