March 15, 2019
Vasari Diary: On John Gibson (1933–2019), Rob Wynne, Jane Benson, Robert Murray, and Film Forum
ArtNews, 03/15/2019
Barbara A. MacAdam

ArtNews, 03/15/2019
Barbara A. MacAdam

Jonathan D. Lippincott on Sculptor Robert Murray

In a public-art sculpture, the Post-Minimalist sculptor Robert Murray explains in an interview in Robert Murray: Sculpture, a new monograph by art director, curator, and designer Jonathan D. Lippincott (Design Books), “What you want is for the piece to look convincing, like it was meant to be there, and not just plunked down and left. In an ideal situation you work with an architect and integrate the sculpture into the site plan at the very beginning. The important thing is that the opinions of each person are being respected.”

Murray is clear and plainspoken, and always ready with unexpected twists and insights, just as his work is. Born and raised in Canada, he brought that culture to bear on the cutting-edge American creative landscape in the 1960s and ’70s in New York, with friends and mentors who included the likes of Barnett Newman and David Smith.

Elucidating the evolution of Murray, the sculptor, and the nature of life in Canada and New York at a time when abstraction was dominating the landscape, is a text by Lippincott, whose father founded the eponymous sculpture fabrication company.

Murray’s sculpture is explored in photographs dominated by saturated colors and assertive shapes. The large, uncanny primary-colored sculptures bridge hard-edge and slightly crumpled steel forms.

With pictures of nearly 200 works that quietly converse with the history of modern art, including the paintings of Newman, Matisse, and Stuart Davis, we are given a broad overview of Murray’s concerns—his process, materials, and inspirations. And in a long and insightful discussion with Murray, Lippincott extracts insights into the nature and readings of sculpture. At the same time, Lippincott provides a social document, revealing the lives and concerns of the times. Like many of his cohorts, Murray is particularly interested in flying and, as in the work of the late David von Schlegell and Steve Poleskie, we can perceive the suggestion of motion and the awe inspired by the breadth of landscape, a sense of a romantic minimalism.

Back on the ground, Murray speaks about the tipi structure made by Native people in Saskatchewan. The tipi is an architectural form that inspired many of Murray’s own sculptures in clay, leather, and later bronze. Murray said, “I suppose a lot of my work has ended up having an interior and an exterior aspect to it: in some cases you can get into a sculpture to explore it, and in other cases you walk around the piece and see it from afar. That dialogue between those two experiences really tells you what the piece is about, and the tipi form becomes less important.”

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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