New York

William Stone

Tom Cugliani Gallery

The absurdist sculptures of William Stone confront us with an utter lack of functionality. Working with wood, brass, copper, and various domestic and industrial objects, Stone creates quirky, self-contained inventions. His perfectionist sensibility gives the work an air of importance that exceeds its actual usefulness. Stone revels in a clean, forthright style. Many of the pieces seem to embody contradictions; the newness of the wood often conflicts with the outdated machine elements. Most of the works’ references exist outside specific art-world contexts.

Stone’s meticulous objects seem to take on specific but purposeless roles. Six-Wind Cabinet (all works 1988) consists of six sleek pale-wood panels set on pivots. Above each panel is a gray industrial blower that keeps the panel doors in delirious flipping motion. The synchronous movement of these whipping, slapping objects and the rhythmic sounds created by this movement give the work a strangely poetic quality.

Stone’s brand of skepticism is strongly in evidence in Vicious Circle. This piece represents endgame conceptualism with a bite. Three troughlike wooden containers house a long copper pipe running through one unit to the next like a conduit. The pipe curves systematically up to the wall, where it travels through a set of three wall-mounted wood containers. The simple clarity of this circular trap is as beautiful as it is brutal. Beyond its bizarre quality, Stone’s work is often strongly romantic as well. This is evident in the most attractive, powerful piece in the exhibition. In Dreams Begin Responsibilities consists of a set of wooden stairs contained between two brass bedposts. The base of the bed faces the viewer; the stairs rise up until they reach the middle of the wall, where the back bedpost stands up- right on a pedestal. A tasteful woolen runner travels up the steps, carrying the viewer’s eye up an unusual path to a dead- end destination. This bed does not offer repose but instead implies a need to move and work. The fact that the piece is off limits to human interaction makes its potential use all the more compelling.

Jude Schwendenwien