For centuries artists have cast their clay and plaster sculptures in bronze to endow their art with durability. Yet bronze casting holds an inherent paradox for the modern artist. On one side, the romantic notion of authorship favors the model as the true work of art bearing the hand of the artist. On the other, aesthetic conventions of finish and patina favor the bronze. Although artists like Rodin and Brancusi have explored the tensions between these two poles, most artists privileged one aspect over the other until, in the Postwar period, a diverse group of artists started to dismantle the dichotomy of original and copy.
Found, Made, Cast presents the work of three artists —Nancy Graves, Jasper Johns and Roy Lichtenstein— who pioneered new approaches to casting in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. These artists rethought the status of cast bronze sculpture, in a way such that their initial model possessed all the conceptual properties of the subsequent metal versions. To emphasize this point, the exhibition presents a range of works prior to their being cast in bronze or assembled in completed sculptures.
Nancy Graves (1939 – 1995) is represented in the show by a variety of bronze casts of art historical objects made in the early 1990s at Walla Walla Foundry, Washington State. These works have never been exhibited before.
Jasper Johns (b.1930) is represented by plaster sculptures dating from 1958 to1961. Some of these plasters were exhibited before their bronze version, some were exhibited after their bronze version, and some performed an intermediary role as a mold of a sculpt-metal painting later cast in bronze.
Roy Lichtenstein (1923 – 1997) is represented by painted wood works which preceded bronze sculptures. In 1976 Lichtenstein began to translate imagery from his still life painting into three dimensions. He conceived a process in which a painted wood model was cast in bronze using the lost wax technique at the Tallix art foundry. The original wood and the editioned bronze are nearly identical in size, form, and appearance.
Found, Made, Cast will be a platform for an inquiry into the methods that artists devise to create forms that maintain their integrity while journeying across media.
A catalogue with an essay by Dr. Daniel Belasco will be published on the occasion of the exhibition.
The exhibition is facilitated by the Nancy Graves Foundation and the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation.