I've been a fan of Storm King Art Center's embellished landscape since I was twenty, a trip inspired by a professor who chased me down after class to tell me all about it. I recall that first visit, an installation by Ursula von Rydingsvard and a team of assistants were actively chainsawing one of her large sculptures. I loved the idea of art made in, of, by or for the landscape.
Above is a sculpture by Barnett Newman, a sculpture that takes advantage of Cor-Ten steel -its red rust inserted here into a haze of lush greenery. You will find the contrast of rust and vegetation again and again at Storm King and most sculpture parks, but rarely done as well as Newman's 'Broken Obelisk.' Its siting lays bare an intimate dialogue between Modernist geometry and formal Wilderness, a contrast more surprising than Houston's Rothko Chapel siting (admittedly, one I have not seen in person), and a work worth experiencing as much as any other at Storm King. Its power resides in its planes concentrated at the point between two pyramidal forms, one darkened in shadow and the other lit by the sun. The work displays exceptional poise, balanced as it is at this point, but its formal grace is interrupted by the jagged, "broken" top plane which roughly mimics the angle of the base pyramid, forging an undecipherable relationship between the grounded pyramid and the precariously balanced, broken obelisk. That uneven, broken edge disturbs the precisely manifested union, threatening to topple the obelisk. The implicit movement creates an experience of inherent kineticism, a monument about to fall.
In the southern reaches of the five hundred acre campus is one of Storm King's few projects that actually is formed out of the land -Maya Lin's "Storm King Wavefield." Here a sea of grass becomes an illusion of fluid rumpled by the transference of energy through it, a display that would be menacing if its artifice wasn't so apparent. The waves have direction and when seen from below, they subtly evoke the surrounding mountains. Lin's interested in wave forms, although concocted from scientific observations and technological means, generate an abstraction that is most analogous to a raked zen garden. The view from the amphitheater encourages this comparison because it enables you to take in the whole field, much as we view a zen garden as a whole, from the outside.
But when drainage permits, visitors are given access (we were not) to the field, offering an uncanny experience of a landscape of perpetual, immobile waves. One can travel the length of peak or valley, or tack diagonally, cresting and falling with each "swell" so that we become the motion to a fixity of earthen waves.