This season the Glass House presents a wide array of sculptural works in stone by master stone carver Mark Mennin. A Connecticut-based sculptor who takes on large-scale projects in granite, marble and onyx, Mennin is no stranger to our property in New Canaan.
Over twenty years ago, Mennin was invited to the Glass House by Philip Johnson to discuss a sculptural collaboration with the architect. While that project was well into the planning stages, it was not completed before Johnson‘s passing in 2005. Mennin never forgot the property and the great presence of stone, from the many 18th-century walls in the fields to the outcropping of rocks throughout the site. Johnson himself used to say that the rocky promontory on which the Glass House sits was the feature that inspired him to buy the original Connecticut land in 1946. Stone is as seminal to the Glass House as is glass itself.
A truly hands-on artist, Mennin uses a variety of methods to produce his monumental works. From chisels to saws to fire–and even some minimal digital technology. These processes collaborate with the artist’s hand to create finely skilled and conceptually savvy pieces. They incorporate a dedication to stone’s sublime physical properties as well as an acknowledgment of the human figure, often in absentia. As capable of creating a figurative head as the abstract “furniture” that conforms to human form, Mennin, who is widely considered one of the most accomplished carvers of his generation, is a master at evoking both the sensual qualities and timelessness of stone.
Naming the exhibition Processi, (Italian for “processes” or “trials”), Mennin has given us a sense of his collective oeuvre of the past 20 years, albeit all pieces have been reworked for this show and presented to the public for the first time here. The title also references Johnson’s own use of “procession,” his favored term for the interconnected aspects of all the spatial and visual elements of architecture. These aspects are paramount at The Glass House. Additionally, Mennin is considering the long-standing processes by which stone is created and formed: via nature, by hand and in some cases through machine. All of these works incorporate time and the body, and here the artist has physically participated in all of these processes.