SCULPTURE IN THE NEW CENTURY


Material Aspects of the Art


Academic people have argued for decades about the nature of Art, whether it is something built into our nature, along with a sense of the spiritual which seems to have a universal place in human nature, or whether it is a complex accumulated code representing the experience and the quests of a society. A friend recently pondered in a note about art as "something intrinsic to the rearrangement of relationships that we perceive in nature ex post facto.... or relationships we impose on matter from the start, meditated or premeditated", with a comment that there seemed to be no satisfactory answers. I answered him with a reminder of a discussion we had about Art many years ago, sitting beside a lake while the sun was going down orange under the hills. He suddenly said on the impulse: "SEE --- the sun is orange and going down. That is all there is to say, that is art." When all is said and all the discussions and speculative cogitations laid out in order for review, that short remark may be all that is necessary to say.

What goes on in the back of the mind of the artist doing something new is probably not something he will want to talk about often. A certain degree of artistic privacy is part of the process of generating new views, new aspects built on everything that went before. And artists who get involved in defining what their work is about, can get trapped into becoming Critics first, and artists second.

On the other hand there are many finite things which do bear on Art, and these can be discussed as part of the art-making process. I would like to elaborate on a few of these topics, which I find are much on my mind now. Some may be of interest to people who are thinking about Sculpture to view in a museum, outdoor Sculpture Park, on the Internet, or in their own garden or back yard.

The Problem of the Base

The BASE is always a problem for a sculpture. The Greeks needed a base for their athletes, Gods and heroes since the human body tapers down to a pair of tenuous ankles which have to hold up the whole marble-carved mass. Anything that can strengthen the weak lower legs is welcome, Hercules can be leaning on his club, a fold of garment will fix Aphrodite onto her foundation, a Roman emperor can touch the head of a boy who will perhaps be his successor. By the massive exposure of our world since the Renaissance to Greco-Roman artistic ideas, the idea of the BASE as necessary has become an accepted view. The Flag Raisers at Iwo Jima are case together onto a bronze base in one piece, and this is set on a marble base again as part of what a major piece of sculpture is supposed to be.

There is really no reason a piece of modern sculpture cannot be sited directly on the ground. If weight is needed to keep it standing, stone or concrete can go down a few feet (like a house foundation) and the piece anchored with hidden bolts. We do the siting simply and effectively with those fiberglass deer or Jersey cows which some people like on their lawns, they just stand on the grass as deer or cows usually do. Imagine a cow on a base! But a famous Morgan Horse in bronze commemorating the origin of the breed a century and a half ago, has to have a base, and the commemorative bronze head of a famous gorilla who died in the San Diego Zoo is posed on a marble stele at the entrance..... thus a token of respect for the dead, rather than a work of gorilla art. There are more things to say here, some surprising and some foolish, but I maintain that the Base is suspect since it isn't really an artistic part of the artwork it supports.

Business people who work with computers have responded to the ads which point to a small "footprint" for a computer, and the 2002 iMac Apple computer is now nothing more than half a melon supporting a rectangular cafeteria tray in the air. Taking away the unnecessary parts, you can concentrate on the picture. This can be done at times with the sculpture base, and I have designed my Blue Series to be footed on a four inch square of metal, resting on a 16 in disc of white concrete. In fact this round base works nicely with the rectangular proportions of the piece, and I am satisfied with this in favor of a twenty inch marble square. But I would really prefer this six in high disc to be half sunk into the earth, and surrounded by short perennial ever-greens, so the sculpture can rise out of the world of nature as if by its own will. (For this use I have to add another ten inches of height to the low leg to make it come right visually.) For the Cascade series in stainless steel, I do need a visual base since one of the design plans of these pieces is to start the upward lines of the 'spires' about ten inches off baseline, leaving an empty space down there to see through. This makes the 'spries' seem to float on air, before they rise to the reflective plates.The base is the bottom layer of these pieces, an integral part of the design not only as round rather than square, but as white rather than reflective, and massive rather than delicate and airy. So this is not a "Base" at all but part of the piece, probably the best way to deal with the base problem.

