Beverly Pepper

What overwhelms at first sight with Beverly Pepper is the natural propensity for monumentality innate in her work, extending from its interior with a limitless capacity for expansion. Also overwhelming, secondly, is the choice of materials:  hard, strong, powerful, and, I would say, virile. Thus, in analyzing the Pepper’s work, one cannot proceed without these two primary indications, monumentality and choice of materials. A famous and celebrated artist, legions of critics and academics worldwide have written about her, exalting her unique ability to adapt and organize sites and space, of which she says: “I have the impression that when my work functions, it succeeds not only to emphasize an emotion, but also extend itself into the landscape and amplify the external environment.” It is exactly this interaction with the external environment that informs all of Beverly Pepper’s work. Starting with painting, she later chose the more difficult and complicated road of sculpture. Initially drawn to welded steel, she subsequently came to mirror-finished stainless steel, conceived with a greater physical and enduring sensibility. Here, the harsh, rough nature of the material gives form and impulsive energy to the emotive feeling of the sculpture, which in powerful overtones, is contained in both her indoor and outdoor work. I had the good fortune to collaborate with Beverly at her extensive exhibition at Forte Belvedere in Florence:  perhaps, along with the one of Moore, the most beautiful exhibition ever held in that location. It is an enchanting space, elevated above the city; but is a difficult one; for the panorama annihilates and diminishes any object compared with it, regardless of its size. The exhibition was a memorable event, amplified by the capacity of her sculptures to become one with the surrounding environment, to the point of seeming to have been born and always existed in that space. Her ability to organize space and to speak with the environment allows her, yet again, to win a difficult and impenetrable battle, as she had many years before with her works erected in the Federal Plaza in New York. Of this she says, “I wanted these works to come from another time and from another place…to create the impression that they had been there prior to the construction of any of the buildings surrounding them. I wanted to attribute a memory to a place that had none…that has nothing to do with the present location.” These two examples, Florence and New York, in my opinion, are emblematic of all of the work and research she has continued to develop throughout the years, with resolution and tenacity, to the point of placing her, rightfully, among the greatest protagonists in sculpture of our time.