Joel Shapiro (American, born 1941), Portland, 2014. Wood, casein, and cord installation, dimensions variable. © Joel Shapiro.


A Conversation with Joel Shapiro

June 19, 2014

Chief Curator Bruce Guenther discusses Joel Shapiro's work with the artist at a Patron Society event celebrating Shapiro's new installation at the Museum.


Joel Shapiro

JUN 21 – SEP 21, 2014

Internationally celebrated sculptor Joel Shapiro has created a new installation work for the Museum’s Contemporary Art Series exhibition. Part of a recent body of work investigating the use of painted wood forms to activate space and dynamically alter the experience of it both in visual and physical terms, the Portland installation will be only the fifth suspended installation he has realized.

Engaging the volume of the Schnitzer Sculpture Court, the suspended elements of the work defy gravity and the traditional restrictions ascribed to sculpture that place it of the ground or pedestal. The painted wood elements visually reorganize the architecture, and are continuously redefining the visitor’s optical and physical relationship to the work and architecture as they move through the work. Shapiro notes that this newest body of work is about “the projection of thought into space without the constraint of architecture.” Animated by position and the exuberantly vibrant colors, the work denies the static nature of sculpture and appropriates aspects of painting to suggest being inside an abstract painting or perhaps a stop-action digital game.

A New York native, Shapiro has had over 160 solo exhibitions and retrospectives and executed numerous public commissions internationally. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was awarded the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2005.

The Contemporary Art Series is curated by Bruce Guenther, The Robert and Mercedes Eichholz Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and is sponsored in part by the Miller Meigs Endowment for the Contemporary Arts and The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

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