In spring 2009, Dumbarton Oaks inaugurated an occasional series of contemporary art installations intended to provide unexpected experiences and fresh interpretations of its gardens and collections. The first artist selected was the American sculptor Charles Simonds, who is well known for clay sculptures that document the wanderings of a fantastical civilization of Little People whose landscapes, architectures, and rituals have been imagined by the artist since the early 1970s. The outcome was a project that spanned the whole institution. A wide range of his current sculptures—some architectural, some figural, and some evocative of landscape, most preexisting but one made especially for the exhibition—was installed between May and October 2009 in various spaces at Dumbarton Oaks.
Landscape Body Dwelling documents and reflects on the installation. Essays by Ann Reynolds and Germano Celant situate it within the broader context of Simond’s artistic career, while essays by John Beardsley and Joanne Pillsbury detail the often surprising connections between the exhibited works, the garden elements, and the permanent collections at Dumbarton Oaks. Richly illustrated with photographs of the installation, this volume demonstrates how contemporary culture connects us with the past, reinvigorating historical tropes while enlivening the institutions that continue to speak them.