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River House

1980 William Christenberry Born: Tuscaloosa, Alabama 1936 Died: Washington, District of Columbia 2016 wood, construction board, paperboard, metal, and dirt 23 3/4 x 16 1/2 x 14 in. (60.3 x 41.9 x 35.5 cm.) Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Benjamin P. Nicolette 1994.92 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 4th Floor, 49B

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River House

Luce Center Quote

“I have fond memories of that building.” William Christenberry, interview, December 2005

Luce Center Label

William Christenberry bases most of his sculptures on structures that he has seen and photographed in his native Alabama. River House, on the other hand, recalls the artist’s “evocative feeling of a childhood memory” of fishing on the Black Warrior River in West Central Alabama. After spending a lazy morning catching catfish, Christenberry and his father often docked at this riverbank restaurant to enjoy Vienna sausages, crackers, and Coca-Cola. The red soil, which Christenberry collects on his yearly trips home, draws an immediate connection between the artwork and the Alabama landscape of the artist’s youth. For Christenberry, memorializing this scenery is an act of ownership. “If I can’t possess the real thing,” he explains, “I’m going to make something that comes pretty close.” (Interview with the artist, December 20, 2005)


Architecture Exterior - commercial - grocery

Architecture Exterior - detail - stairs

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sculpture - assemblage



wood - balsa wood

wood - linden