Tadao Ando has achieved international acclaim for his uncompromising architectural vision, which elevates the use of simple materials and forms to create spaces that appeal equally to precision and emotion. Pulitzer Arts Foundation—completed in 2001 after four years of construction—is the first free-standing, public project for which Ando was commissioned in the United States. Through carefully composed windows and a central water court, the building is suffused with natural light, inviting the outside world into dialogue with art and architecture. Artists Richard Serra and Ellsworth Kelly were commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer to create permanent sculptures for the building, and according to Ando, their collaboration "provided a rare and stimulating opportunity to reconsider the architecture and to rethink what it means to create."
Composed of two painted aluminum panels, Ellsworth Kelly's Blue Black is a vertical wall sculpture that was commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer and installed on the south wall of the Main Gallery. Kelly's choice of colors is at once striking and subtle—strong enough to engage the eye on a grand scale, but restrained enough to accord with Tadao Ando's poetic allocation of space. As natural light spills in from the narrow skylight above and shimmers off of the reflecting pool to its right, Blue Black maintains a dynamic relation to both the architecture and the environment that frame it. Equally geometric and totemic, Kelly's sculpture instills a familiar form with an endlessly unfixed meaning.
Commissioned by Emily Rauh Pulitzer as a permanent feature of the courtyard, Richard Serra's Joe articulates a space that reframes perceptions of scale and movement through its subtle, shifting contours. As a counterpoint to Tadao Ando's angular forms and immutable concrete, Joe conveys an evolving sense of the organic; the walls of the sculpture's spiral path expand and contract, conveying you to its center—a vast expanse of sky, framed by a ribbon of weathering steel. Named in homage to the late Joseph Pulitzer Jr., who commissioned the artist's first site-specific sculpture in 1970, Richard Serra's Joe stands as a testament to the forces of life that influence and shape us.
Almost a year after its opening, Pulitzer Arts Foundation added a third work to its permanent collection: Scott Burton's Rock Settee. Installed in the water court, the work appears as though a rough mass of rock when viewed from inside the building—an almost prehistoric counterpoint to the clean, modern lines of Tadao Ando's architecture. But as one comes around to the smooth cuts that form the seat and back of this five-ton granite sculpture, its otherwise uneven exterior yields a peaceful place of rest. Rock Settee complements the contemplative space of the water court, and visitors are encouraged to engage the raw physicality and tactility of Burton's work, which inspires a dialogue between the monumental and the minimal.