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Askew (work of art)

Artwork Info

Roxy Paine
46 feet, 8 inches (14.23 meters)


Gift in honor of Julia Jones Daniels, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina Museum of Art (1998 to 2002) and member of the Board of Trustees (1983 to 1995)


Key Ideas about this Work of Art

  • This nearly 47-foot-tall stainless steel sculpture branches up and out like a tree. The small differences between branches make the sculpture look like something that grows in nature rather than something made by a machine. The metal surfaces of this sculpture change dramatically with the sunlight. 
  • Artist Roxy Paine often uses industrial building materials to create sculptures of natural-looking objects.
  • The artist calls this style of sculpture a dendroid, which refers to its treelike shape. His sculptures are inspired by trees, but they don’t depict a specific type of tree.
  • Paine’s fascination with dendroids began when he was studying the growth patterns in nature, the brain, and the nervous system.

Learn More

Made from stainless steel, Askew is part of a series of works by American artist Roxy Paine that he describes as “dendroids” — arboreal or treelike forms with elaborate branching structures. Paine’s sculptures are hybrids in more than one sense of the word. They’re inspired by “real” trees but never truthful depictions of actual species. 

Paine’s manmade versions of natural elements blur the boundaries between nature and culture, the natural and the artificial, machine made and handmade. Paine has described his work as, quote, “a collision of the industrial world with the natural world.” Paine often chooses the same industrial materials used in building pipelines and plants for his art. 

The artist has said he takes, quote, “this organic, majestic being” and breaks it down “into components and rules. The branches are translated into pipe and rod.”

The Museum’s now-retired Director of Planning Daniel Gottlieb remarked that the installation of Paine’s Askew was challenging. It arrived in several pieces, and once the crew had assembled Askew, they were ready to install it. When they lifted the sculpture by crane, dangling it a few feet above a special base, they realized that the base wasn’t adequate. It would need to be adjusted while the sculpture hung in mid-air for the next 24 hours.

Eventually, once the sculpture was in place, Paine and his team welded the remaining branches, and Askew was set and ready for visitors to enjoy.

tags: perception, reflection, variation, seasons, environmental science, biology

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  • A silver tree-like sculpture on a grassy hill. The sculpture has a thick trunk and thin, barren branches. There is a white building and a blue sky in the background.