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Ginnever: Folded Forms

At the Christian Petersen Art Museum
Monday, August 23 - Friday, December 17, 2021



The Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms exhibition examines Charles Ginnever’s (1931–2019) enduring interest in employing sculpture to challenge traditional encounters with environments and build an understanding of place. In public spaces, often surrounded by rigid architectural elements and visual information meant to be taken in and understood in the blink of an eye, Ginnever’s sculptures task viewers to divert their path to explore and take notice of the changing form. Perspectives of the surrounding environment shift as the work of art is viewed from multiple angles. Experimentation with complex perspective is best embodied in the Flat Illusion series Ginnever contributed to throughout his lifetime, beginning with Dante’s Rig in 1964 and continuing through his final Origami maquette series of 2018, which he focused on at the end of his career. Abstracted forms are placed with the purpose of creating an aesthetic experience while viewing. The sculptures come alive through active looking, and are enhanced by rejecting immediate conclusions or understanding.

The Charles Ginnever: Transforming Perspectives exhibition in the Anderson Sculpture Garden, and the Christian Petersen Art Museum exhibition Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms were created in conjunction with each other and provide examples of the artist’s methods in challenging the viewer. In the garden, large-scale public works of art are placed directly into the landscape removing the necessity for a formal pedestal, thus engaging the sculpture in conversation with its surrounding environment of landscaped flora and campus architecture. From early examples of sculpture such as Midas and Fog with flat planes of parallelograms arranged to fool the eye and convey depth, to the Slant Rhyme series of sculptures which dramatically shift in form depending on the angle of view, both illustrate Ginnever’s growth in these methods of human perception over the years.

Early process drawings created in the initial stages of developing public works of art are featured in Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms within the Christian Petersen Art Museum including Dante’s Rig, the artist’s first Flat Illusions series sculpture created with purchased materials. Color as a means of highlighting form is explored in numerous maquettes of the artist’s final Origami series, recalling Ginnever’s earliest works comprised of bold and brightly painted found-material sculptures. This exhibition coincides with the Christian Petersen Art Museum’s mission to exhibit the in-process material, models and maquettes for public works of art in the Art on Campus Collection. The combined exhibitions highlight decades of Charles Ginnever’s artistic progression and urges visitors to break up their habits of searching for immediate understanding of visual information, and instead enjoy the ambiguity and act of slow viewing.


TOP TWO IMAGES: The Bird (for Charlie Parker) Mid-size Steel Maquette, 1965-81. Steel, epoxy primer, Urethane. On loan from the Karen and Robert Duncan Collection, Lincoln, NE. Bill Ganzel, photographer.

ANIMATED IMAGE: Goddard's Dream Mid-size Steel Maquette I, 1979-81. Steel, epoxy primer, Urethane. On loan from the Ginnever Trust. Bill Ganzel, photographer.

LAST IMAGE: Origami Series No. 14, 2018-19. Aluminum, acrylic lacquer. On loan from the Ginnever Trust. M. Lee Fatherree, photographer.


Click the above book cover to browse the Ginnever catalogue online.


Exhibition Programs

Find full descriptions of programs on the University Museums Calendar. All programs are free and open to the public. Registration is encouraged but not required. Events listed below will be at the Christian Petersen Art Museum unless otherwise noted. Programs are subject to change. Check the University Museums Calendar and Facebook page for the latest events information.


Charles Ginnever Inside/Outside Party

Thursday, August 26, 4:00-5:30 pm

On exhibition in both the Anderson Sculpture Garden and Christian Petersen Art Museum, Charles Ginnever’s sculptures challenge the viewer to interact with art from multiple perspectives. Enjoy the start of the Fall semester with refreshments, conversation, and experience the two exhibitions by the renowned sculptor.


Curator’s Exploration of Ginnever: Folded Forms, with Anne Pagel, Curator, Clarinda Carnegie Art Museum, Robert and Karen Duncan Collection

Monday, September 13, noon -1:00 pm

Take in the exhibition Ginnever: Folded Forms with Curator Anne Pagel, as she explores the life and work of renowned Modern sculptor Charles Ginnever. On this gallery walk, Pagel will share highlights, discuss previous iterations of the show, and field questions.


Open House Weekend: Christian Petersen Art Museum and Farm House Museum

Saturday & Sunday, October 2 & 3, 1:00-4:00 pm

Having trouble getting to the museum during the week? Enjoy the three fall exhibitions during the fall open house weekend. At the Christian Petersen Art Museum see Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms and reACT exhibition Color Matters, a guest curated by Dr. Jonathan Sturm, Professor of Music. At the Farm House Museum, the exhibition Flicker and Flame: Whale Oil and Kerosene Lamps, will be open.


Folded Forms and Twisted Figures: An evening of dance and art

Thursday, November 4, 5:30-6:30 pm

A celebration of movement in dance and art, this evening will feature performances of original compositions under the direction of Kinesiology faculty member Cynthia Adams. Dance students and Orchesis I dancers will present choreography inspired by their close investigations at the sculptures and drawings from the exhibition Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms. Experience a different kind of museum visit as you are introduced to works of art through the lens of dancers.

Watch a bit of this event below!


Visit the Christian Petersen Art Museum

Currently closed for exhibition installation. Will reopen Monday, August 23.
Address: Campbell Gallery, 1017 Morrill Hall, 603 Morrill Road, Ames, Iowa
Admission: The cost is free, however there is a suggested donation of $8.

With sincere appreciation

In celebration of the exhibitions, Charles Ginnever: Folded Forms presented in the Christian Petersen Art Museum and Charles Ginnever: Transforming Perspectives presented in the Anderson Sculpture Garden, we would like to express our appreciation to Karen and Robert Duncan, Kathy and Marc LeBaron, the Duncan LeBaron Foundation, Anne Kohs, Jonathan Berger, and the Charles Ginnever Trust for their efforts in support of the arts programs presented at the University Museums, as well as to Jon and Molly Ott for their donation of Ginnever’s sculpture, Untitled [Flat Illusion]1968, and Gerald and Anne Kohs for their donation of Ginnever’s 1984 steel sculpture, Cobra to the Art on Campus Collection.

Support for Charles Ginnever’s exhibitions at Iowa State University is graciously provided by the Byron R. Anderson Sculpture Garden Fund, Marcia and Jim Borel, David R. and Carol A. Hawn, Carole Horowitz, Betty and Dennis Keeney, Arthur Klein, Christine Wehrman, and University Museums Membership. 

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