Press Releases

Monumental Sculpture Transforms Akron Art Museum Collection Gallery

For Release: October 2013

Diana Al-Hadid: Nolli’s Orders Opens November 23, 2013


The installation of Diana Al-Hadid’s monumental sculpture Nolli’s Orders, on view November 23, 2013 – March 16, 2014, will dramatically transform one of the Akron Art Museum’s Sandra L. and Dennis B. Haslinger Family Foundation galleries normally dedicated to contemporary paintings from the museum’s collection.

Known for her innovative art making techniques, Al-Hadid has forged a new genre of contemporary sculpture that defies categorization. Her use of industrial materials combined with forms derived from wide-ranging influences that include Italian and Northern Renaissance painting, ancient architecture and Hellenistic sculpture renders her works fascinatingly timeless. Her sculptures have the appearance of unfinished buildings or archeological remains, making it difficult to distinguish between construction and collapse.
Commanding in scale, Nolli’s Orders hovers between architectural ruin, landscape and figurative sculpture. Thirteen-feet high and constructed of steel, polymer gypsum, fiberglass, wood, foam and paint, it was inspired by the 18th century Italian architect and surveyor Giambattista Nolli, whose iconic 1748 map of Rome articulated the interplay between buildings and outdoor space, figure and ground. Al-Hadid was captivated by how those relationships connect to painting and sculpture and also to the human body. She states, “I am fascinated with boundaries—where something starts and stops, how we define a place, is it architectural, sculptural, experiential, etc.”
Highly improvisational, Al-Hadid’s process of composing and building Nolli’s Orders was as complex as the finished work itself. Beginning with figures plucked from Northern Renaissance and Mannerist paintings, she describes, “In most Mannerist paintings, the figures are intertwined. But I pulled them apart and isolated them so that they became disconnected from the narrative of the original painting. This is how I began, levitating the figures above a series of pedestals — or ‘buildings’ — arranged on a grid.” Using the figures as anchors, Al-Hadid proceeded to experiment with adding to and subtracting from the sculpture. “I fluctuate between precision and recklessness. It amounts to a series of decisions and various ways of working—sometimes I want more control, sometimes I need chaos.”
A Kent State University graduate, Al-Hadid was born in 1981 in Aleppo, Syria and grew up in Canton, Ohio. After receiving a BFA from Kent, she earned her MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond. Al-Hadid lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
This exhibition is organized by the Akron Art Museum.
Exhibition-Related Programs: LOOK, TASTE, SHOP, ENJOY
For an inspiring art experience roam the galleries, relax in the new iQcafé, shop the museum store and enjoy art talks, classes and films.
Friday, November 22
Members Only Preview Party, 6-8 pm
Featuring Artist Talk: Diana Al-Hadid at 6:15 pm
Free to the Public, 8-9 pm
There’s something for everyone at the museum’s fall opening party. Be the first to experience how Al-Hadid’s work has transformed the museum’s collection galleries. At the Artist Talk at 6:15 pm, members can learn more about Al-Hadid and her artmaking process. And explore a fantastic selection of prints by an all-star roster of contemporary artists in Multiplicity.
Thursday, January 30 – 6:30 pm, Art History 101 Diana Al-Hadid’s Art Historical Roots with Elisha Ann Dumser, Assistant Professor of Art History, The University of Akron
Thursday, February 13 – 6:30 pm, Art History 101 Diana Al-Hadid and Contemporary Sculpture with Ellen Rudolph, Senior Curator
Explore uncharted connections between the work of Al-Hadid and other major figures and monuments in art history. A convergence of architecture, landscape and figure, Al-Hadid’s recent sculpture embodies a wide array of artistic influences, from Northern Renaissance painting and ancient Greek architecture to the work of contemporary sculptors ranging from John Chamberlain to Louise Bourgeois, Eva Hesse and David Altmejd.
The newly opened iQcafé is a fun place to meet with friends, discuss the exhibition, read your new book purchase from the Museum Store or just relax and check your messages. The special bill of fare features a custom blend coffee from Bent Tree Roasters in Kent, an exclusive brew from Thirsty Dog Brewery in Akron, popular beverages and delectable pastries from Blue Door Café in Cuyahoga Falls. The café’s philosophy is to select food and beverage items from popular venues and will eventually expand to include sandwich and salad selections from other restaurants. Offerings are exclusive to the  iQcafé.
Museum Store
Open during regular gallery hours, the Museum Store offers a unique assortment of contemporary artful accessories for your home and lifestyle. Choose from beautifully handmade objects, including jewelry from local artists, fair-trade items from across the globe, award-winning art supplies and toys for children. Select from an assortment of books among the Nolli’s Orders-inspired items. Gallery admission is not required to visit the iQcafé or Museum Store.

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