The 'Novel' Color of Rust

If sculpture a century ago was all Marble or Bronze, by the middle of the last century it admitted a new spectrum of possibilities. Living in a world dominated by iron technology, we saw rust appearing everywhere sooner or later. Bridges had to be constantly repainted or you saw large patches of RUST. The countryside meadows of Vermont were soon dotted by ancient automobiles slowly disfavoring their paint jobs in favor of RUST. Tin cans which are steel under a film of protective tin or paint, become RUSTY filigrees in time along the roads. Country people despised RUST as much as city people building country homes despised (manure), but suddenly this all changed. A new breed of sculptors armed with the oxy-acetylene cutting torch and the electric arc-welder saw, in the piles of scrap metal rusting away everywhere, a treasure trove of sculptural material. If you asked if you could have some of that stuff out behind the machine shop or fabrication yard, they would say to take it away with a smile, saying it saved them trouble of taking it to the dump. Old steel couldn't fetch a penny a pound, so we new-breed sculptors were in business. And the key to the finished work was to leave it rusty, to celebrate RUST as the new color of the Industrial Society. It was an interesting color then, somewhat surprising and clearly the result of a basic and natural process, so it was very well accepted among the adventurous new thinkers in the world of the New Art.

I can pinpoint the cross-over time pretty accurately at the start of the '70's, when as a result of the Kent State shooting of war protesting students, American colleges went into a week of serious protest. Classes were suspended, discussion groups everywhere vented clouds of anger. In an effort to produce something real and physical to balance the torrent of words, I brought my Westinghouse welder in a truck to our college campus, commandeered electric line to the nearest building, gathered students to haul junk metal out of the college scrap pile, and we set about making a War Protest Sculpture with the aid of every passerby who could hold with some aid a welding torch. War facsimilar cannons, rough edge ripped metal parts, unknown objects all were sutured onto others even less known, and a twenty foot Memorial to Kent State was generated in a couple of days. Students gathered there as the center of Protest, and we were proud of our work. Sculpture was found to have a voice!

The next day the college President called me in a huff and told me that he had been up all night answering phone calls objecting to that pile of rusty metal on campus along a public roadway. I explained the reason as Protest, the work as part of a new attitude toward metal with the hue of natural rust, and assured him that we were in line with an art trend which was going on everywhere. He was flabbergasted. I called him two weeks later, and he said that since student opinion was with me, the piece would be taken to a permanent site on the back of the campus somewhere. I received a note later than the piece had not withstood the transport and had most regrettably fallen to pieces in transit. Sic transit gloria...!

But as the century came to an end, the new Rusty Hue began to wear thin. Like many another discovery it was overused and in the end became trite. In those days a new steel called CorTen was being developed, one which would rust to just about the color of the discovery-generation Artwork, and then remain stable. Soon this was being used for bridges, railings along roads replacing bright galvanized zinc, and in the process ArtRust lost it new and unique position. Someone gave our college a historical piece of the New Art from l973, two rings of heavy rolled steel about 7 ft across, one inside the other and the outside one notched twice. That was all there was! Historical perhaps, but a bore. I cut down two tin cans one inside the other, notched the outer one, and let them rust on my porch, as a private mockery of a public tomfoolery. In l974 I wool have been a Philistine, in 2002 I am backed up by common sense.

