New York Art@Site Joel Shapiro Untitled

Joel Shapiro



Warren Street
H.W. Janson, Anthony Janson (2004):
The leading representative of Post-Minimalism is Joel Shapiro (b. 1941). Post-Minimalism means the gradually moving away from Minimalism without abondoning it altogether.
After producing small pieces having great conceptual intensity and aeshetic power, Shapiro suddenly began to make sculptures of simple wood beams that refer to the human figure but do not directly represent it. They assume active "poses", some standing awkwardly off-balance, others dancing or tumbling, so that they charge the space around them with energy.
Shapiro soon began casting them in bronze, which retains the texture of the rough wood grain. These pieces reassert the traditional craft of sculptrue in being hand-finished with a beautiful patina by skilled artisans.
By freely rearranging the vocalulary of David Smith, who experimented with such a figure before his death, Shapiro gave Minimalist sculpture a new lease on life. Nevertheless, his work remains one of the few successful attempts at reviving contemporary sculpture, which as a whole has found it difficult to chart a new direction.
Joel Shapiro (born September 27, 1941 New York City, New York) is an American sculptor renowned for his dynamic work composed of simple rectangular shapes. The artist is classified as a Minimalist as demonstrated in his works, which were mostly defined through the materials used, without allusions to subjects outside of the works. He lives and works in New York City. He is married to the artist Ellen Phelan.
While serving his Peace Corp time in India, Shapiro saw many Indian art works, and has said that "India gave me the sense of ... the possibility of being an artist." In India "Art was pervasive and integral to the society", and he has said that "the struggle in my work to find a structure that reflects real psychological states may well use Indian sculpture as a model." His early work, which also drew inspiration from Greek art, is characterized by some by its small size, but Shapiro has discounted this perception, describing his early works as, "all about scale and the small size was an aspect of their scale". He described scale as "A very active thing that's changing and altering as time unfolds, consciously or unconsciously," and, "a relationship of size and an experience. You can have something small that has big scale." In these works he said that he was trying "to describe an emotional state, my own longing or desire". He also said that during this early period in his career he was interested in the strategies of artists Robert Morris, Richard Serra, Carl Andre, and Donald Judd.
By the 1980s, Shapiro began to explore larger and life-size forms in pieces that were still reminiscent of Indian and Greek sculpture but also inspired by the early modernist works by Edgar Degas and Constantin BrĂ¢ncusi. The bulk of these pieces have been commissioned or acquired by museums and galleries. Later, Shapiro further expanded his repertoire by creating pieces that depicted the dynamism of human form. For instance, his subjects were portrayed in the act of dancing, crouching, and falling, among others that explored the themes of balance, cantilever, projection, and compression. His later works can have the appearance of flying, being impossibly suspended in space, and/or defying gravity. He has said about this shift in his work that he "wanted to make work that stood on its own, and wasn't limited by architecture and by the ground and the wall and right angles." These can be demonstrated in the case of the large-size outdoor art he made for the Hood Museum of Art. The bronze piece was an attenuated form that leans over a walkway and its near-falling form is viewed as an energizing element in the museum's courtyard. This sculpture, like all of Shapiro's mature works, are untitled.