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Charles Simonds

Simonds, Charles (American sculptor and architect, born 1945)

Charles Simonds, the son of two psychoanalysts, grew up in New York City. As a child, his parents sent Simonds and his brother John to take lessons from two Italian sculptors who gave the fledgling artist his first experience with a medium he would grow to dominate. Simonds graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1967 and followed up with an MFA from Rutgers. He tried his hand at teaching for a while, commuting from Manhattan to Newark State College five days a week. Soon, however, he returned full-time to his passion for sculpture.

Simonds’ career began with his first solo exhibition in Paris in 1975, followed closely by an installation at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1976. Since then, Simonds’ work has been featured at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1981); the Guggenheim (1983); Galerie Nationale de Jeu de Paume, Paris (1994); and Insitut Valencià d’Art Modern, Valencia (2003). His sculpture predominately features themes of birth, growth, death, decay, and sexuality, all rendered in materials as diverse as clay, steel, cement, plaster, and porcelain.

In 2009, Simonds came to Dumbarton Oaks to participate as the first artist in residence. His installation took place across the entire institutions, uniting gardens, library, and museum spaces by a common thread. With input from Dumbarton Oaks staff, Simonds chose sculptures from his oeuvre and placed them in unexpected corners of garden rooms, exhibit cases, and curiosity cabinets. The entire project and its critical reception is documented in the exhibition catalog edited by John Beardsley.



Babcock, Martha K. and Susan Reed. “The Little People May Live in Charles Simonds’ Head, but Their Homes are in His Art.” People. December 12, 1988.,,20119012,00.html

Beardsley, John, ed. Landscape Body Dwelling: Charles Simonds at Dumbarton Oaks. Washington, D.C.: Dumbarton Oaks, 2011.

Princenthal, Nancy. “Charles Simonds, New York, at Knoedler.” Art in America. February 15, 2012.