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Huge Conrad Shawcross Sculpture Installed At Atheneum

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford on Thursday added a new sculpture to its growing collection of outdoor art.

Conrad Shawcross’ “Monolith (Optic)” is a 20-foot-tall work of faceted steel that captures and refracts light, sometimes seeming to be solid and at other times transparent.

It is a smaller-scale version pf a 160-foot-tall piece that Shawcross built in London. That one was constructed to hide the chimney of an unsightly industrial building.

Shawcross said the piece, removed from that masking use, can be appreciated as an exercise in perception, which varies as the light changes during the day.

“It sort of disappears, like an industrial lace. You don’t know what to think. You have to give it more thought,” he said. “It has the cloak of the rational to get people to engage in something more profound. It engages people on different levels.”

The sculpture is part of an exhibit inside the museum that opened Thursday, which includes additional sculptures, models, related drawings and a light artwork. The show, “Conrad Shawcross / MATRIX 179,” marks the U.S. debut of the British artist. The indoor show will be on view until Sept. 9.

Patty Hickson, the museum’s curator of contemporary art, said the outdoor sculpture will be on the west lawn of the Morgan Memorial wing for three years.

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