NEW YORK – Joel Shapiro: Iron and Bronze 1973-76 on view at Craig F. Starr Gallery September 5 through November 1, 2014. The exhibition presents seven cast iron and bronze sculptures from the mid-1970s – two of which will be exhibited for the first time. A fully illustrated catalogue accompanies the show, with an essay by Bill Berkson, poet, critic, professor emeritus at the San Francisco Art Institute and a corresponding editor for Art in America.
Shapiro began working in the late 1960s, at a time when traditional notions of sculpture were being radically redefined by Minimalism and Conceptual Art. In the mid-1970s, following his period of process- and material-based works, Shapiro started to explore the idea of space as a material in itself – “a substance to be expanded or contracted,” as Roberta Smith wrote in 1982 essay. Although small in scale, the dense, cast iron and bronze sculptures in this exhibition command large volumes of space with their physical and psychological presence. They paradoxically insist on an intimate experience while being positioned in a public situation. These emphatic forms resonate with meaning – these “chairs” and “houses” are both personal and universally legible.
Highlights include: Untitled, 1973-74, a three-inch-high cast iron chair; Untitled, 1974, a 27-inch, downturned flange that recalls a roadway and supports a small, house-like structure where it meets the wall; and Untitled, 1974, another dense, bronze, house-like form. All of the works suggest domestic shapes, and most were initially assembled from blocks of wood which were then cast in metal.
Shapiro (born 1941, New York City) received B.A. and M.A. degrees from New York University. His work has been the subject of over 160 solo exhibitions and retrospectives internationally. He has executed more than thirty commissions and publicly sited sculptures in major cities across the globe, and his works can be found in prominent private collections and numerous public collections worldwide. Shapiro lives and works in New York City. This is his second exhibition at the gallery.