Linda Howard, Round About

Linda Howard (American, 1934)
Round About, 1976
Photo: Claire Ruzicka.
8′ 2″ x 8′ x 8′

Linda Howard was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1934. The artist received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver and her Master of Arts from Hunter College.  She has taught at various universities in New York, Colorado, and Florida. Her large-scale public art works can be found across the country, frequently in the collections of museums and universities. In the late 1970s, she became the first woman artist to exhibit in New York’s City Hall Park when Maya, her commission for the 1980 Winter Olympics, was temporarily on display.

Howard’s work is composed of straight aluminum beams that are ground to a luster, a technique also used by sculptor David Smith. Carl Andre’s minimalist works originally inspired the simple geometric forms present in her early works. Linda Howard’s pieces, though, are neither static nor monotonous. The aluminum’s texture, after the artist has burnished it, reflects light, producing interesting shadows and giving the sculptures an illusion of movement.  Her work is often influenced by music and dance, a quality clearly present in the way that the stationary sculptures appear to move.

Round About is a sculpture composed of aluminum beams that, although perfectly straight, give the appearance of a form twisting and turning in constant movement. The work, with its illusionary motion, embodies the contradiction between physical and conceptual reality—or consciousness–that intrigued Howard. It is composed of straight lines but suggests folds and waves. It is made of aluminum, but softly reflects light. It is carefully and meticulously constructed, but appears to be completely spontaneous. Howard made studies of Round About on cardboard and paper before constructing the piece in order to capture the maximum amount of light. She always assembles the units on site, and this one was no different, resulting in a difference of opinion with Mrs. Bradley on where the sculpture was to be placed. At the time, Mrs. Bradley placed the sculpture where she wanted it, but it was moved around the lake after her death.