The J. Paul Getty Museum

Gandydancer's Dream

Object Details


Gandydancer's Dream


Mark di Suvero (American, born China, 1933)






Painted steel

Object Number:



170.2 × 226.1 × 132.1 cm, 529.3477 kg (67 × 89 × 52 in., 1167 lb.)


Courtesy of Mark di Suvero and Spacetime C.C.

Credit Line:

Gift of Fran and Ray Stark

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Object Description

Formed from a disparate array of geometric shapes, this painted steel sculpture resists straightforward description. From a parallelogram-shaped base emerges a circular form inset with thin beams evoking the hands of a clock. A pair of black beams, shaped like an "L" on its side, juts away from the circle. At the top of the work, balancing on a thin black pin, fancifully cut forms interconnect to create a roughly circular shape. This circle includes the sculpture's one piece of recognizable imagery--an oversized pair of pliers.

The myriad elements of Mark di Suvero's sculpture are sharp-edged and roughly formed. But viewed as a single object, the piece takes on an almost poetic wholeness. This unity is enhanced by the works kinetic properties. With the thick black beam serving as an essential counterbalance, many of the piece's surfaces can be set in gentle motion by the lightest touch or breeze. Despite variations in size and shape, the forms move in the same time and rhythm.

"Gandy dancer" is a slang term for a railroad maintenance worker originating in the late 1800s. Gandy dancer crews were known for accompanying their laborious, repetitive work with singing and dancing. Although the connection between this abstract work and its title is elusive, the jagged steel of di Suvero's sculpture and its kinetic elements can be related to the rhythmic labor on the railroad.

- 1988

Oil and Steel Gallery, sold to Eugene Klein, November 30, 1988.

1988 -

Eugene Klein, upon his death, held in trust by the estate.

- 1991

Estate of Eugene Klein, sold to Fran and Ray Stark, June 17, 1991.

1991 - 1992

Fran Stark and Ray Stark, upon the death of Fran Stark, retained by Ray Stark.

1992 - 2004

Ray Stark, upon his death, distributed to the Ray Stark Revocable Trust.

2004 - 2005

The Ray Stark Revocable Trust, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum.


Boström, Antonia, ed. The Fran and Ray Stark Collection of 20th-Century Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 66-69, no. 5, entry by Christopher Bedford.

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Education Resource




Working with Sculpture

Brief overview of the history of Western sculpture; resource for a K-12 curriculum about sculpture.