Meijer Gardens gains gift of sculptor Pepper’s artistic archive

Untitled; Studies for Stainless Steel Sculptures by Beverly Pepper. (Supplied)

WKTV staff


Iconic American sculptor Beverly Pepper — whose monumental sculpture “Galileo’s Wedge” dominates one area of the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park — is giving the Grand Rapids area a present on her 94th birthday.


“Galileo’s Wedge” (2009) by Beverly Pepper, measuring roughly 35 feet in height. (Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park/William J. Hebert)

Meijer Gardens today announced the gift to its permanent collection of Pepper’s expansive print and drawing archives. The collection includes works spanning seven decades of of her artistic life including hundreds of drawings, prints, works on paper and notebooks – many containing sketches of her major sculptural endeavors.


Also Tuesday, Meijer Gardens announced it will host a retrospective exhibition of work drawn from the archives in early 2018.


“The enormity of Beverly Pepper’s gift cannot be understated,” Joseph Becherer, chief curator and vice president of Meijer Gardens, said in supplied material. “Drawing has been an integral part of her artistic practice, but like her printmaking, is little known even to scholars.”


Beverly Pepper at her studio. (Supplied/George Tatge)

Pepper is renowned for her monumental works which often incorporate industrial metals such as iron, bronze and stainless steel, as well as stone. Meijer Gardens engagement with the artist began with 2009 commission of the “Galileo’s Wedge.”


Explaining the reason for her gift was made clear in a supplied statement by Pepper: “To have in one location a space to study, compare and sequence my drawings and prints is an exceptional opportunity; I am most grateful to leave this record and have the curatorial team there looking after my work.”


Pepper works are part of the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., Les Jardins du Palais Royal in Paris, France and The Museum of Modern Art in Sapporo, Japan.