Color in Sculpture

About that time I heard of David Smith working over in New York State, how he was using stainless steel and painting some large pieces with bright colored coats. I went over to see him, found him one day very much occupied with his work, but he pointed to the meadow and told me to take a look around. Of course I saw stuff that nobody had seen or even thought of then, massive gleaming pieces in stainless steel scrubbed with abrasive wheels here and then to catch the right glint. And there were pieces in all sorts of bright and light hues strewn about the field, larger and better than what I was doing already, but with the same message of colorfulness. Smith who had been a painter for decades before had gone to steel, and the message was clear : "Color is OK on sculpture. " Coming home I talked with an art historian friend, who assured me that paint on iron was wrong, perhaps enamel but never paint. I persisted with the pieces in the first group from l970 on this website and have never lost my interest in color on sculpture. In another way stainless steel used lightly and brightly is also a wonderful sculptural material.

If steel rusts naturally, paint wants it to never rust again, and there are technical problems in applying it. In the old days I used an acid etch, then automotive sanding primer, then coats of bright lacquer which could be buffed to the shine of a new Ferrari. Those pieces were brilliant in any light, but the lacquer did not survive two decades outside and had to be redone. We now have remarkably durable acid-etch primers from the automotive industry, acrylic and epoxy paint tunable to any conceivable hue and the new paints used on outdoor sculpture can be expected to last a good generation if not abused. Of course vandalism is part of our world by now, but as any auto-repairman knows, dings and scratches can be dealt with very well. Stainless goes the other way, vandals can at best spray over, and some may want to keep it that way as part of a social participation program. But a quart of paint remover will restore the shine..... until the guy with the spray can comes back. Change is part of life, nothing remains pristine, nothing really should.

Siting the Sculpture

When you see a piece of sculpture in a gallery, you see it in a setting where it will never in all probability be seen again. It is like the Porsche in the dealer's showroom. That "site" gives a certain special but temporary emphasis to the car or piece, which raises the question of what the maker had in mind when making it in the first place. The size, height and mass, relationship to base or no-base, the color or reflectiveness...... these are usually in the artist's mid before starting the piece, and this should in in large part determine what kind of setting the piece eventually finds.

There are piece suited to be indoors, probably under four feet in height, while some a little taller can go on a patio or even a porch. But when we go over seven feet we are headed for outdoors, and that means a garden or planted terrace of some sort. Here the site will be defined in term of the nature of the land, whether overgrown Eastern well watered garden space, or deep semi-tropical Southern maze of growth, Western prairie with dry tones of tan and brush, or mountain faced background scenery.... all these things are part of the business of siting. Color can be sympathetic to the surrounding tones and a large piece can be adjusted to virtually disappear, later to be discovered when someone looks around with care. Or a brilliant vertical flash of fire-red can be called on to pull attention to a piece sited in a tropical entourage of leafage. Here the siting may have to be something the artist works with ex post facto, a matter for arbitration between maker and siter. Or the maker can specify what kind of site is required for a piece to show off its nature best, and not every piece can be tone-suited to a prospective owner's tastes.For a sculptor who lives on his work, this can pose a dilemma, should refuse a sale because the buyer wants a different color? Would Rembrandt have repainted a piece in the style of Vermeer for a buyer's taste?

For reflective stainless pieces in the Cascade group, I have found the ideal siting is roughly south-east of the main south-facing windows of my living room. This setup gives a strong reflection on the top panels of the spires, which are polished for reflectivity, throughout the day since these panels address some portions of the overhead atmospheric blue. But in the afternoon the sun shines more and more directly at them, and there is an almost illuminated reflection from all the south windows of the house. This is especially interesting on days when there is a slight breeze to move the spires, so the 'cascade' seems to shimmer like a visual waterfall.

Although Cascade #3 is reflective all in the same directions, it shines brightly from more than forty five degrees either side. However from the straight-on side view, it looks quite different, and the tilted angles now assume a new and different zig-zag pattern of lines rather than plates. I added a strip of bright red to both edges of two of the four spires, which is so narrow that the eye doesn't catch it until you stop and look carefully. This is a nice hidden detail which works only from the see-through side as you walk around the piece, another hidden dimension to discover.

