Sculptures by Calder, Cabo, Gonzalez at Kykuit for 100th Anniversary

Three sculptures that left the collection at Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, in 1979 have returned to the six-story stone mansion’s subterranean art gallery. On loan for 2008 from the Museum of Modern Art, the works by Alexander Calder, Naum Cabo, and Julio Gonzalez are on display in homage of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Nelson A. Rockefeller, the former New York governor and United States Vice President, who lived at Kykuit from 1962 until his death in 1979.

A longtime patron of MoMA and collector of modern art, Gov. Rockefeller willed the sculptures to the museum where his mother, Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, was a founder.

The returning sculptures are:

• Spiny created in 1942 by Alexander Calder.

imagesIts forms resemble the long necks of llama or giraffes jockeying in a herd. Spiny served as the model for Large Spiny, which Calder executed for the lawns of Kykuit in 1964, where it still stands today.

• Linear Construction in Space No3, with Red, created in 1952-53 by Naum Gabo. Made of modern materials ‚Äî plexiglass, nylon wire, with a base of aluminum ‚Äî the arc-shaped forms turn on a central axis around triangular forms in the still center; taut nylon wire fans and twists to define and encompass space.

• Reclining Figure created in 1934 by Julio Gonzalez. This wrought iron sculpture is emblematic of his work in the 1930s: abstract in form but with a reference to the human figure that is always clear.

The public can view the sculptures, landscaped gardens, mansion, commanding Hudson River views, and more than 70 other pieces of modern art courtesy of the tours operated by Historic Hudson Valley.

Last year, Historic Hudson Valley began selling tickets to Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, online. Visitors, who can now book the exact tour time they want in advance, without worrying about arriving at the site only to find their preferred tour sold out, have embraced online ticketing.

"We had universally positive feedback last year," said Susan Greenstein, director of Historic Hudson Valley’s Kykuit program. "Online ticketing makes it so easy to visit us. I know it’s a big reason why we had such a successful year."

Besides Nelson’s birthday, 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the Rockefeller family’s residency at Kykuit, which served as home to four generations of the family.

While Kykuit was being built in the first decade of the 1900s, noted architect and designer William Welles Bosworth set to work creating the site’s formal garden plan. Though kept largely intact, the gardens were eventually entirely transformed by Nelson Rockefeller, who placed 70 pieces of outdoor sculpture throughout the grounds, enhancing Bosworth’s creation. Besides Calder, there are works by Henry Moore, Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti, Isamu Noguchi, Aristede Maillol, and David Smith, among many others.

The modern collection provides sharp contrast to Bosworth’s classical sculptures, such as the towering Oceanus fountain that greets visitors in the house’s forecourt. Oceanus, a symbol of the universal power of water, is a 1913 Italian replica of the Giambologna original circa 1575 fountain that resides at the Pitti Palace in Florence.

Ticket prices for Kykuit tours range from $21-$38; $13-$28 for Historic Hudson Valley members or members of the National Trust.

All tours start at the Kykuit Visitor Center at Philipsburg Manor, another historic museum operated by Historic Hudson Valley, at 381 North Broadway (Route 9) in Sleepy Hollow. Doors open at 9 a.m.

Historic Hudson Valley is a network of six historic sites in Sleepy Hollow Country and the Great Estates region. Besides Kykuit and Sunnyside, the non-profit organization owns and operates Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Tarrytown, the Union Church of Pocantico Hills; Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, and Montgomery Place in Annandale-on-Hudson.

For more information about each of the Rockefeller estate tours and all Historic Hudson Valley has to offer, log on to www.hudsonvalley.org, or call 914-631-8200 Ext. 618 to speak with the reservations department.

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About the Author: Rob Schweitzer