Edward Tufte: Seeing Around

June 13, 2009, to April 11, 2010

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum and Edward Tufte—one of the great visual minds of our time, described by The New York Times as “the Leonardo da Vinci of data” and by Business Week as “the Galileo of graphics” —have collaborated on a spectacular new exhibition.

Seeing Around, the first major museum exhibition of the sculpture of Edward Tufte, is on view in The Aldrich’s three–acre Sculpture Garden through April 17, 2010 and in the adjacent Project Space Gallery through January 13, 2010.

In the last ten years, the artist has completed fifty large–scale abstract outdoor installation artworks, one hundred table pieces, and numerous steel engravings and digital prints. His sculptures are constructed from stainless steel, weathered and rusting steel, road plate, scrap metal, discards from a nuclear power plant, and blacksmithing and mechanic’s tools. The complex geometries of the stainless pieces borrow, reflect, alter, and absorb nature’s light to create a multiplicity of beautiful color fields. The rusting, weathered artworks produce complex, multiple, and sometimes playful narratives.

Tufte’s monumental sculptures—including Larkin’s Twig, which stands 32 feet tall, and Rocket Science, which weighs 48,000 lbs—are partly a response to his own well–known books on analytical visual displays of data and information. Two–dimensional space—the flatlands of paper and the computer screen—inherently compresses and makes illusory the reality of the three–dimensional world. In contrast, outdoor sculpture provides endless and complex experiences of space, light, color, and airspace in nature’s full reality of three dimensions. Tufte’s outdoor artworks reside in the land, the trees, and the air. His essay on sculpture, Seeing Around, accompanies the exhibition.

For his exhibition at The Aldrich, Tufte has reconstructed the topography of the Museum’s Sculpture Garden to refine the relationships among the pieces, the sun’s position, and the local horizon. His new plantings of white pine, spruce, red cedar, and bamboo shape the garden’s space and provide natural backgrounds for the artworks.

Director Harry Philbrick says, “Meeting the challenges of presenting the unusual is the greatest strength of our exhibitions team at The Aldrich. Working with an artist like Edward Tufte to exhibit a facet of his work that is less well known than his celebrated work in two–dimensional, analytical design is exciting for us. We’re honored to host this beautiful and thoughtful exhibition. We are also grateful for the long term improvements and enhancements Edward has made to the Museum’s Sculpture Garden.”

The public were invited to meet the artist at an Exhibition Reception on June 21, when Edward Tufte gave a brief garden talk about the work on view.

On June 20, dancers Eiko and Koma gave a performance in the Sculpture Garden amidst Tufte’s large scale work for an Aldrich benefit, the Solstice Garden Party.

On Saturday, July 11, Tufte taught a short version of his famous course on visual thinking at The Ridgefield Playhouse, followed by an artist’s tour of Seeing Around at The Aldrich. This event was a benefit for The Aldrich, Flanders Nature Center and Land Trust, and the Ridgefield Conservation Commission.

ET Larkin's Twig 2 Installation from Edward Tufte on Vimeo.

Escaping Flatland Installation 2009 from Edward Tufte on Vimeo.

Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander) Installation at The Aldrich Museum, May 2009 from Edward Tufte on Vimeo.

additional images | click to enlarge



Edward Tufte: Seeing Around

Edward Tufte, Rocket Science, 2008
courtesy of the artist
©Edward Tufte



Edward Tufte: Seeing Around

Edward Tufte, partial installation view at The Aldrich, 2009
courtesy of the artist
©Edward Tufte



Edward Tufte: Seeing Around

Edward Tufte, Zerlina's Smile, 2008
courtesy of the artist
©Edward Tufte

The Artist:
Edward Tufte wrote, designed, and self–published four books on analytical design: The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, Envisioning Information, Visual Explanations, and Beautiful Evidence. The New York Times described Tufte as the “Leonardo da Vinci of data” and Business Week called him the “Galileo of graphics.” His artwork has been exhibited at Artists Space and The Drawing Center (New York) and the Architecture+Design Museum (Los Angeles).

Museum funding provided, in part, by the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Special thanks to the opening weekend event sponsors: Collyer Catering, Ridgefield Magazine, HSBC Bank, WSHU Public Radio, and the Harry Zarin Fund.

Edward Tufte, Skewed Machine, 2006
Courtesy of the artist
©Edward Tufte