Tom Friedman's Circle Dance Installed on The Walk

November 30, 2012

Tom Friedman's Cirlce Dance (2010)

Credit: Ian Alden Russell

The Corporation of Brown University has accepted a gift from an anonymous donor of a life-size stainless steel sculpture by American artist Tom Friedman. Modeled after Henri Matisse's painting La Danse, the sculpture Circle Dance will reside at the Waterman end of the grassy public space between Waterman and Angell streets along The Walk. Installation should be completed on Friday, Nov. 30, 2012.

Friedman, a conceptual artist, is known for his use of everyday materials in order to create cerebral, witty pieces. He crafted the maquette for Circle Dance out of aluminum turkey roasting pans. Hints of the original material can be spotted throughout the final version, which is cast in stainless steel, with imprints of the words “bottom” and the pans’ manufacturer remaining visible. Measuring 22 feet in diameter and weighing 3,200 pounds, the sculpture depicts 11 life-size figures holding hands and dancing in a circle, a formation similar to the one in the Matisse painting.

Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Art Gallery and a member of the Public Art Committee, which has overseen the acquisition and will manage the installation of Circle Dance, calls the work a “playful, joyous sculpture,” and says it was those qualities that appealed to the donor as well. According to Conklin, the donor, an avid art collector, bought the piece from a gallery in London after seeing it and “falling immediately in love with it.”

Conklin says that this latest acquisition is an exciting one for the Public Art Committee. “The Public Art Committee is interested in building a collection through our commissioning process and other activities. Friedman is a very important contemporary American sculptor and we are delighted to add his work to the collection.”

Conklin believes the playfulness of the work will also resonate with the Brown community. “I think it will be very popular. I imagine students putting hats on it, posing next to it as they do with the bear on the College Green, maybe sitting against it, lying down inside it. It will definitely be hard to miss. Made of shiny stainless steel, it’s going to draw a lot of attention.

Installation of Circle Dance will begin Monday, Nov. 26, 2012, weather permitting, with the arrival of the sculpture on a flatbed truck from a foundry in Rock Tavern, N.Y. A crane will hoist the work, which will arrive in two pieces, from Olive Street, where the truck will be parked, to its place along The Walk. The Public Art Committee will convene shortly after its arrival to determine final placement. After that, a hole will be dug and concrete footings poured to provide an anchor. Final installation, after the concrete sets, is scheduled to take place Friday, Nov. 30.

Tom Friedman is a contemporary sculptor whose career has spanned more than three decades. Known for transforming mundane materials such as toothpicks or sugar cubes into intricate works of art, Friedman has exhibited in major museums throughout the world, including solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute in Chicago. In 2000, a career retrospective traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Yerba Buena Centre for the Arts, San Francisco; and the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York.

According to Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery and member of the Public Art Committee: “I think it will be very popular. I imagine students putting hats on it, posing next to it as they do with the bear on the College Green, maybe sitting against it, lying down inside it. It will definitely be hard to miss. Made of shiny stainless steel, it’s going to draw a lot of attention.”