SCULPTURAL SPIRES in Stainless Steel
Still some people are unsure if stainless is appropriate outside the kitchen , or on the other hand if color on sculpture is really proper. Sculpture in America right after l950 was in patinated bronze or as a New Thing, that natural oxide of iron we call RUST, but that began to change quickly. But David Smith turned aside in those days from painting to making large sculptures with the shine of stainless steel, or colored with sprayed on coats of bright paint. Remember that Greek Ionic maidens, now bleached white in museum collections and in our imagination, were fully painted with at times more fee to the painter than the carver. Dull and subdued hues may suit the timorous, but light and color are everywhere in our society now. I might well quote the Greek poet Pindar who enthusiastically said "Long live the brightness...."
These three pieces completed in 2002 are about 100 inches tall, using thin bars of stainless steel standing off a frame on a 16 inch round base. The vertical 'spires' are stainless which is bright but shows as a lightly reflective gray, while the canted angles toward the top are polished in a special way to reflect the maximum light from the sky throughout the day. The spires are attached at the base in a way that makes them seem to float on air, since they are supported by non-reflective , vanishing bars. These three pieces reflect in different directions with the light, the left-most piece has a wider angle of view, while the right one is a virtual cascade of light from the top. The spires respond to wind with very slight and controlled motions, which provides an interesting variation in shape and also continually changes the reflection. The pieces must be sited carefully in respect to verticality, since they are poised as delicately vertical to be responsive to slight breezes, while in strong wind they move actively while shifting the reflections back and forth. The images here with low Web resolution do not catch the reflections at all; seen on a bright afternoon, the shimmer of the reflections is astonishing.
The left piece in the above picture is designed to face and reflect in several directions, the bars facings slightly askew from each other in order to give a wider range of reflective view. But this as all pieces in this series can be seen from the back with an entirely different range of reflections. This one works nicely in wind, the tallest spire has a great deal of flexibility in the breezes and seems to almost gallop in strong blasts of weather. If placed in a garden or courtyard it can be seen from several house windows with slight changes of attitude, which makes it a very interesting sculpture.
The left and middle piece in the group view above, both in Massachusetts now, have reflective planes facing in the same directions, but the reflections are viewable from right and left as well since they point up to the sky. The tall spires have the most motion, and seem to float above the others in a breeze, while the display of all the reflective panels virtually cascades from top down in a continual, slightly moving sweep of light. At l04 inches tall, this is a bright and impressive piece, which seems to rest on air before attaching to the round base piece.
But seen from the back, the reflections are all rearranged, and have a very different identity looking up at the sky. More intense in direction that the above piece, is is best sited where it will be viewed frontally or backwards, but view from right and left angles is still bright. Two of the spires have a touch of red color on the sides of the bars, so when seen laterally, the images changes to thin lines with a touch of color, a subtly different picture from the frontal panel display. It is very hard to get a proper photograph of bright reflection in motion, and these small pictures should be seen merely as an introduction.
Seen close up, the cascading light on this piece is impressive,. The piece seems to gather force as it descends from the top, gently moving in a breeze and changing the brightness of the various reflective surfaces. Designed to be viewed from either the front or back, it has a wide range of angular views which change the arrangement of the plates as you walk around to right of left. Again the spires have a floating quality above the block base, and there is a surprising difference in afternoon light, when the angles plates reflect much more than the vertical spires, which show more of a grayish tone. As you walk closer you look up to this view which reaches up to over l00 inches height. Seen from the side you catch a touch of red paint on the edges of the bars which now look line lines, but moving further around you find a new display of reflections from the back side. This piece is still here and available.