This enigmatic work in the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden is one of several spheres the artist created. His pierced spheres are found in the Vatican, the U.N., and many collections.
The artist studied goldsmithing, and uses metal to create a solidity that he breaks into various levels and forms. From discussions of his work I find that the one at the Vatican he is reputed to have described as showing the world contained by the outer sphere of Christianity.
The connection of reverence would be natural in its setting at the Church of Rome’s headquarters in the Vatican, commissioned by the Pope presiding at the time. The U.N. work is remarkably similar, but has no such connection. His spheres, found in several places, give a creative look at universal forms.
Using the basic shapes of cube, cylinder, and sphere, he tears open their pristine, highly polished surfaces to reveal the internal structure of form. Underneath the gleaming skin and solid flesh of the bronze lies a regulating machinery of cogs and gears, which Pomodoro calls “sign systems,” akin to the complex interlocking systems of language or of organic bodies. The sphere not only functions as a geometric shape and analogue of a living body or mineral form, but also suggests the globe of the earth. The equatorial rupture produces configurations suggesting land masses, and evokes the earth’s core and desiccated ocean beds. By eliminating frontality, Pomodoro invites the viewer to circle the globe, conveying a sense of uninterrupted rotational movement imitating the orbit of planets.
The form of broken spherical surfaces has been taken up by some less reverent audiences, and has some connections to science fiction circles. It also has been used by conspiracy theorists, who see a reflection of the New World Order mantra that so many connect to visions of a captured society under the influence of malevolent overlords.
The artist was born in Italy in 1926, has taught at Stanford, and established a foundation for display of his works, and his techniques. He has also done extensive work designing stage settings. He is particularly recognized for redesigning landmark scenes to make a small world of ‘dramatic alteration of familiar vistas’.
(Picture courtesy of fdecomite at flickr.com.)