Along with other sculptures featured on Gallaudet University’s Main Mall, Contrapposto sits on the grass and can be viewed by students, faculty, and visitors as they travel across campus. Made of corten steel, the base of the sculpture is a circular pedestal, with a rectangular platform stacked on top, surrounded by smaller rods of steel supporting the top piece: a repeated Z-shaped sheet of metal sitting on a circular steel sheet platform. Completed in 1979, the sculpture was designed and created by Jules Olitski, a well-known artist who had immigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States in 1923 as an infant.
The sculpture’s name comes from sculpture terminology: contrapposto refers to a popular posing style for human sculptures — with the person’s weight balanced on one leg, the other leg extended forward, and the arms freely positioned at the sides (or with one arm raised to the chest or face). This is most commonly seen in ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, such as Michaelangelo’s David.
This site is a stop on the Abstract Sculptures of DC tour.