Willard Boepple, “Eleanor at 7:15”

Willard Boepple, “Eleanor at 7:15”

  • <p>Willard Boepple, Eleanor at 7:15, 1977. Cor-ten steel, 49 × 35 × 45 inches. Lent by The Metropolitan Museum of Art Anonymous gift, 1978 (1978.567.5). Photo by Mark Menjivar.</p>
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Willard Boepple, Eleanor at 7:15, 1977.

American, born 1945

Willard Boepple’s birthplace, Bennington, Vermont, became nationally renowned for the art department at its eponymous college. During the 1960s and ‘70s, the school attracted practitioners and theorists of abstract art, including the leading critic Clement Greenberg (1909–1994) and the British sculptor Anthony Caro (1924–2013). In 1977, after studying on both the East and the West Coasts, Boepple returned to Bennington where he worked closely with Caro as a technical assistant for sculpture. Caro was a master of improvisational composition using sheet metal, and Boepple adapted that technique to his own style. Though he often has a concept prior to beginning a new work, Boepple states: “Only rarely does the plan survive the making; more often the sculpture takes over, establishing its own rules, its own reality.”

In the 1970s, Boepple preferred to work with Cor-ten steel, a strong yet malleable material that can be cut, bent, and formed to fabricate works with an extraordinary amount of energy and movement. Eleanor at 7:15 is a highly articulated, swirling mass of lively, spirited lines with intersecting curves and flat planes. Like many of Boepple’s sculptures, this particular piece is modest in scale and smaller than the average person. The artist feels that sculpture should not occupy its own isolated space because proximity allows for an immediate, more intimate exchange.

While Eleanor at 7:15 resists a figurative interpretation, the title alludes to an intimate moment in the life of the artist. Boepple’s titles are not meant to be descriptions or explanations. They are inspired by places or poetry that evoke a feeling or gesture. With Eleanor at 7:15, Boepple envisioned a lively and energetic morning person. Aesthetically, the piece adheres to the formalist ideas that drove abstract sculpture at that time, when the context behind a work of art was secondary to purely visual aspects like form and style. Beopple breaks from this tradition by suggesting a narrative within the title.

  • <p>Willard Boepple, Eleanor at 7:15, 1977. Photo by Christina Murrey.</p>
  • <p>Willard Boepple, Eleanor at 7:15, 1977.  Photo by Ben Aqua.</p>

Location: Courtyard between MEZ and BAT

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