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Dictionary for Building: Fireplace Mantel

A work made of painted wood, mirror, and plexiglas.
© Siah Armajani

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  • A work made of painted wood, mirror, and plexiglas.




Siah Armajani
American, born Iran, 1939-2020

About this artwork

Siah Armajani’s affinity for interior and public architecture is articulated in this sculpture, one of his early works from his Dictionary for Building sculpture series, in which he combines text from Robert Frost’s poem, The Hill Wife (1916) with abstracted, yet recognizable furniture or architectural objects, in this case a fireplace mantel. The poem’s text about a couple’s uneasy relationship with their home expands upon Armajani’s interpretation of a mantel as a dynamic structure—as opposed to a fixed centerpiece or sentimental hearth—to be moved through and around. Mirrors, which conventionally are installed above a fireplace, are angled inwards to reveal otherwise imperceptible aspects of the structure. For the artist, sculpture was “not a thing between four walls in a geometric spatial sense but a tool which directs us into a place for living, sitting, resting, reading, eating, and talking,” suggesting a symbiotic relationship between furniture, sculpture and architecture.


Currently Off View


Contemporary Art


Siah Armajani


Dictionary for Building: Fireplace Mantel


Iran (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Painted wood, mirror, and Plexiglas


238.8 × 234.9 × 90.2 cm (94 × 92 1/2 × 35 1/2 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Society for Contemporary Art

Reference Number



© Siah Armajani

Extended information about this artwork

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