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PRINT September 2019

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STEELED HEART

Beverly Pepper at an Italian foundry, ca. 1960s.

BEVERLY PEPPER’S TENSILE, totemic sculptures often register an acute sense of contingency. Over her nearly six-decade-long career—which has evaded recognition commensurate with her contributions to the development of public sculpture since its proliferation in the 1970s—the American-born, Italy-based artist has bodied forth a semiotics of flux, one playing out everywhere from the precarious angles of her cantilevered steel to her mutable surfaces of rusted iron.

Already established as a painter, Pepper turned to sculpture in 1960, following a transformative visit to Angkor Wat, where the sinewy banyan trees enwrapping Khmer statuary spurred a fascination with surface and interior. Just two years later, alongside Alexander Calder and David Smith, she was one of three American artists to be included in “Sculture nella città” (Sculptures in the City), the definitive outdoor-sculpture

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