Tom Carr, 1991

The meaning of this work shifts and changes with the angle of view and distance: seen from the front, the work is spreading its wings and inviting us to ascend; seen in profile, however, it looks as if it were trying to withdraw into itself. It explores the back and forth of life. Depending on the light or the season, whole sections blend in with the surroundings or stand out clearly from the work. The snow merges with the white parts, the foliage with the dark lines, so that the work is constantly reinventing itself.

"Open" is a gigantic combination of two identical tubular steel structures. Seen from the front, the work stretches out its wings and invites you to climb up. "Open" is a gigantic combination of two identical tubular steel structures. Seen from the front, the work stretches out its wings and invites you to climb up.

Image Credits


Françoise Barbe-Gall

Location on map

Position 19


Universalmuseum Joanneum

Artist biography

Tom Carr

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About the sculpture

Since the nineteen-eighties, Tom Carr has pursued a path characterised by monumental sculptures which focus on the vitality of archetypes: inaugural forms preceding any theory in the moment where the necessity to come to terms with the world leads to their imperious emergence – to divide and to bring up, to articulate, to link and to exceed, to capture or to cross through… The sculptor anticipates the relationship between material and space as a metaphor of the mind which discovers itself.

Open is a huge assembly of two identical structures of steel pipes materializing the passage of an individual, of light, and of air, into transparency. The high central arch encourages the visitor to commit himself. The front view shows the sculpture spreading its wings: an invitation to climb on it. The vertical axis is accentuated in black as an arrow’s movement, because the work has come to life in the project.

The observer feels that it will take off immediately, although this is a utopia. Dynamism carries you away. In profile view, however, the sculpture seems clumsy: Open has landed – and makes you feel that it has withdrawn into itself, that there is space left over and overlapping, which makes the observer find his way back into the world’s complexity.

The sculpture’s intention changes with the perspective and the distance; it speaks of return or estrangement, of the ambivalence inherent in life… And in-between these two concepts, the sculpture becomes a playground in the form of a climbing wall for children.

Black, grey and white punctuate the metal structure, breaking up its symmetry and making it breathe. According to the light or the season, whole parts of it merge with the environment, the white with the surrounding snow, the dark lines with the leaves, so that the sculpture continuously re-invents itself, just like a story. It mimics and takes refuge behind itself, offering itself to the landscape in which it takes part. Nature decides, combines or dismantles.

Thus, Open announces the motif of fragments suspended in space, which Tom Carr has been exploring since 2002, developing a reflection on the discontinuity of conscience.