Bridgeport, 1984. Aluminum and paint, 35 x 15 x 25 ft.

Sculpture as a Symphony: A Conversation with John Henry

John Henry is a prominent sculptor with large-scale outdoor installations on five continents and work in many museums and private collections. His sculptures recall Constructivism, but while the Russians made visionary drawings and models, Henry has built more than 2,000 architectonic structures from long shafts and hollow plates of steel. His vocabulary is simple; his results are both powerful and subtle.

Through May 2009, Henry is having a huge retrospective: eight simultaneous exhibitions of his work in Florida art museums and public spaces. In each participating city—Boca Raton, Miami, Naples, Orlando, Sarasota, Tampa, and Tallahassee—he has installed a 50- to 80-foot-tall sculpture at a public site, while the local art museum hosts an exhibition that highlights some aspect of his work and career. Miami is hosting two exhibitions, one in the museum and one in the library. In all, Henry is exhibiting 160 sculptures.

Henry has a longstanding interest in the idea of works of art encompassing a large tract of land. The Florida exhibitions, which he calls “The Peninsula Project,” bring his large-scale works together so they can talk to each other. “Each of my sculptures,” he states, “is part of a continuous sentence…Each is an individual part of a greater whole. In many regards, my sculptures may be seen as all one work.” He feels a strong affinity for Florida because he lived and worked in the state for 10 years. He calls the Florida peninsula “a unique geographic environment…that offer[s] the sunrise on the east coast and sunset on the west.” In addition to the catalogue for “The Peninsula Project,” a new book, John Henry Sculpture, includes David Finn’s photographs of key sculptures all over the U.S. Henry is a former member and chairman of the ISC Board of Directors.