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Tuesday August 25, 2015 | by Lindsay Woodruff

Doug and Mike Starn create site-specific glass public artwork for Princeton University

A large-scale sculpture by identical twins Doug and Mike Starn, the duo's second-ever work in glass, will be installed in mid-September on the lawn of the Princeton University Art Museum. The site-specific sculpture, titled (Any) Body Oddly Propped (2015), features steel, cast bronze trees and six 18-foot tall colored glass panels. According to the official announcement, the sculpture “continues the artists' exploration of organic energy systems through root and branch forms that here also respond to the arboretum-like character of the Princeton campus.” An attempt to evoke the complex experience of light filtering through trees, the sculpture will play off the contrast between the permanence of the structure and the ephemerality by interaction between natural light conditions and the colored glass.

Museum director James Steward says the artists “have collaborated to create some of the most significant works of public art in a generation.” The staff at this particular museum should know - Princeton University boasts its John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Collection of public art, featuring over 60 artists including works by Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Richard Serra, Ai Weiwei, and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

Any (Body) Oddly Propped, which is to be installed on the same site where Pablo Picasso's Head of a Woman (1971) stood for nearly 30 years, was commisioned as part of the university's Campus Art Initiative and made possible by Shelly Belfer Malkin (Class of 1986) and Anthony E. Malkin, and by the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Fund. Since 2008, this initiative has used public artwork to enrich the academic experience and create meaningful spaces on campus, increasingly adding the work of living artists to the esteemed Putnam Collection.

First gaining international recognition at the 1987 Whitney Biennial, the artists have been creating conceptual art in media such as photography, sculpture, and architecture for almost 30 years. The pair’s first glass artwork was a commission by the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts for Transit for the South Ferry Terminal in 2008. Also monumental in scale, See It Split, See It Change (2005-2008) is a 14-foot tall, 250-foot long mural of fused glass, marble mosaic, and steel depicting tree silhouettes and a map inspired by 1640 topographic draft of the Manhattan grid.

The twins share a studio at the former Tallix Metal Foundry location in Beacon, NY – a 320 feet long by 65 feet wide building with 50 feet tall ceilings. Here, the works in their well-known traveling architectural series Big Bambú were fabricated. These bamboo-pole towers built without any scaffolding or support other than the bamboo itself are in a continual state of reconstruction, supporting the Starns' artist statement that they are “concerned largely with chaos, interconnection and interdependence.” Subtlely compared to the works in Big Bambú, these same themes will be conveyed through Any (Body) Oddly Propped in a powerful way by evoking the transient experience of light through the trees on Princeton University's campus.

Glass: The UrbanGlass Quarterly, a glossy art magazine published four times a year by UrbanGlass has provided a critical context to the most important artwork being done in the medium of glass for more than 40 years.