Nestled on 500 acres in the lower Hudson Valley of New York state lies (lay?) the undulating hills of Storm King Mountain, where a majestic open-air museum sits in Mountainville. For fifty years, this unassuming treasure has been celebrated as one of the world’s leading sculpture parks.
Filled with woodlands, wildflowers and lush, native meadow grasses like switchgrass, bluestem, purple top tridens, Canadian wild rye, and sideoats grama grass. The grass, hearkening back to landscapes of the Romantic Hudson River School is such an integral part of Storm King that a “tall grass program” has been implemented for over nineteen years by landscape architects.
Storm King Art Center’s distinguished collection comprises more than 100 sculptures by some of the most acclaimed artists of our era such as Alexander Calder, Claes Oldenburg, Louise Bourgeois, Bruce Nauman, Nam June Paik and more. Works at Storm King encompass the years from post-World War II to the present. It obvious that the curators focused on large-scale abstract sculpture. Towering in the meadows, almost looming behind leaves, stand steel anaglyphs, different from all angles, and giant mechanical simulacra like faux oil rigs across Texas. The collection also includes figurative work and sculpture in stone and earth itself.
A strange sort of time travel occurs when leaving NYC and traveling north. One passes the remnants of colonial America, its first battlegrounds, Fort Montgomery, tollroads on cliff-sides. One arrives at the park and encounters sculptures like extraterrestrials trying to communicate their nature through objects, or like ruins from an ancient civilization whose language we have lost.
Although Storm King was originally envisioned as a museum devoted to Hudson River School, by 1961 its founders had become committed to modern sculpture, and whatever the evolution of that terms mean. Every work is situated with consideration of both its immediate surroundings and distant views, as if the artwork was meant to be one with the land all along.