Sunday, April 28, 2013

Discovering the Broken Obelisk

A sculpture by Barnett Newman, an Abstract Expressionist painter, a precursor to Minimalism; “The Broken Obelisk” is a geometric steel work residing in the courtyard of Mark Rothko’s Chapel in Houston, Texas.

Interestingly, the work was originally installed at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Located on the corner of 17th Street and New York Avenue, NW, it was essentially at the entrance of the Corcoran College of Art and Design. My Alma Mater! Displayed there in the late 1960’s “The Broken Obelisk” was considered very controversial, seen as a reference to the Washington Monument and the social discord of the era.

I did visit the Rothko chapel during a short stay in Houston, however my path to realizing the piece followed a study of line drawings based on the square, and its axis’.

 Discovering the piece didn’t have to do with seeing the sculpture. Discovering that it was hidden deep inside the square, only to be found by deconstruction…an excavation…that was exciting!  Recognizing it, discovering it through a process of ideation, in the process of searching out an idea was more than a surprise.
Believing that something worthwhile will be had in searching out the basic, the fundamental, the essential, before you see it, is perhaps the important point here. 

Hope believes that vision will play out meaningfully, given the chance; even in the simplest exercise.

Ideation Drawing, 2013, 8 1/2" x 11"

Studies for "Discovering the Broken Obelisk", 2013, The Art Library, Brooklyn, NY

Who knew that this ideation would lead to a complete break from 25 years of abstract expressionist/surrealist artwork?  Nearly 5 years later I continue investigating related imagery alluding to order and peace beyond our everyday experience.

"Oblique Tetrahedron", 2017, 36", Welded Steel with Powder Coat Finish,  © James Thatcher


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