Outdoor Sculptures and Murals

at The Phillips Collection

Explore The Phillips Collection's permanent outdoor sculptures and murals. Angela Bulloch's Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three, unveiled on September 16, 2018, is on the corner of 21st and Q Streets. In the Hunter Courtyard are sculptures by Ellsworth Kelly and Barbara Hepworth and a mural by Regina Pilawuk Wilson. On the exterior wall of the courtyard, in Hillyer Alley across from The University of Maryland Center for Art and Knowledge at The Phillips Collection is a mural by Muhsana Ali, Fodé Camara, Viyé Diba, and Piniang (Ibrahima Niang).

Outdoor Sculptures and Murals

Heavy Metal Stack: Fat Cyan Three (2018)

Commissioned in celebration of The Phillips Collection centennial in 2021

The work of Angela Bulloch (b. 1966, Rainy River, Canada) spans many media, from painting and sculpture to video and sound installations. Many of her works use biofeedback systems and manifest her interest in patterns and rules in art, mathematics, and social structures. Since graduating from Goldsmiths College in 1988 as part of the YBA (Young British Artists generation), her work has developed into a number of distinct strands, including Pixel Boxes (cubes initially fabricated in wood and later in aluminum or copper that display pulsing colors that constantly change to form complex visual patterns); Drawing Machines, where a machine draws vertical or horizontal lines on a gallery wall according to an external stimulus such as noise, touch, or movement; and electronic simulations of the night sky, which have been exhibited as both large-scale public installations and smaller domestic panels.

In her most recent body of work, Stacks, each vertical structure of three to six stacked rhomboids offers a distinct rhythm created by variations in shape, size, and color. The powder coated steel surfaces are painted in a combination of light and dark colors, creating the optical illusion of pushing and pulling planes. Designed within a digital imaging program, each stacked rhombus appears distinct while at the same time relating to the others. By using technology to transpose Euclidian geometry into a three-dimensional sphere, the artist transports her sculptures into a weightless, luminous space. ​

Nangi/Yerrdagarri (Traveling Message Stick) and Fi (String Game) (2018)

Yerrdagarri are a form of communication used until the mid-1900s between Aboriginal communities and clans in the Northern Territory of Australia and beyond. Regina Pilawuk Wilson recalls young men arriving from afar with message sticks to announce ceremonies, funerals, and war when she was a child. Each morning they would put a line on the stick to keep track of how many days they had been away. Sometimes the men would travel for years at a time to send a message before returning to their community. Wilson paints these message sticks to share and pass down the traditions of her people.
Fi was a past time of the people in the Daly River/Peppimenarti region. The string was made from rolled sand palm and the games were taught by the older women to children as a way of having fun and sharing stories. The black string represents the long-necked turtle, the red rectangle represents the arriving storm cloud, and the grey vertical shape shows the long spears that were used for fighting and hunting animals.

Diocco (Contact) (2014)

Senegalese artists Muhsana Ali, Fodé Camara, Viyé Diba, and Piniang (Ibrahima Niang) painted an original mural at The Phillips Collection. This mural project is generously supported by Toni A. Ritzenberg, CulturalDC, Millennium Arts Salon, International Arts & Artists, and the Cameroon American Council. Created as part of The Phillips Collection's 2014 International Forum Weekend in Washington



Untitled (EK 927) (2005) and Dual Form (1965/cast 1966)

In the courtyard of The Phillips Collection are two works of distinctively different aesthetic sensibilities that use the same traditional material—bronze. The untitled bronze on the garden wall is a site-specific work that the museum commissioned Ellsworth Kelly to create. One of the greatest American artists of the postwar generation, Kelly has spent more than 60 years exploring elegantly distilled forms that record optical experiences and illusions in both painting and sculpture. He finds endless inspiration in his observations of the natural and man-made world—like a curve in the hill of a landscape, the shadows cast by trees, or the spaces between architectural elements. Kelly’s dialogue between sculpture and painting is elegantly realized in the deceptively simple form which he devised for the Phillips garden wall. Although it weighs nearly 1,000 pounds, Kelly’s sculpture is pure magic in the way it defies gravity and floats on the wall. The artist, who oversaw the work’s installation, very deliberately chose to mount it at an angle. This careful positioning allows the organic curve to give energy and lightness to the massive bronze. Kelly has precisely defined a curved edge on the slightly smaller form cantilevered off its larger sibling. 
By contrast, the life-size bronze Dual Form near the doorway into the museum is firmly earthbound. Created by Barbara Hepworth, one of Britain’s foremost 20th-century sculptors, Dual Form reveals a sensuous handling and color to its surfaces. Hepworth’s mature work was inspired by the rugged landscape of St. Ives, a picturesque seaside town in the southwestern region of England, where the artist moved at the outbreak of the Second World War. There Hepworth spent a lifetime exploring relationships of light and form and movement in her sculpture. Dual Form, an abstract, free-standing bronze of two related shapes reveals Hepworth’s ongoing exploration of “holes” and piercings to reveal interior space within the sculptural mass. She used the changing natural light to animate shadows, penetrate the solid form, and emphasize the sensuous surface and color of the bronze.