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Wooden Lakes: The Sculpture of Maya Lin
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A perspective-changing group show, “Of a Different Nature” is on view at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York City and features the work of El Anatsui, Bernd and Hilla Becher, and these unbelievable wood sculptures by famed monument designer and artist Maya Lin.

Maya Lin, Caspian Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Caspian Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

In these 2006 sculptures, Maya Lin captures the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, and the Red Sea in exaggerated reverse topographical maps of birch plywood, each appearing to balance on a white pedestal. To create the forms, Maya worked with Benchmark Maps to obtain the information, which she then exaggerated 200 times vertically and had laser-cut. The burnt edges echo the dark depths of the lakes while the untouched raw plywood surface collapses into pure two-dimensionality.

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), detail, 2006

Maya Lin, Black Sea (Bodies of Water series), detail, 2006

Maya Lin, Red Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Red Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Red Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Maya Lin, Red Sea (Bodies of Water series), 2006

Each lake is a beautiful convergence of art and science, but taken together within the gallery, they collectively transform the air itself, suggesting a chest-level horizon line.

The added joy of this group exhibition is the intersection within this invisible landscape of two additional artists: El Anatsui and the late Bernd & Hilla Becher.

Of a Different Nature, Jach Shainman Gallery, installation

Of a Different Nature, Jack Shainman Gallery, installation

El Anatsui, Delta, 2014

El Anatsui, Delta, 2014

El Anatsui’s liquor bottle cap sculptures were featured here in 2013. Now drained of color, Anastui’s recent work incorporates countless squares of discarded aluminum printing plates. Within this exhibition, they take on new and greater complexity, resembling maps, streams, and the surface of the ocean itself.

El Anatsui, Metas II, 2014

El Anatsui, Metas II, 2014

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Water Towers, 2011

Bernd and Hilla Becher, Water Towers, 2011

Photographs by Bernd and Hilla Becher again reference water, like this 2011 series of New York water towers. The images however, like the entity of the show, feel less about “water” and more about the “space between”, both the imagined distance within the gallery, and the actual distance in the world at large.

“Of a Different Nature”, like each of Maya Lin’s incredible lakes, is a reminder (and perhaps a warning) of just how big, and small, out world really is.

Of a Different Nature, Jach Shainman Gallery, installation

Of a Different Nature, Jack Shainman Gallery, installation

What: Of A Different Nature: El Anatsui, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Maya Lin
Where: Jack Shainman Gallery, 513 W 20th St, NYC
When: February 4 – March 12, 2016

All images of Maya Lin’s “Bodies of Water series”: ©Maya Lin Studio, courtesy Pace Gallery.
Images of El Anatsui sculptures: ©El Anatsui. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York. 
Image Bernd & Hilla Becher photographs: Courtesy of the artist and Yossi Milo Gallery.

David Behringer visits over 200 galleries every month to uncover and share the most exciting contemporary art in New York today. Subscribe to his exclusive weekly newsletter at www.thetwopercent.com and learn about his private gallery tours. And be sure to check out his YouTube.