Horizontal and Vertical

When Mondriaan was working out his ideas for painting in the early l920's, he suddenly saw that the world around him was based on two azimuths, the Horizontal like his planar landscape and the horizon itself (the Greeks coined the word as 'the delimiter' against the sky), as opposed to the Vertical axis, on which every plant and tree builds its light-capturing structure. Nobody understood this philosophical orientation to art then or even later in his New York years. But Mondriaan's concepts were later incorporated into design patterns for wall decorations and clothing, and have become one of the standard patterns which our society uses everywhere, indiscriminately. But the core of his original perception is solid and I think it suits large outdoor sculpture very well.

In a sense a TREE is the perfect sculpture. It's base, always a problem for the artist or siting engineer, is firmly there, but it is underground and although invisible something we understand intuitively. Kafka has a little one page story about Trees, which he sees set against a field of snow, looking as if they were cardboard cutouts which you could push over with one hand. But he quickly adds: "That was only the way they seemed!" He plays visually with the idea of base-less trees for a moment, then adds "Of course, not so..." as we return from the world of imagination to reality. Trees do represent complete reality.

Trees have both aziumuths, they must grow upwards to complete for light, they must grow sideways to get more surface in the sun, and the upward as against sideways growth has been shown to approximate the Golden Mean Proportion more of less. Each branch dividing to set out a new venture sideways is also G.M. conscious, so my statement that the Tree is the best evolved sculpture is not without meaning for the artist. On the other hand trees stand on a plane easily, and on a mountainside they assume a small pseudo-plane for a footprint to stand on. --- Now all this can be of use for a person thinking about how to site a sculpture, especially since trees have intuitive that kind of shimmering motion in their leaves which our fast-moving and motion-conscious art seems emulous to follow. A tree can stand still, yet be in conscious motion, which is perhaps why I have always taken pleasure listening to a recording of Mozart while looking at a delicately moving tree's agitation.

Although I was not thinking of trees in constructing the Blue Series pieces, there is some sort of arboreal thinking there in the background. The tree --- upward growing, laterally branching, standing on a small footprint, endowed with green coloration all summer and red-to-orange a short time in the fall ---- the Tree is inevitably a paradigm for my pieces. You may ask: Since the tree world is green, why do I use blue?

A Japanese master painter had just built a new house, and invited his friends to visit and see some of his new painting. They looked quietly but with some confused nods to each other, until one asked the master: "Why did you paint the bamboo red?" The answer : "Because bamboo is not black" settled the matter for those who could understand.

Why do I use blue for "trees"? Because I don't use red for these pieces anymore, although I originally felt redwas the ideas color for this shape. But since red is the opposite of green of the trees on the color chart, and hence color-wise obviously academic, I use blue. Is that satisfactory?

Motion in Sculpture

A paper clip company fifty years ago called its clip by the tradename "Willow", thinking of a willow branch which will "bend but it does not break". Motile sculpture has this matter to deal with, uncontrolled and indiscriminate motion. It must control its motion like the tall and wonderful spires of Rickey or it loses our attention. It may also clang and wake us at midnight, or in a high wind fall apart. I feel that very slow and controlled motion, even just an inch or two of movement, is most interesting since it makes us glance over and look for it. Parts dashing around in the wind are fun at first but not something I would like to live with, but combining motion with reflective panels, and perhaps on occasion just a touch to sound...... all this can work especially well in summer against a backdrop of greenery.

I think that in the area of mobile sculpture, we have gone the full route from Experiment to Exploitation in the market. When Calder first conceived the idea of motile plates touched by the wind, that was a breakthrough in artistic perception, and it is good that many babies looking up from the crib see as their first Work of Art a "Mobile" moving and changing positions continually. But this leaves less room for the sculptor who is putting tougher ideas and materials for something which is peculiarly 'his own'. Ideas get worn out, first trite and then unusable except commercially, and this applies equally in the world of music. Any competent composer can assemble a Mozartian sonata fairly well, but a creative artist will only do this as an exercise or demonstration for his students. Yet when Stravinsky put his hand to l8th century melodies, he was able to make the music of his Classical Period his own, rather than just an arrangement. My Cascade Pieces use motion half a century after Rickey, but it is different and not imitative; so I am using an old tradition on my own new terms. A neo-Calderian sculpture of the future may build on old ideas but in new and personally valid ways. There are no rules in art, hardly even guidelines.

