Mark di Suvero's "For Mother Teresa"
Cranbrook Academy of Art
Bloomfield Hills, MI
from my 2005 archive
Mark di Suvero's "Pyramidian"
Storm King Art Center
Mountainville, NY
from my 2008 archive

Mark di Suvero's work (Title Unknown) in courtyard of MoMA PS1 Museum
Long Island City, NY from my 2007 archive

Mark di Suvero's "The Calling"
(adjacent to Milwaukee Art Museum)
Milwaukee, WI
from my 2009 archive
exterior of Mark di Suvero's Studio
(adjacent to Socrates Sculpture Park)
Long Island City, NY
from my 2010 archive

March 5, 2011


The Sculptor, Mark di Suvero was honored on March 2nd at the White House (by the President himself!). He received the National Medal of Arts. Can it get any better for an artist? Well--maybe getting the MacArthur "Genius Award" (and the $500,000 that comes with it), but getting an award from the President is a BIG deal. What an honor.

I first learned of Mark di Suvero in 2005 at a lecture he gave at Cranbrook Academy of Art. Not only did I find (and still find) his work impressive; I was touched by his story. He was born in China in the 1930's as Marco Polo Levin. His family later moved to California and he then eventually found his way to New York. Fast forward to the 1960's and he was paralyzed in a freight elevator accident. Through rehabilitation (and I imagine a strong will) he was able to walk again. His artwork requires such physical strength in its making due to its scale and materials that I cannot imagine how he does it. My guess is through an intense passion and commitment to his work.

Across cities in the U.S. and in many other countries, you will find a Mark di Suvero sculpture. Each sculpture is unique in its own right, and it becomes easy to spot "a di Suvero" after you become acquainted with his work. Some of his works are interactive (you can play them with a mallet or sit and swing on them) while others have pieces that move/sway with the wind. The latter you notice when you stare intently and patiently. His sculptures are beautiful and a little scary. If you have ever stood underneath one, you know what I mean. Although he uses incredibly heavy materials such as steel, there is still an intimacy to his work. The massive steel beams are welded and bolted together in a way that allows the work to become visually lightweight.

Last year, I had the fortune of spotting Mark di Suvero when I walked past his studio en route to the sculpture park he founded. I only saw him for a few seconds through a large open door as he went up a scissor lift. I wonder what he was working on...