Pescina, in the Hills of Tuscany

In the fall of 1990, Shirley and I decided to take advantage of what amounted to a "patronage" in the remote Tuscan settlement of Pescina, just to the north of Florence, Italy. David Kessler, a Dutch artist we had gotten to know during our first stay in Pescina back in 1986, offered me 2 years of support, studio space, a place to live in return for my assistance on a project to restore his 500 year old stone farmhouse in the valley. We were at the time, living in a tiny 4th floor walk-up on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village with a new baby (Hazel was born in 1989) and jumped at the opportunity. I actually obtained work papers through the Italian Consulate in New York, not an easy task.
This page and the 1992 page, document some of the work done while living in Italy, 1991-1992.

"Letters, Numbers, Symbols" 1991, 15" X 15-20" each, cement, terracotta .
Symbols, letters, numbers which were placed (in various configurations) in a small stream running near the house. This stream ran into the Sieve River which, after passing through "Il Mugello", the birthplace of the Renaissance, flowed into the Arno River and then through Florence, allowing the objects to send messages into the heart of the Renaissance.
(Clicking on the image will enlarge it in a new JavaScript Popup window.)
"One Big One", 1991, terracotta, cement, small stream - dimensions variable. An example of one of the messages.
(This photo was taken soon after a rainstorm.)
"Il Mugello", 1991, sand and tinted sand, 4M x 5M. (Work in the studio).

With the establishment of "Failure Institute", one of the vows was an end to the making of objects. No more painting on panels or canvas that had to be stored away. Only temporary works. But I did enjoy making these balls and decided that they were a sort of substitute for the paintings. Failed paintings that had collapsed into themselves, perfecting themselves in a small dense ball.

The First Failures

One of the first of the earthworks was a decision to cut the grass of the fields surrounding in an interesting manner to create a sort of Golf Course. I had a set of clubs with me and while short, the 6 hole course was quite playable.

"Golf Course", 1991-1992, cut grass - 4 hectares of lawn cut in varying patterns over a period of two years.

Not actually fine art, but one of the more interesting and creative aspects of the house restoration project, were these spiral stairs. David Kessler, an accomplished sculptor and welder, put together an armature of Corten steel and I cast and formed concrete over the top. The final surface was polished and waxed to resemble 500 year old "pietra serena".

The Spiral Stairs