Last week I visited the Grounds For Sculpture, a 42-acre sculpture park and museum located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey (just outside of Trenton). Founded in 1992 by sculptor and philanthropist John Seward Johnson, grandson of Robert Wood Johnson, who is one of the co-founders of the global pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. Seward Johnson’s vision was to make contemporary art more accessible to people from all backgrounds. Nowadays, the Grounds house over two hundred large-scale contemporary sculptures, with works by Johnson and other international artists.
Visiting the Grounds for Sculpture is a great way to spend a day in a beautiful green setting—surrounded by sculptures, like a labyrinth with surprises around each corner. Enjoy my photo impression of the Grounds with all the colorful fall foliage framing these sculptures.
A Little Side Step into Art History
Another reason you may want to visit the Grounds could be to see the world through the eyes of famous painters. You experience being in another world where scenes of characters and landscapes of famous paintings have come to life.
I find it so moving to watch people interact with these sculptures. That is one thing that these pieces do — they invite an intimacy with the paintings that the paintings themselves don’t allow simply due to the limitation of scale, depth and access.Seward Johnson
In Seward Johnson’s series “Beyond The Frame”, which is based upon masterpieces from the Impressionist period by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Van Gogh and others, Johnson creates a sculptural experience of these paintings. Since I love the artwork of the French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926), I’d like to highlight two of his paintings that inspired Seward Johnson.
Another sculpture by Seward Johnson is Confrontational Vulnerabilty (2011) inspired by Edouard Manet’s Olympia (1863).
“Manet’s painting, which shows a nude woman (Olympia) lying on a bed being brought flowers by a black servent, was controversional. What shocked wasn’t Olympia’s nudity, but her confrontational gaze and a number of details identifying her as a prostitute (orchid in her hair, her bracelet, pearl earrings and the oriental shawl on which she lies, symbols of wealth and sensuality). “Olympia” was a name associated with prostitutes in 1860s Paris. “Olympia” was modelled by Victorine Meurent, Manet’s favourite model, also a French painter and a famous model for painters”. 1
Manet’s Olympia (1863) was inspired by Titian’s Venus of Urbino (1538), which in turn refers to Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus (1510).
It’s fascinating to see how Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus has inspired many artist through the centuries. I couldn’t wait to start my own painting. So here it is. .. my inspiration of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus!
“Mom, why isn’t she wearing a shirt? Why did you only use one color? Did you forgot the colors?” And finally she gave me the advice to finish the drawing by adding more colors—in particular, a colorful shirt and pants!My Daughther (5)