San Francisco

“Sculpture for São Paulo”

San Francisco Museum of Art

The Walker Art Center of Minneapolis was charged with the task of selecting sculpture to represent the United States in the São Paulo Bienniel. The collection traveled to the San Francisco Museum.

A special closet was constructed to house David Weinrib’s plastic, wood and metal spatial sculpture which, is bolted and screwed into elbowing pro­jections and platforms. These, and the wood sculpture of George Sugarman, were painted bright colors, Weinrib’s color being like farm machinery, Sugar­man’s rather chemical. Sugarman’s wood pieces are assembled from many parts of several sorts: carved organic forms counterpoised against long sawed boards and hard nests of jigsaw scrap.

In the grim and sinister department was Robert Mallary’s scarecrow Blue Angel of plastic-and-dust-impregnated giant’s tuxedo, and several other charred horrors. Linsey Decker con­ceives his grotesque images not from death and destruction, but from birth and the world of the id. Zygote is a visceral monster from the modeling table, cast in bronze.

The much publicized George Segal’s plaster woman was sitting on her real bed. The museum roomed off a sec­tion of the gallery to give her privacy, and complete the atmosphere of spe­cious routine. Peter Agostini also casts directly from natural objects, but eggs, milk cartons, gloves, and rags on a clothes line are the elements from na­ture which he chooses to transform. Julius Schmidt makes cast heads me­chanized with the imprint of small ma­chine parts, but expressing utter im­mobility. James Wines has embedded machine parts (and invented p’arts which look like machine parts) in mon­umental concrete forms. Lyman Kipp’s blocky architectural castings with pro­jections and cantilevers are pure ab­stract monumentality.

Chryssa concentrates on the sym­metrical; often the whole is the sum of many of the same parts lined up to form a large letter or emblem. One piece varies this system: it is a con­struction of commercial signs only slightly more concentrated than we see them everyday. This assembly adver­tised a product called “te hi” and “gas” with the alphabet troughs empty of their neon, but “air” has a cool blue neon tube.

All of this work is identifiable as ori­ginal work representing defined and consistent styles (in some cases too consistent with little extension or variation from the prototypes). But why did the Walker people choose to leave out important new work from various parts of the country and con­centrate on New York? Perhaps it is time that the San Francisco Museum, which is so often the recipient of pack­age shows, should originate a show of the remarkable sculpture being done here. Minneapolis may not even be aware of Ario Acton, Seymour Locks or Robert Hudson, to say nothing of São Paulo: And why wasn’t John Cham­berlain among those selected? Would Italy leave out Giacometti?

––Knute Stiles