Installation view of John Chamberlain sculptures at the Gagosian, all images courtesy of the Gagosian Gallery
Gagosian‘s 24th Street location is currently exhibiting a selection of works by American sculptor John Chamberlain, in conjunction with their show in London, which closed recently. Chamberlain’s industrial-style sculptures are made up of used-car parts that he terms “art supplies,” here he continues a technique begun in the late 1950’s that results in beautiful objects that contrast with the mundane origin of their material. The two Gagosian shows are the artist’s first with the gallery following a rumored dispute over the use of a Belgian fabricator for his most recent pieces, the work was refused by former representation Pace but purchased by Gagosian for $20 million.
More than a dozen sculptures can be seen housed throughout the many rooms of the gallery, and hold a strong presence even among the huge spaces’ whitewashed walls and concrete floors. Despite the industrial medium, the sculptures have an organic feel to them-metals intertwine with each other become lifelike in the resurrected structures, which become emotionally charged in their powerful rips, tears, and expressions of entropy. While some are more monochromatic, many of the works emit bright bold hues (the original colors of the crushed cars), their monumental forms present as tributes to both humanity and industrialization. The moments of shining chrome reflect the viewer and the gallery, grounding the pieces in the space.
Chamberlain’s sculptures are created out of spontaneity rather than pre-prescribed designs as the artist responds to the intricacies of his chosen material. His work as a sculptural formulation of Abstract Expressionism- the artist is considered to have become associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement through his involvement with Black Mountain College in the mid 1950’s, and subsequently moved to New York in 1956 where he began to develop his world-renowned style of creating sculptures out of crushed steel and industrial debris. Chamberlain credits de Kooning as an early influence in his process, and this is clearly visible- notably, at some points, the sculptures become almost painterly in the distinct contrasts between the leftover finishing and matted textures.
The organization and tone of the New York show is almost identical to the one that was concurrently presented at Gagosian’s London location, a one-two punch across the Atlantic. Larry Gagosian is known for corralling the world’s most well-known (and collectible) artists, past and present, and these two shows are clearly celebrating the acquisition of such a colossal cache of work from one of the 20th century’s most influential sculptors. Chamberlain’s move was a bit of coup for Gagosian and garnered some press amongst recent gains such as the estates of both Richard Avedon and Robert Rauschenberg. The exhibition at Gagosian’s 24th street location closes on July 8th.
Exhibition Page [Gagosian Gallery]
Gagosian Snags Global Representation Of Sculptor John Chamberlain [Huffington Post]
Gagosian Gallery Presents “John Chamberlain: New Sculpture” [Whitewall]
June 2011, John Chamberlain @ Gagosian Gallery [Whitehot Magazine]
The Art Assembly Line [Wall Street Journal]
VIDEO: John Chamberlain installing “New Sculpture” at Gagosian Gallery, West 24th Street [FAD]