New York

Stephen De Staebler

CDS Gallery

A fascination with the winged fragment has endured no doubt since the Samothracian Nike was first reclaimed. The oxymoronic aspect of an earthbound transcendentalism is appealing. Stephen De Staebler’s sculptures are the latest in a spotty filiation that includes Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913, and Mary Frank’s figures. Boccioni attempted to make his Victory whole, but the very speed with which the figure propels itself shreds it. Motionblurred, its features represent also erosion through time duré. De Staebler’s work, like Frank’s, with which it has much in common, orients itself ambiguously to both past and future. Both artists view Victory in retrospect, amputated by the memory of subsequent failures.

It’s interesting that 20th-century Nikes tend to be flayed—the flaps are the wings—as if Modern consciousness cannot separate triumph from physical destruction,

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