John Chamberlain presented a delicacy in his work that was brought about by seemingly hard, sturdy materials. Most known for sculptures that were arranged from discarded car parts, Chamberlain consistently returned to these metal and steel materials throughout his career, experimenting with various forms of assemblage along the way. With the energy of Abstract Expressionists and the obscured structure of Cubism, his three-dimensional sculptures embrace unassuming everyday items and give them new life and meaning.
Through October 28, Gagosian Gallery exhibits some of Chamberlain’s rarely seen sculptures: a series of steel masks from the 1990s, on view for the first time, as well as abstract wall sculptures created between the 1970s and 2000s.
Chamberlain’s first mask, constructed from cut and painted metal, was made for Victim Services in 1991 and donated to its benefit auction that provided aid to victims of sexual assault. From then, he continued to experiment with producing these masks and used opus numbers as the title for each work. This choice aligns the intricacy and complexity of the mask with the same elements of a musical arrangement – carefully positioned metal; a composition of nails in the place of facial hair and crowns.
Chamberlain slowly unraveled the tough exterior of strong items – seemingly indestructible metal was crushed, bent, painted and welded – through his delicate renderings. As such, he proved these indestructible items to be vulnerable after all. With this process, he infused new form, surface and color into the materials, and gave discarded items a new home within his multidimensional collages.
“Masks” is on view through October 28 at Gagosian Gallery, located at 980 Madison Avenue, New York. For more info visit Gagosian.com.
Featured artwork // Artwork © 2017 Fairweather & Fairweather LTD/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo by Rob McKeever. Courtesy Gagosian.