Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT

Edward Tufte – Larkin’s Twig 2- February, 2009

This sculpture exhibit at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT was an Edward Tufte steel sculpture that was installed at the museum in February, 2009. Below is the YouTube version of the installation process at the museum:


Upon entering the museum and paying the admission fee, I was then told that no photos could be taken within the museum, but photos could be taken of the sculptures on the grounds outside the building. So I took my camera outside and took a number of pictures of the exhibits on the wet, slushy grounds. Even though the weather was cloudy and threatening rain, I managed to get in quite a few pictures.

Before entering the museum I was able to capture the dog sculptures below:

After research of the above sculptures, I found that they represented Porto the Dog, Series of 5, 2009. Porta is a Portuguese Water Dog and the dog’s ball is a circular disc all made of thick steel plate. As this served as a precursor of the sculpture work of Edward Tufte, I was intrigued by the Twig sculpture as I entered the grounds in the back of the museum.

The Twig sculpture is the second one built and erected by Edward Tufte. The first one, called Larkin’s Twig, was built in 2004 made of steel and measured 10 meters or 32 feet in height and replicated here at the Aldrich Art Museum. Through my research of this sculpture I saw several video clips on the building of this structure as well as the installation of both pieces, one of which is listed above for the Aldrich Art Museum.

Further research took me to another avenue of sculpture which is not only the three-dimensional reality of each piece, but that sculpture pieces also cast shadows. Even though the weather was cloudy and I could not capture this actually occurring, I was able to view a video through time lapsed photography. I found that through this photography that it captured the shadows moving throughout the day into different shapes and movements. Because of its substantial size of the twigs made of steel, I was able to follow the shadowy structure laying down abstract visual geometric pictures on the ground.

Larkin's Twig: shadow studies (time-lapse video): http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00017D&topic_id=1 Edward Tufte, November 26, 2008

Also as I continued my research, I found that not only were there visual pictures on the ground, but as you observed the structure as you looked upward and as you walked around, you could see several different geometrical effects as shown below:

What also drew me to the fascination with this piece of sculpture was all the detail that went into designing the piece. For example, Edward Tufte in October, 2006 posted the following informational blog to his building of the first Larkin’s Twig:

Below, a sketch left over from the making of Larkin's Twig at Tallix. Shown is the original 14-inch twig, with estimates of footprint size when built.

-- Edward Tufte, October 26, 2006

As you can see, a lot of mathematical configuration came into play such as the placement of the geometrical figure leading to the dimensions of the final triangular layout of the completed structure (66’ 44” x 69’ 6” x 58’ 9”). I could have brought a tape measure to test out the final layout for myself, but that is only an afterthought and maybe upon another visit, I might just do that.

Edward Tufte’s biography includes that he was born on March 14, 1942 in Kansas City, Missouri. He was raised and went to school in Beverly Hills, CA in the 1960’s. He attended Stanford University where is obtained a BS and MS in statistics and received a PhD in political science from Yale where he taught. He has written several books which include the following titles:

• The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
• Political Control of the Economy
• Data Analysis for Politics and Policy
• Size and Democracy (with Robert A. Dahl)

He has also written countless number of articles and research papers as well as videos and network threads regarding his artwork. He also holds several fellowships among which are from the American Statistical Association, Guggenheim Foundation and the Center for Advanced Studies in Behavioral Sciences. He also founded the Graphics Press of Cheshire, CT in 1983. He currently resides in Cheshire, CT and currently presents one-day workshops throughout the United States.

In conclusion, what drew me to this piece of art was the initially simple structure of the sculpture of the Twig 2, but upon further research found that it started out as a simple idea of a twig in itself which turned into a very complex making it a sculptural piece of art. With all the geometrical and mathematical concepts that were involved with producing this metal fabrication of sculpture it made a very complex piece of art with several visual observations which took you different levels of amazement. That is what made this a truly remarkable piece of art by Edward Tufte.

Work Citied:
Author Stream: www.edwardtufte.com
Art Inventories
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum: www.aldrichart.org


  1. I'm so glad you made it to the Aldrich... that is close to where I live in West Redding... I visit there often... Edwarde Tufte certainly has made an impact on the outdoor sculpture garden... His commitment to producing this show with an attitude of "whatever it takes" is nothing short of astonishing.

    His work is in a sense, a throwback to an ideal of beauty, simplicity and truth. Twig 2 could not be simpler, yet at the same time, it is quite profound. Much like the sense one gets upon entering a cathedral... that we are small as humans and there are forces at work that are bigger than we are....

    Good job at tracking down his website and looking further into what he has been up to for the past few years.

  2. Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.
    Contemporary Art