Design versus Execution

I firmly believe that an artist should execute his own work with his own hands, so far as possible. This is not just a matter of artistic honesty, but because in the process, painting a painting or carving out a form from a marble block, things have an opportunity to change, and these alteration of design and aim often are the very things which make the piece individual and alive. Monitoring the work in progress, the maker can revise, edit, expand and alter the whole direction of the work, just as a writer can (and must) continually monitor and edit the progress of his book. With sculpture this act of watching and monitoring is more critical than in painting of writing, since some of the things you do simply cannot be changed in the hard material. Scrapping and starting again can be not only frustrating, it may be costly, so the old adage of the carpenter to "Measure twice, cut once" is indirectly applicable here.

But there are other considerations. If it is the aim of someone to have a Van Gogh to original dimensions in genuine oil paint to hang on the wall, the "Paint by the Numbers" way may be perfectly suitable, and I have seen pieces done this way which were quite nicely done. But I retreat when I consider the picky and thoughtless process, which focuses attention on little numbered areas of the topography which call for specific tubes of mixed paint, while the real "Art" of the situation (the idea, design, layout, color scheme and intended effect) go out the window. Nowadays it is even easier to get a Masterpiece for youyr wall, since color scanning can give a fair reproduction of a painting, and cheap imported scans already framed in disguised woody plastic are available everywhere. So when a person does make a genuine "hand made" work of art, it may have dimensions of thoughtfulness far beyond what we have on the marked as mechanically produced.

But there are areas of art where the artist cannot do it all. The giant Presidential heads on Mount Rushmore are the work of many, although it was the idea of one man who stayed on the job personally hanging in a bucket from ropes until it was done. But in Italy you can take a small plaster model to a professional stonecarver, who will enlarge it carefully and exactly by the "pointing" system and produce a large version suitable for display in a public site. This was formerly the business of international Church Art, a full repertoire of saints for use worldwide, but in the last decades this market has decayed. In another area, an artist can work out a pattern for a piece on his computer, with digitized views from all angles, and this can be digitally enlarged and transferred to a numerical-control machining or cutting center which produces the part in exact size and conformation, ready for assembly as a complete piece after surface finishing. If the piece is fifteen feet tall and weight is ton and a half, there is possibly no other way to do it. But David Smith was doing large piece like this by hand, he had cutting and welding and hoisting equipment in this studio, and the work that came out under his name stands as a personal statement of his ideas and his convictions. Of course different ways suit different kind of people, different kinds of situations.

I recently bought a few pieces from a store, which purchased craft work from all over the world for pennies to sell for a few dollars. The African stuff was largely junk for the tourist trade, but I got a few pieces which were entirely different. These were foot long, very thin standing figures of a woman with jar on head and child on the hip, and one of a very tall and emaciated man. These were very delicately carved from one of those terribly hard African black wood varieties. I thought of the infinite amount of work to carve out an arm only a sixteenth of an inch thick delicately holding a jar on the head, a leg no thicker than a match stick, but so nicely done in detail and contour, that I was sure this came from a real artist carver. A few months later, handling these pieces again, I realized there was no way I could ever think of doing such a piece, I couldn't see how to hold it while slicing away the tough wood without breaking the arms or legs off. But then I saw the trick, in the round integral base piece which was sawed off from an inch and a half branch. The artist work with the rough log starting from the top working down, carving out the jar first, working down to the head with one hand just coming up to hold the jar. Then down to the head, neck and chest, baby hung one side, and so down to the thin legs which were slowly appearing from the top-down, until the carver reached the feet. Finishing the figure there, he got a saw and cut it off from the log.

