(born in Greece, 1936), is best known in the fields of environmental public sculpture
and conceptual art, but has also worked extensively in photography, film and artists’ books.
Education and academic career
Tacha received an M.A. in sculpture from the Athens School of Fine Arts
in Greece; an M.A. in art history from Oberlin College
, Oberlin, Ohio; and a Doctorate in aesthetics from the Sorbonne
in Paris (1963). After her studies, she worked as Curator of Modern Art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum
of Oberlin College
, and published two books and various articles on Auguste Rodin
and other 20th century sculptors. From 1973 to 2000, she was Professor of sculpture at Oberlin College. Since 1998, she has been an Affiliate of the University of Maryland, College Park
, and lives in Washington, DC
Work, exhibitions and museums
One of the first artists to develop environmental site-specific sculpture in the early 1970's, Tacha has won over fifty competitions for permanent public art
commissions, of which nearly forty have been executed throughout the U.S., including an entire city-block park in downtown Philadelphia
. She has had six one-artist shows in New York -- at the Zabriskie Gallery, the Max Hutchinson Gallery, Franklin Furnace
, and the Kouros Gallery - and has exhibited in numerous group shows throughout the world, including the Venice Biennale
). Concurrently, she produced a body of textual and photographic conceptual works, many of which were published as artist's books.
In 1989, a retrospective of more than 100 of Tacha's sculptures, drawings and conceptual photographic pieces was held at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. It included large color photographs of her executed commissions and was accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue, Athena Tacha: Public Works, 1970-88 (introductory essay by John and Catherine Howett). The same year, she had an exhibition of new work, over 50 sculptures and drawings, as well as two large temporary installations, at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, also accompanied by a richly illustrated catalogue (with an essay by Thalia Gouma-Peterson). Her most recent solo museum show, Small Wonders: New Sculpture and Photoworks at the American University’s Katzen Arts Center, Washington, DC, 2006, had a fully illustrated catalogue with essays by Anne Ellegood and Brenda Brown (reinstalled in New York at Kouros Gallery in 2007).
Tacha’s sculptures and photo-works are in many American museums and private collections, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Agnes Gund Collection.
Latest executed commissions (2001-05)
- Victory Plaza, a 40,000 sq. ft. plaza with fountains in front of the American Airlines Center (in collaboration with SWA), Dallas, Texas
- Hearts Beat, a 350-foot long ceiling of animated LEDs for a sky bridge between Grosvenor Metro station and the Strathmore Music Center, near Bethesda, Maryland.
- Riding with Sarah and Wayne, a mile-long trackbed pavement for the Light Rail, Newark, New Jersey.
Public art commissions in progress
- An amphitheater and two fountains for the Muhammad Ali Center plaza (in collaboration with EDAW), Louisville, KY.
- A plaza pavement with fountain, an LED arcade ceiling, and a light sculpture tower for Wisconsin Place, a 5-acre development at Friendship Heights Metro station (in collaboration with Arrowstreet & CJA), Bethesda, Maryland.
- Waterlinks II, a granite water wall at the University of Wisconsin’s Business School, Madison, Wisconsin.
Books, catalogs, and articles
Four books have been written about Tacha's work:
- Athena Tacha: Public Sculpture (1982)
- Forms of Chaos: Drawings by Athena Tacha (1988)
- Cosmic Rhythms: Athena Tacha's Public Sculpture by Elizabeth McClelland (1998), in conjunction with an exhibition of the same title at the Beck Center for the Arts in Cleveland
- Dancing in the Landscape: The Sculpture of Athena Tacha (2000), with an introduction by Harriet Senie and over 200 color reproductions.
Several of her New York exhibitions have illustrated catalogues -- Massacre Memorials (Max Hutchinson, 1984), with an essay by Lucy Lippard, and Vulnerability: New Fashions (Franklin Furnace, 1994), a conceptual art piece critiquing the fashion industry.
The most extensive articles on Tacha's art have appeared in Landscape Architecture (May 1978 & March 2007), Artforum (Jan. 1981), Arts Magazine (Oct. 1988) and Sculpture (June 1987, Nov. 2000 and October 2006).