NEW YORK.- Lori Bookstein Fine Art is pleased to present the work of Jonathan Silver (1937-1992), in an exhibition of plaster and bronze sculpture spanning from the 1970s, during which the artist was devoted mainly to his development of breakthrough Cubist heads, through the last decade of his life, in which he shifted his attention to the entire human figure. This is Silver's first solo show at Lori Bookstein, following a two-person show of his plaster heads alongside the paintings of Alfred H. Maurer in 2003.
Silver did not seriously begin his art career until he was nearly thirty, in the midst of his graduate studies at Columbia University. Although he was enrolled in the Art History program under Meyer Schapiro, the drawing classes he was taking with Peter Agostini and a growing desire to be making art rather than to be studying it led to the abandonment of his dissertation on Giacometti. For the first fifteen years of his career, a preoccupation with the head, usually male, provided him with the means by which to literally break open sculpture. Working in close collaboration with a fellow Columbia sculptor, Christopher Cairns, the two engaged in a synergistic exploration of how to apply the concepts of Cubism to sculpture. The result is not Cubist sculpture, exactly, but work that, while being in the round, arrives at much of its power through the collage-like, and two-dimensional, synthesis of Cubist painting. A strong sense of frontality in many works results, which Silver exploited ever more so as he transitioned to the elongated, columnar forms of his late figures. Frequently, a feeling of confrontation is achieved, no less between viewer and object as between the sculpture with its classical predecessors.
To arrive at his end, Silver often found it necessary to pioneer new possibilities for the process of casting and sculpture making itself. The seams left behind from two-sided molds are not only preserved but encouraged, parts of the interior armatures or supporting burlap are made to show through, and foreign materials are assimilated unhesitatingly. Most instrumental of all was the technique of reincorporating a sculpture's negative space literally, its own mold back into itself. "Head," a larger-than-life plaster dating from 1974, is composed of, on the right half, an abstracted, nearly featureless bisected globe, from which two smaller, elliptical disks have been molded, reversed, and reattached to the left side. A group of three torsos, titled "Half Eve" (all 1979), utilize similar re-appropriations to develop the series.
While sometimes basing his heads upon real individuals, those in the exhibition tend to be abstract depictions. Silver's turn in the 1980s towards specified biblical and mythological beings lent themselves well, however, to becoming canvases for the artist's own tempestuous psychological state. Works embodying an Amazon, a slain Niobid and Medea transmit strikingly this fervor and pathos.
"Jonathan Silver: Sculpture" be on view through Saturday, April 12th, 2008. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30am to 6:00pm.