What interested me was not just the virtuoso carving technique, although that in itself was amazing, as the high quality of this little piece of Sculpture. For it was really Sculpture, not a piece of clever craft-work, and that is why I come back every few days to have another look at it, turn it around for a different view, and take pleasure in feeling some sort of connection to the person who made it in some anonymous village, sitting for days in the sun in a far distant place. The elongated figure is something which must come from the artist's sense of his people, tall and thin and now psychologically towering in his mind. The slow work stretched the figure into an improbable reality, but into psychological vitality was there, and I can only compare Giacometti's elongated bronze figures which so captivated him, a gaunt tall man himself, as he handled rare Etruscan pieces of the same configurations from two thousand years before his time. But the African kept to his hand craftiness, while Giacometti's figures in clay were quick and went easily into the mold for the bronze.

As we became aware of the little metal parts which put our society together, the nuts and bolts of our society, craftspeople with a welder and a little imagination started back in the l960's to make little representational figures out of such parts, usually painted dead black. At first these were fun, it was surprising to see so many possibilities of human shape and action in simple aggregates of mechanically produced [arts from the hardware store. Soon there were skiers, dancers, runners and tightrope balancers swaying on a then steel rod, and the Crafts Movement of metal figurines was born.

It is always a problem to try to distinguish sculpture figures, which may be small and black painted too, from crafts work. I believe we overdid the crafts market badly, flooding the shops with every imaginable sort of human, equine, porcine, avian and dinosaurian figure made up from welded bits and pieces, until they reached an end of practicability, and it was no longer worth making them for an over-stuffed market.

I can confirm this by one little figure, a very nicely made little man reading a book as he walks straight ahead, swinging his upper body as one does walking (there is a spring in the thoracic area), as an excellent example of the better end of the crafts made scene. This is a nice little piece. But I bought this one at a Dollar Store, it is marked under the base as "Made in China", and there was a boxful of ones exactly the same under the counter. For some eager buyer, this would be a fun item for the mantel, for me it was confirmation that the imaginative spirit of those crafts figures is gone. If this can be made in numbers in China and sold for a buck at probably a dime to the maker, it is not the spirit of the l960's crafts-person. It is a commercial product, and as such it is dead.

Materials: Stainless and Cold Rolled Steel

"Stainless Steel" is not a single thing but a whole family of alloys with a wide range of differing uses and properties. Basic to the family is a certain percent of chromium, usually around eighteen percent, and nickel at around eight percent, although other elements can be added in small percentages for special properties. Type 304 is the most common type, it is not magnetic, it resists oxidation adequately for sculptural purposes, and comes in a variety of finishes from rough matte, light matte, to smooth and very smooth ready for mirror polishing. For most sculptural uses light matte is bright enough as it comes from the mill, although grinding the surface with special grits in ribs and swirls creates a variety of effect in sunlight. Mirror polish which is seen in small indoor desktop pieces for gallery display, is not suitable for outdoor use, partly because of cost but also because it glares offensively like a mirror in sunlight. Stainless is weldable with regular stick welding to be ground down, but is best worked with TIG or tungsten-inert-gas (argon) with a special welder, since this gives smoothly rippled welds with no slag and can often be left as welded. I like the ripple of TIG welded stainless, which looks like waves on water or sewing stitches, and think it should often be left as is. After welded material is joined, the weldment shrinks to some degree, which may cant a part (like the spires of my Cascade pieces) completely off line, so the degree of shrink has to be considered to jig the parts up off-line before welding if the result is to be straight. There are lots of little complexities of this sort in working with metal. I like to remember that two joined pieces are joined pieces in fact, and grinding all welds implies that they are one piece in origin, a minor deception perhaps. But no one way rules.

