Maria Nordman

Born in 1943 in Görlitz (DE)
Lives and works in Santa Monica, California (US)

Vitis Vinifera

Black marble slab, velin paper
206 x 167 x 24 cm
Year of Purchase: 1991

‘The city starts with the structure of the landscape and the realities of its inhabitants at the moment when the debate is taking shape among them.’1

The city comes about through the overlay of stone and plan, as meetings of forms and ideas, people and objects. Maria Nordman constructs ‘contexts’ by means of confrontations between environment and onlooker, between the different parts and materials, between resonance and transparence, between…
Vitis Vinifera can be seen as an open place, an encounter materialized by the reflection of forms on the different surfaces of the work. The simplicity of the structure—a large sliding drawer protecting marble and vellum—, the purity of the materials, the arrangement and mobility of the parts in space, come across right away as both style and content, and introduce the overall perception of a spatial configuration as a primordial actor of the artistic act.
The title refers to the antiquity and origin of the city, referring to the fruit tree, the garden—place of glowing beauty suitable for communion with the gods—depicted by Jan van Eyck in the polyptych Adoration of the Mystic Lamb (Ghent, Saint Bavon). By thus using the reference, Nordman introduces discourse as an element of interpretation and recognition which is an integral part of the work. The printed urban plan is part of this same grasp of language; it refers to Antwerp as much as any other city. The graphic and linguistic sign here is a structuring element seen as much for what resonates in it as for what it explicitly expresses. It is a project opening onto new urban situations, for the same reasons that publications of sculpture books are latent works.
Working in the urban space (park, fountains, streets, entrance, museum…), Maria Nordman addresses the environment of the inhabitants, by setting up within it moveable objects which are subject to the continuous play of light and colour, plans for meetings, structural alterations of spaces in several places, and in time, parasitic constructions… These works reveal the spatial nature of urban exchanges, their functionality, their mobility and their influence on social behavioural patterns. Light is the crucial factor, vital to their differentness; in it, space is achieved and transformed in relation to perspective. Its changing character creates an open place that is mutating, an often imperceptible bond, the obvious sculptural nature of which loads the form perceived with an essential materiality.

Maïté Vissault

1 Maria Nordman, Chartres, Museum of Fine Art, 1990.