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.

This ideation starts out slow, sputters in the middle but by the last five drawings is becoming really interesting! In my book of the same name for The Art Library in Brooklyn, I've tweaked the ideation by editing out the boring beginning, smoothing out the middle to get to the fascinating end. The point is about getting to those last five images on the bottom line...they're a work unto themselves as well.

By the way, the Broken Obelisk is the second from the left, middle row!
Launch out into the deep and enjoy the ride!

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