One of the problems working with stainless is that it is not usually available to sculptors in small amounts at an industrial price from wholesalers or the mill. Used stainless from scrap yards is fine but you can't tell what grade you are using and welding may not stay stainless without the right alloy welding rod, which depends on the base material. Then there are finishes, which are determined largely by the roughness of the rollers at the mill in the last pass-through in a hot state, and very smooth finish can only come from smooth processing, which again limits what is available. The 'stainless' or bright finish will last forever, at least in terms of several generations of Man.

For steel which is to be painted, CR or cold-rolled steel is needed, since regular hot rolled common steel has a rolled-in dirty oxide film which will lift paint sooner or later. If rust finish is planned and time to rust out is acceptable, HR is usable, but CR which is harder from the rolling process, and dead smooth with no crust, is preferable at a higher cost especially in thicker plates. The stocking wholesaler usually has a huge shear to cut eight foot strips and folder to bend angles up to 90 degrees at no great cost. And much work can be done with standard size rolled round, square and rectangular bar. CR steel is still the basic material for large outdoor sculpture of all kinds, either natural rust or, in my preference as a base for a variety of colors. If paint is to be used, it has to be applied with care and quite a bit of technology. A special acid and surfactant Cleaner removes any grease or finger marks, an acid wash leaving a phosphate film comes next, nowadays we use a special two part sprayed on Primer which can be joined with an acid etch, and then a paint ranging from two part acrylic to two part epoxy will be as durable as automotive car finish. Simpler paint application with the paint technology of l975 is usable, will last very well under normal conditions, but is not as durable as the new technologies. If you wonder at the cost of a properly finished piece of sculpture, remember how much work and how many processes went into it.

I mention all this because these are invisible factors which the metal sculptor has to deal with, things which a viewer or buyer would have little sense of, let alone how much planning and trouble have been involved before the piece is finished. Metal sculptors will often try to excuse the poor quality of their welds by saying that they work as artists not as welding techologists, which is a bad excuse indeed. It is true that an art weld does not have to be as good in penetration or finish as one on an atomic submarine which will pass surface finish and x-ray testing, but it should be reasonably workmanlike. Good design calls for reasonably good execution, but the man in the factory with all sorts of grinding and polishing equipment is in a different ballpark from the sculptor working in his studio on his own. Taste and judgment about how much time is reasonable to spend before a piece it finished, must rule.

There is always more to say on any complex subject in the Arts, both from design viewpoint and from the mechanical construction angle. In the last analysis, a buyer of a piece of sculpture has to be pleased with its appearance first of all, it can't be bought as an example of something clever or "modern arty" without a personal sense of enjoying looking at it, both now and in the future. Will it wear well? Will it fit the site in garden or house-planning well? Will you stop and look at it in different lights and different seasons and see how it appears throughout the year? Remember a piece of artwork done by someone who took a lot of time to make something to embody a handful of pressing artistic notions, is not a common object in our society. Unlike a book of poetry or a novel, it is not mass-produced, and it cannot be put away on a shelf when you are done with it. But every society from the simplest to the most complex has had is way of saying something, perhaps through color washed on a cave wall, or with the giant megaliths of Easter Island, and that instinct still persists among us. A house should be a sculpture in itself, as my wife and I understood when working on our present home, which has personal elements we devised along with many design factors on loan from the work from Frank Lloyd Wright's later period. But when a house is finished there is limited room for design changes, so one must take possession of the outside areas for continued experiments in new design projects. My sculptures are initally a part of our living quarters, and as I make new series of pieces, I must disperse them to new owners both to make space for new plans, and to recover costs for new work. I do not work with galleries since they raise prices inordinately with their percentage of a sale. I feel sculpture should be an affordable purchase, and I see my sculptures as thoughtful pieces which should go to thoughtful people who will find continual visual pleasure in their presence.

For discussion and information about availability, shipping and price, you can reach me email .




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William Harris
Prof. Em. Middlebury College
www.middlebury.edu/~harris