In 1940, I studied with both Gyorgy Kepes and Will Burton – both Bauhaus refugees. It was then that I first became acquainted with Herbert Bayer's work. Eventually I met him when he was at the American Academy in Rome. We talked, and he came to visit me in Umbria.
At the time, I was helping design a friend's house in the small town adjacent to where I live. We were having problems with a skylight – an uneven triangle that rose above the roof into the sky. It disturbed the silhouette of the medieval building’s Trecento roofline. We were also trying use the opening of the skylight as an entrance to the roof, in order to convert the roof into a terrace.
We just couldn't solve the problem. Herbert did it for us. He designed a simpler smaller opening that gave the illusion of it being very much larger. His design allowed us to enter the space, but didn't in any way destroy the medieval feel of it all. He managed this in just a few minutes – making some quick drawings. It clearly gave him joy. And I now have the joy of seeing a Bayer solution every day I drive down the road to town here in Todi.
He was handsome, tall, very elegant – a gentleman. He was very easily creative. When he first came from Germany he had been a graphic designer, commercial artist and director of an advertising agency. By the time I met him, he was an architect and landscape designer. That was reassuring for me because I had studied industrial design and had been an art director in an advertising agency. If Herbert Bayer had no boundaries, then I, too, could live outside the box! He was extraordinarily calm. You could watch him think with his hands.
It was only recently that I realized, thinking back on when I was working on the Montlake landfill for the Earthworks: Land Reclamation as Sculpture project, how stimulated and inspired I was by his spirit and ideas. He used grass before any of us – and knew how to make mounds feel deeply mysterious: grass mountains, so earth-laden and earth-derived, and yet still feeling like they came from another planet. Looking back, I realize how much of an influence that sense of mystery exerted on my own use of material and making of shape – clearly, Herbert Bayer was an important influence on many land-art (earth) sculptors, as well as landscape architects.
He should be here to imagine the future with us now.
Born December 20, 1922, Beverly Pepper divides her time between her studios in New York and Italy. She is known for her site-specific and environmental works throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Among her most recent works, Pepper completed two Denver Monoliths, cast stone ll mt and 12 mter high, for The Denver Museum of Art, Denver Colorado; Sacramento Stele, 2000 which consists of four 6 meter high Pietra Serena stone sculptures created for the California Environmental Protection Agency; Manhattan Sentinels, a work created for New York City's Federal Plaza, consisting of four 12-meter high cast-iron columns; Sol I Ombra Park, a 35,000 square meter park in the city of Barcelona; Teatro Celle, a sculpture-theatre at the Fattoria Celle sculpture park, Pistoia, Italy; Gottano Community Park, in the city of Tokyo, Japan; and Palingenesis, a 100 meter cast-iron and grass environment in Zurich, Switzerland.
Throughout the years, she has received several awards and honors, among those: Doctor of Fine Arts, Pratt Institute; Doctor of Fine Arts, The Maryland Institute; Accademico Meritato, University of Perugia; Amic de Barcelona. Barcelona Spain; Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, France.
The works of Beverly Pepper have been exhibited and collected by major museums and galleries throughout the world including:
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo NY
The Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN
The White House Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, NY
The National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute
The San Francisco Museum of Art, San Francisco, CA
Centre George Pompidou, Paris, France
The Contemporary Sculpture Center, Tokyo, Japan
Palazzo degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy
The Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria
The Museum of Modern Art, Barcelona, Spain
The Wohl Rose Garden, Jerusalem
Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna, Rome, Italy
The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Canada
Forte Belvedere, Florence, Italy
Museum of Modern Art, Sapporo, Japan
Gardens of Palais Royal, Paris, France
Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts
She is represented by Marlborough Gallery in New York City.
1. Drawing for University of Washington Montlake Landfill Proposal, 1979.
2. Cromlech Glen," 2003. Stone, sod, 200ft diameter. Laumejier Sculpture Park, St. Louis, Missouri. (photo credit: Mike Venso)
3, 4. Details of University of Washington Montlake Landfill Proposal Model. 1979 (photo credit: Beverly Pepper)
5, 6. “Spazio Teatro Celle" Omaggio a Pietro Porcinai, 1987-92. Cast iron, earth, grass, terra cotta. 16 x 70 x 200ft. Pistoia, Italy. (photo credit: Carlo Fei)
7. Palengenesis, 1994-94. Cast iron, earth. 227 feet long. Zurich, Switzerland. (photo credit: Anne Lamunier)
8. Amphisculpture, 1974-75. Cement, grass. 8 x 270 x 14 ft. AT&T, Bedford, New Jersey (photo credit: Gianfranco Gorgoni)
9. Sol i Ombra, 1987-92 (Estracion del nord). Ceramic tile, cement, cast iron, earth, grass, trees. Urban park, 115,200 sq feet (35,000 meters). Barcelona, Spain. (photo credit: Pinco Gomez)
10. Sand Dunes, 1985. Mylar, wood. 100ft. New Smyrna Beach, Florida. (photo credit: Beverly Pepper)