Life, like molten glass, is in a constant state of flow. We ebb and rise from hardship to triumph to the everyday in between. Despite the demands of reality, human beings are defined by a quest to live inspiredseeking knowledge, needing peace, and hoping for a few transcendent moments. Beholding the sculpture of Martin Blank is like discovering that message in a bottle. A deft draftsman, Blank infuses his sculpture with both physical and metaphorical marks of his presence. He pours himself into each work with such fervor and intensity that we cannot help but feel the life that is given and honored in each piece.
The bowed figure in the panel Thirsting is a vessel reaching artfully towards golden books. The rawness of her articulated musculature creates compelling tension when set against her graceful posture and the luminous clarity of the glass. She is thirsting for truth and knowledge, looking both inwardly and outwardly for answers to the questions of life. The books, though exquisitely crafted and gilded, are timeworn and ravaged by use and symbolize the elemental human need to tell stories and pass wisdom.
Art is also a mechanism for storytelling. For Blank, being an artist has been a personal journey of salvation that began at age 13, when he would take the bus north to Bostons Museum of Fine Arts for Ralph Rosenthals Saturday studio classes in sculpture. His first sculpture was a figure (a man doing a push-up) and the landscape of the human body has remained a steadfast muse. Throughout the years, his figures have been at times expressionistic (picture Alberto Giacomettis Spoon Figures) and at times abstract, like his monumental Repose in Amber, comprised of five individual elements which visually merge together in a figural form. Recently, he has returned to the figure and imbibed it with the profound narratives of both his own personal history and the universal human experience.
Blank tells his story most pointedly in Dream Sequence, where the book is a body, an armature that protects and supports the head. Blanks recognizable visage emerges from the book, an arterial connection made between the source of knowledge and the artists open-mind. The efflorescent curly hair becomes waves, heralding water as an essential physical element of life but also as a potent universal symbol for life, for purity and profundity, and for the notion that we are in constant motion. A small golden boat filled with wings rides atop those waves, symbolizing his individual life moving through the world with inspiration.
With gestural fluidity, Blanks glass sculptures capture emotions from anguish to exultation, embody metaphors about life and learning, and are a study in the potential of glass. Inspired by the great influences of nature, culture, and the people around him, Blank creates sculptures as imperfectly beautiful as life itself.
, Stockbridge, MA, represents over sixty leading contemporary artists working in glass from around the world. The gallery works with private collectors, museums, and corporations in building collections of art glass sculpture and installations by world-renowned glass artists, including Lino Tagliapietra, Dale Chihuly, William Morris, Dan Dailey, and Dan Clayman. Originally established at this location in1978 as one of the earliest studio glass galleries in the US to show contemporary art glass, Schantz Galleries now features museum-quality glass sculpture and installations year-round.
Continuing through August are the following exhibits:
Martin Blank, Transcendence; Figurative Sculptures
Lyrical Expressions*, the art of José Chardiet
Featured in September: Dale Chihuly, Venetians; Twenty Five Years.