Jake Grossberg belongs to the generation of sculptors who began working in steel during the late ’50s. In contrast to his peers, however, he did not adhere to a strictly formalist esthetic. He avoided the Minimalists’ reductive response to David Smith’s late work and was less concerned with the idea of an individual work presenting discrete views than with the abstract representation of natural forms. This interest in pictorialism led Grossberg to deal with some of the same problems that Smith wrestled with in the ’40s. During the ’60s and ’70s, Grossberg welded steel plates and tubing together to evolve a wittily ironic sign system that referred to, among other things, waterfalls, flowers, and mountains. Then, in the early ’80s, he began reexamining the conventions underlying sculpture and painting while continuing to focus on nature as a source for both images and forms.
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