The Letting Go

Site specific installation.

Sarah Sze (born in 1969) is internationally acclaimed for her extraordinary, site-specific sculptures constructed from materials that are both familiar and surprising. She is the second artist to participate in the RSVPmfa series, in which the Museum invites artists to respond to and work among its collections, architecture, and landscape in order to acknowledge that art today often extends beyond traditional gallery walls.

Sze grew up in Boston and attended Yale University and the School of Visual Arts, in New York. She credits her training in architecture and painting for her distinctive approach to art. To determine the site for her work at the Museum, she walked throughout the galleries but chose the complex spaces of the West Wing. She was especially attracted to the escalator (somewhat unusual in museum lobbies), and her piece-like the escalator-is about movement through space. She also incorporated fresh flowers, another characteristic aspect of the MFA's public spaces. The circle of brilliant petals surrounding paper and glass on the floor will evolve as new flower arrangements are created for the Museum. A piece of paper magically floats above the petals, pausing and speeding high into the air in response to the movement of visitors and invisible breezes through the doors. With these elements, the central theme of The Letting Go (the name comes from an Emily Dickinson poem) is simply and brilliantly revealed: random and contrasting types of movement through space.

Delicate gestures and an explosion of natural and artificial details carry the viewer through the work, teasing or commanding undivided attention before sweeping into mid-air in one direction and to the floor in another. Unexpected, jittery movement-the result of actual moving parts-is found in details throughout the piece.

Sze describes The Letting Go as "skidding through space." The sculpture is one of her most complicated and inspired efforts-and completely dependent upon the architecture and character of the MFA.


The artist; with Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York; gift to MFA, Boston, September 17, 2003

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Burke, Katherine R. Kirk and Malcolm L. Gefter, the Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser Fund, Rachel and David Fine and The Fine Family Foundation, Audrey and Jim Foster, the Linde Family Foundation, Mr. and Mrs. Martin Hale, an anonymous donor, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Thorne and Marlene and David Persky


Reproduced with permission.

The Letting Go

Medium or Technique
Mixed media
Mixed media
Accession Number
Not on view