Born 1963 in New Haven, CT
Lives and works in Norfolk, CT and New York, NY

Year created:
DeCordova Exhibits

Tom Burr, Collection, 2013. Bronze, steel, rope, epoxy paint and leather equestrian tack, 70x70x70 in. Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, NY. Contact, 2013. Steel, mirror, epoxy paint and leather equestrian tack, 61 x 98 x 24 in. Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, NY. Photograph by Anchor Imagery.

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Collection: 70 x 70 x 70 inches. Contact: 61 x 98 x 24 inches.

Collection: bronze, steel, rope, epoxy paint and leather equestrian tack. Contact: steel, mirror, epoxy paint and leather equestrian tack.
Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, NY. Installation support has been provided by those who generously raised their paddles at deCordova’s Party for the Park 2014.
Exhibit Date: 
On View May 27, 2014 - Nov 03, 2014

No longer on view.

Dressage is a form of horse training historically used by the cavalry. It is known for its focus on discipline, power, strength, and harmony. Often referred to as “horse ballet”, dressage is composed of six levels of training. Loosely translated from German, these levels are known as “Rhythm and Regularity,” “Relaxation,” “Contact,” “Impulsion,” “Straightness,” and “Collection.” Tom Burr’s six sculptures, known collectively as Dressage, reflect on and earn their titles from each of these levels. The third level, Contact, and the sixth level, Collection, are shown on deCordova’s Sculpture Terrace.

The discipline gained within dressage enhances the power and strength of the horse and rider resulting in an effortless and elegant performance. Even without the presence of horse or man, the duality of beauty and physical discipline are the central themes of Burr’s constructions. Using materials such as bronze, steel, rope, and leather equestrian tack, Burr’s sculptures emanate the restraint, showmanship, and formality for which dressage is known for. Dressage triggers literal considerations of physical therapy, military training, ballet, and other forms of intense bodily contact while evoking an abstract sense of time and weight.

While Dressage represents the practices of dressage horse training and competition, it also points to the relationship between humans and objects. The relationship between the corporeal and the idealized body are of great interest to the artist. This relationship is mediated by the objects that are used to train the body in dressage. By utilizing this system, the horse, and perhaps the rider as well, can come to “collection” which is considered to be a manifestation of perfect form. With Dressage, Burr explores human desire, discipline, social performance, and the fetishization of beauty and power.

Tom Burr studied at the School of Visual Arts, New York and in the Whitney Independent Study Program, NY. His work has been exhibited internationally, at venues such as The Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; The Sculpture Center, NY; FRAC, Champagne-Ardenne, France; Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel; Louisiana Museum, Denmark; The Hayward Gallery, London; and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, NY. Burr works and lives in Norfolk, CT and New York, NY.