December 4, 2017
Reuben Nakian, Juno, 1992, bronze, 86 x 90 1/2 x 84 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, 1993.
On this day in 1986, acclaimed U.S. sculptor Reuben Nakian died. Nakian’s bronze sculpture Juno graces the exterior entrance to the BYU Museum of Art. The work, an 8x8x8-foot, 4,900-pound bronze, was lifted by crane onto a pedestal on the east side of the red granite museum. It was placed on July 29, 1993, as part of the inauguration of the newly built museum. The sculpture represents an artistic style based in abstract expressionism, yet with a classical structure that was not embraced by abstract expressionists. Nakian’s thematic exploration extended into the realms of classical mythology, where he probed the mystiques of long-ago civilizations. Juno refers to the ancient Roman goddess, known as a mother, warrior, protector, and the goddess of love and marriage. The sculpture has also become popular at the front of the BYU MOA for the way it seems to echo the shapes of the nearby mountains.
Nakian has had important retrospectives in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and New York City. He also represented American art at the biennials in Sao Paulo and Venice and has many of his sculptures in public places and museums in the United States.