New York

Joel Brody

Among the more remarkable aspects of Joel Brody’s exhibition is the fact that it was ever mounted. Joel Brody’s sculpture is not in the least Hardboiled, New York, In. No fashionable carapace protects these vulnerable bronzes. Nothing would be easier than to reproach Brody. In so many respects his work is derivative—the figure type of Arturo Martini, the classical nostalgia of the Novacentisti, the ancient patina affected by Marini, the arrested adolescent worldweariness perceivable in even so analytic a group, the Scuola Metafisica, and yet others infinitely worse. Still, beneath these easily corrupting influences an authentic talent lies smoldering, an artist with a real gift for the modeling of strong, simplified natural forms.

Brody’s bronzes are all of a uniform, intimate size. They comprise little environments of nude figures, alone or in groups of two, male and female. In practically every case the anonymous, repetitive, adequate figures are given architectural “mises-en-scene” and architectural clues. A woman passes through a doorway, young men rest against the bases of shaftless columns or linger against staircased walls. The indications are reduced and generalized. Brody reconfides a platitudinous secret—that the Italian sunset, warmly laving the stray, casual and noble human figure, is cherished by the Happy Man as among his most precious pictorial fragments of memory.

But the enormous danger is already apparent. These altogether disarming groups skirt being merely classicising mannerism, emotionally forced and vapid. The artist is spared the onus of this charge by virtue of his age. As a young artist Brody still manages to convey a modest, honest strength which testifies to the birth (hopefully) of a sculptor of real power.

Robert Pincus-Witten