In conjunction with the 94th birthday of iconic American sculptor Beverly Pepper, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is honored to announce the gift of Pepper’s expansive print and drawing archives to its permanent collection. Seven decades of work are included. The extraordinary gift from Pepper, one of the pioneering Contemporary sculptors, includes hundreds of drawings, prints, works on paper and notebooks – many containing sketches of her major sculptural endeavors. Meijer Gardens will become the repository of her two-dimensional legacy spanning her career, beginning in the 1950s.
Pepper is world-renowned for her work, which often incorporates industrial metals like iron, bronze, stainless steel and stone into sculptural of a monumental scale, but her vast drawing and print repertoire is lesser known. Although never formally associated with any particular “school”, her concern for abstraction and commitment to materials ran parallel to David Smith with whom she was very close, developing with those of Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero and Richard Hunt.
In his recent monograph on Pepper, the noted art historian Robert Hobbs writes, “an American living mainly in Italy since the 1950s and an artist with an enviable reputation beginning in the early 1960s, Beverly Pepper, together with the two “Louises” – Bourgeois and Nevelson- heads the list of outstanding American women sculptors achieving artistic maturity in the mid-twentieth century.”
“The enormity of Beverly Pepper’s gift cannot be understated,” said Joseph Antenucci Becherer, Chief Curator and Vice President of Meijer Gardens. “Drawing has been an integral part of her artistic practice, but like her printmaking, is little known even to scholars.” Meijer Gardens engagement with Pepper began with 2009 commission of the colossus, Galileo’s Wedge – an iconic work central to the world-renowned collection.”
“Over the last two decades, Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park has clearly demonstrated a strong commitment to my sculpture and I am enthusiastic to now have this major body of my work there.” said Pepper. “To have in one location a space to study, compare and sequence my drawings and prints is an exceptional opportunity; I am most grateful to leave this record and have the curatorial team there looking after my work.”
In honor of her remarkable gift and life, Meijer Gardens will be hosting a retrospective exhibition of work drawn from the archives in 2018. This exhibition will run from February 2 – April 19, 2018 and will display sketches, studies, prints, experimental drawings from across her entire career. These works will be on display in the Holton, Balk, and Bank of America Galleries. An on-line catalogue of the oeuvre is planned.
“The 2018 retrospective surveying sixty-five years of work is a rare luxury, and an unbelievable opportunity.” said Pepper.