Wednesday, 17 May 2017

A way with junk yard parts, fluorescent lights and lumber

Found in America at Waddington Custot shows us the work of three American sculptors who, inspired by the stuff of the rapidly industrialising US of the early 20th century, in the process forever changed the art of sculpture itself. The gallery is to be congratulated for assembling a show of the works of these Titans - John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin and Robert Indiana - each of whose work, by its boldness, enabled the eye of surely every artist since.

John Chamberlain, 1927-2011, image courtesy of Wikipedia

John Chamberlain's work is marvellous in its sensibility. taking the already ground-breaking 1940s abstract expressionist painting of the time into a further dimension, that of sculpture.  Shown below is Abby Cassidy, made from painted steel, the metal configured and interlaced in a way that as you gaze into its depths, offers a new delineation of volume. Tate Britain has two of his works from the 1960s.

John Chamberlain, Abby Cassidy, 2006, painted
and chromed steel © 2017 Waddington Custot 
Gallery reference B44034

Chamberlain''s raw materials are pieces of scrapped automobiles he selected from the mechanical car crushers of the time. As early as 1961 the works were shown at MOMA, alongside works by Duchamp, Picasso and Braque. 


 Dan Flavin, 1933-1996, Image courtesy of Wikipedia

I love the work of Dan Flavin. What he did with off-the-shelf fluorescent tubes and a limited colour range has never ceased to amaze and inspire me. I don't know what is at work: the physics of light; the chemistry of light; the physics and chemistry of its industrial production . . .? It all seems simple yet the effect on the optic nerve is profound. Waddington Custot have three works on show "monument" to V. Tatlin (1968), Untitled (1969), and Untitled (to Véronique) (1987). Even if you can't buy, go and see. Your optic nerve will thank you.

 "Robert Indiana [b. 1928] working in Maine" (Photo  courtesy Charles Rotmil, via Wikipedia)

Robert Indiana is our third American sculptor. Indiana, along with Dan Flavin and John Chamberlain, was one of the precursors of this paradigmatic shift in sculptural practice. The Waddington Custot exhibition shows three of his works from the 1960s and early 1970s. Here he recycled sections of wooden roof beams into sculpture. He adds rusted iron wheels and paints on alphanumeric symbols using stencils from commercial signs and packaging, all the materials 'found' and 'repurposed'. His interest in typography led him to create, in 1958, his well known 'Love' image where the letters LO, the O slanting, are stacked on top of the letters VE. Often reproduced, a version of this image can be seen in the complementary exhibition mentioned above at the British Museum. Waddington Custot also show his number sculpture ONE through ZERO (2003) made from panels of Cor-ten (marine grade) steel.

Until Saturday 01 July
Found in America
Monday to Friday, 10am to 6pm
Saturday, 10am to 4pm


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