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Bird in Space

1989 Liz Larner Born: Sacramento, California 1960 nylon cord, silk thread, stainless steel approx. 12 x 28 3/4 x 19 ft. Smithsonian American Art Museum Gift of Susan and Leonard Nimoy and museum purchase in part through the Gene Davis Memorial Fund © 1989, Liz Larner 2002.46 Not currently on view

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Larner wove two curving planes of fibers that define the space around them in different ways, depending on where the viewer stands. Her work makes us reconsider what sculpture is. There is no weight, no solid mass, and no pedestal. The title refers to an abstract work by Constantin Brancusi from the 1920s, a sleek metal shape that seems to rise from its marble base, breaking free of old notions of sculpture.

Larner's installation finishes what Brancusi started. Instead of a self-contained object, we see a shifting form that appears to be taking off and dissipating in the air. The nylon and silk threads are like lines drawn through space, as though an idea jotted down in a sketchbook had materialized, however briefly, in the gallery.

Exhibition Label, Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2006