Artwork Detail

Bisected Circle
2019
American, b. 1942
Two-way mirror glass and stainless steel
92 1/2 x 276 "
University purchase, Art on Campus fund, 2019
WU 2019.0005
Bisected Circle by the American artist Dan Graham is a cylindrical structure, twenty-three feet in diameter, made of two-way mirror glass and stainless steel. Commissioned for the Florence Steinberg Weil Sculpture Garden, it is part of the artist’s signature series of pavilions that have been exhibited and permanently installed in public spaces across the world since the 1980s. Through openings on opposite sides of the pavilion’s exterior wall, viewers are able to enter a space that is divided asymmetrically by a curved interior wall, which is also made of two-way mirror glass. Blurring distinctions between architecture and sculpture, Graham’s pavilions are informed by a myriad of historical and contemporary sources, including the primitive hut (as theorized by the eighteenth-century architectural theorist Marc-Antoine Laugier), Renaissance and Baroque garden design, and modern architecture. The structure allows viewers to see themselves, each other, and their surroundings reflected in the semitransparent walls of the pavilion, extending the artist’s investigation into how our awareness of the world is contingent upon our relation to and interaction with others. The degree to which the glass walls reflect the surrounding landscape and buildings varies with changing light conditions and weather patterns, and the overall phenomenological effect becomes a dynamic interplay between visitors and their environment. Much like a funhouse mirror, the myriad composite and anamorphic reflections also offer the opportunity for a mildly disorientating and destabilizing experience of our own individual subjectivity. The work is part of Washington University’s Art on Campus program, a percent-for-art policy administered by the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts. [Cell phone tour, 2020]