Systematic Landscapes exhibit at the de Young Museum

Systematic Landscapes exhibit at the de Young Museum

Maya Lin’s newly opened exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, titled Systematic Landscapes, depicts a stunning collection of recent and brand-new works that explore what the New York–based artist describes as the “notions of landscape and geologic phenomena.” Lin came to prominence in 1981 when she, as a senior at Yale University, won the design competition for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC.

The Systematic Landscape exhibit, Lin’s second nationally traveling exhibit within 10 years, ranges from a 50-ton sculpture created by 65,000 pieces of 2x4 set on their ends (2x4 Landscape) to Rand McNally into which Lin has cut through page by page to create new fictional landscapes that feature canyons through France and a valley in southeast Brazil that bottoms out as a lake (Atlas Landscape series).

Quarter-inch-thick aluminum tubing painted black fill a room in the form of a three-dimensional topographical map as if generated by a computer as a wire-frame model (Water Line). At the end of the exhibit space, the rises and falls of the Rocky Mountain Blue Lake Pass are depicted via tall thin pieces of shaped particleboard arranged in three-foot-by-three-foot sections pulled apart from one another to create a landscape visitors can walk through as if giants walking through a miniature, segmented mountain range (Blue Lake Pass).

Other highlights include sheets of stacked plywood in exaggerated forms of the water volumes of the Caspian, Black, and Red Seas (Bodies of Water series) and pastel rubbings of shattered plates of glass that walk the line of abstraction and the representation of a river cutting through its landscape (Fractured Landscape series).

The exhibition follows the opening of the California Academy of Sciences, for which Lin created a tubular wire sculpture reflecting the topography of the San Francisco Bay Area commissioned by the San Francisco Arts Commission and aptly titled Where the Land Meets the Sea. The exhibit includes a model of the piece as well as photographs representing the design and manufacturing process of the piece, which hangs a few hundred feet away.

Systematic Landscapes will be on display through January 18, 2009. For more information, visit


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