Major New Sculpture by Doug and Mike Starn to be Unveiled at Princeton in September


Sited on lawn of the Princeton University Art Museum, sculpture is the latest Princeton commission and joins a prominent collection of public art 

PRINCETON, NJ---A monumental new glass, steel and bronze sculpture by leading contemporary artists Doug and Mike Starn will be placed on the lawn of the Princeton University Art Museum in September. The newly commissioned work, weighing nearly eight tons, is constructed of six 18-foot tall vividly colored glass panels – featuring a new glass-dyeing technique pioneered in Germany – and two cast bronze forms resembling tree limbs. It was designed by the Starns specifically for the site and continues the artists’ long-standing fascination with energy systems found in nature. A rich addition to Princeton’s arboretum-like campus, it is only the second glass piece created by the artists since their first permanently installed public artwork, made for the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority in 2009.

Titled (Any) Body Oddly Propped, this important new commission joins Princeton’s landmark collection of public art and has been made possible by the exceptional generosity of Shelly Belfer Malkin, Class of 1986, and Anthony E. Malkin, and by the John B. Putnam Jr. Memorial Fund.

Related to Picasso’s late sculptures, in which the artist stood two flat images together, the Starns’ piece may also be read as the walls of an outdoor stained-glass chapel propped together, inviting the visitor to walk among the panels. The enlarged arboreal images and the interdependence of the richly hued glass panels lend mood to the structure that is at once animated and evanescent, while the sheer scale and weight of the massive panels create a profound sense of rootedness.

“Doug and Mike Starn have collaborated to create some of the most significant works of public art in a generation, and this new piece is expressive and purely beautiful, inviting visitors to linger amidst the sculpture and experience it under constantly shifting light conditions,” notes James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, Director. “This new work represents a thrilling direction in Doug and Mike’s work and deepens the visual experience of this gorgeous campus.”

Identical twins born in New Jersey in 1961 and based in Beacon, New York, Doug and Mike Starn first gained international recognition at the 1987 Whitney Biennial and have received numerous honors and critical acclaim ever since. Their ongoing investigations at the intersection of light and science have led them to defy categorization, combining media such as photography, painting, sculpture, architecture and installation, most notably in the series Big Bambú. Widely exhibited, the Starns’ work is represented in major museums and private collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Jewish Museum (New York), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Moderna Museet (Stockholm), the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne), the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yokohama Museum of Art, La Bibliotèque Nationale (Paris); La Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, among many others.

The artists write, “Trees are a hierarchal structure- trunk leading to limbs, limbs splitting off to smaller and smaller branches, but if the tree is silhouetted there is no hierarchy- it becomes Rhizomatic- connections happen at any point- this is the Structure of Thought that takes place constantly in your mind.  No one is a fully realized and unchanging person existing in a world that is experienced the same by everyone else- we all exist within our own world -created by our own experience and our mind's continually built perceptions of the outer world.”The glass panels were fabricated by Frank Mayer of Munich, Inc., a family-run glass studio founded in 1847 that is dedicated to contemporary art and architectural glass and mosaics as well as to historic preservation.

The Museum’s front lawn has been home to a number of compelling works of art, from Pablo Picasso’s Head of a Woman to Magdalena Abakanowicz’s Big Figures to such short-term installations as Doug Aitken’s migration (empire) and, most recently, two remarkable sculptures by Alexander Calder.

Princeton University boasts one of the most significant public art collections in the United States, with masterworks by more than 60 major artists, including Alexander Calder, Frank Gehry, Gaston Lachaise, Jacques Lipchitz, Henry Moore, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Michele Oka Doner, Antoine Pevsner, Pablo Picasso, George Rickey, Augustus Saint-Gaudens, George Segal, Richard Serra, David Smith, Tony Smith and Louis Comfort Tiffany. A campus art initiative – launched in 2008 to expand the University’s existing collection of historical campus art with commissions by living artists – is currently undertaking numerous commissions and loans and has brought to campus works by artists such as Kendall Buster, Jim Isermann, Sol LeWitt, Odili Donald Odita and Beverly Pepper. It will be joined in the fall by a commission by Ursula von Rydingsvard.

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About Doug and Mike Starn

The Starns were represented by Leo Castelli from 1989 until he passed in 1999. Their art has been the object of numerous solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide. They have received many honors including two National Endowment for the Arts Grants in 1987 and 1995; The International Center for Photography’s Infinity Award for Fine Art Photography in 1992; and, artists in residency at NASA in the mid-nineties.  Their work has been critically acclaim in The New York Times, Corriere della Sera, Le Figaro, The Times (London), Art in America, and Artforum amongst many other notable media. Major artworks by the Starns are represented in public and private collections including: The Museum of Modern Art (NYC); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SF); Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, (NYC); The Jewish Museum, (NYC); The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC); The National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC); Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan; the Noashima Museum, (Japan); La Bibliotèque Nationale, Paris; La Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris); Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), amongst many others.


About the Princeton University Art Museum

With a collecting history that extends back to the 1750s, the Princeton University Art Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the country, with collections that have grown to include over 92,000 works of art ranging from ancient to contemporary art and spanning the globe.

Committed to advancing Princeton’s teaching and research missions, the Art Museum also serves as a gateway to the University for visitors from around the world. Intimate in scale yet expansive in scope, the Museum offers a respite from the rush of daily life, a revitalizing experience of extraordinary works of art and an opportunity to delve deeply into the study of art and culture.

The Princeton University Art Museum is located at the heart of the Princeton campus, a short walk from the shops and restaurants of Nassau Street. Admission is free. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday 1 to 5 p.m. The Museum is closed Mondays and major holidays.

Please direct image requests to Erin Firestone, Manager of Marketing and Public Relations, Princeton University Art Museum, at (609) 258-3767 or