The Problem with Sculpture…

rockwellHow do you live with your art? This may seem like an obvious question, but it bears consideration. For some, art is simply a decoration of the wall or an object on a table that demands little from us other than the occasional dusting or re-framing. The ‘aesthetic experience’ of viewing and appreciating art can range from a cursory glance to outright intimidation that sends some viewers into apoplectic fits. Who among us hasn’t stood in awe of an art work, or in baffled confusion at some conceptualism, or bent sent into peels of nervous giggling at something ‘revealing’? But such experiences can be isolated and confined, and a museum or gallery visit isn’t the same as the personal decision of buying a piece of work and finding a place for it in your home; and more so when it’s an object one could stub a toe upon in the middle of the night.

I have often wondered, when I see paintings by some favorite artist that are 9, 10 or even 20 feet in length, who on earth was this made for? Who could buy such a thing and have it in their home?


Of course, I eventually learned that such homes do exist, but that the actual intended destination among many of those sorts of artists was not homes at all, but museums and vast galleries, and places like corporate lobbies and such. But the average collector has very specific dimensions in mind, and whereas walls have numerous options for placement of rectilinear, or even eccentrically shaped works, sculpture poses a different dilemma. Being 3-d, sculpture literally ‘lives’ in our spaces with us and makes us adjust ourselves for it. Artists like Richard Serra even go out of their way to make monolithic creations that force us to move in and around their sculptures and contend with our own sense of scale in sometimes uncomfortable ways. SerraClaes Oldenburgh presents us with enormous replicas of commonplace objects, as if discarded by a giant, and Christo has wrapped whole buildings in his career of sculpture underscoring both that which is hidden and also confrontational.

So, the collector of sculpture is special, as they navigate all the usual questions of taste and scale, but then also how they will move around the new object that they have chosen to share their space with. Ceramics are often utilitarian or based upon such familiar forms and functions and wood has an organic warmth and familiarity, but glass and metal, especially when it is larger than an average bread box, can be an intimidating challenge.

The work of John “Lebo” Lebowitz falls into just such a category. JL HeadshotMade from metals, stretched, pounded, poured, cut and formed into objects reaching a couple of feet into the air, they demand a particular attention from the viewer as their surfaces reflect or absorb the light. Decidedly abstract, Lebowitz lets the material express its self, even incorporating ‘slag’ (the leftover dross of a pouring) or wood, burned and sanded and painted to bring out a rich grain. This is form that embraces its natural character while bending to the artist’s desire to express very human gestures. A picture, in the end, is just that, a picture, even for artists who confront ‘flatness’ or build sculptural texture, and so they can be dismissed as any other image assaulting one’s vision; but a sculpture is a reality in itself. It speaks and stands in your environment and isn’t easily ignored. The relationship for the collector can therefore be deeply personal, and for sculptures like those made by Lebowitz this is especially true as suggested by some of the names: ‘Spooning’, ‘Commingling’ and ‘Dwelling’.

If you haven’t collected much sculpture or have stayed in the relative safety of turned wood or clay, maybe now is a good time to try something new and consider one of the works by John at the Blue Door Gallery. He is leaving our collective to focus on some new projects and so now is a great time to pick up one of his works while he is feeling motivated to make space in his studio. Many are modest in proportion and can occupy many different settings and an interior enlivened by the presence of a sophisticated sculpture can do wonders for your design. Who knows, it may start you down a whole new path of acquisition as you embrace the personality of a Lebowitz. Stop in, open up to a new experience and let us introduce you!

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