Sunday, April 7, 2013

John Storrs and his Forms in Space

Forms in Space No. 1
John Storrs was one of America's foremost modernist sculptors. Born the son of an 'architect turned real estate developer' in 1885 , by 1911 Storrs was studying sculpture in Paris under Auguste Rodin. Throughout his career Storrs gradually moved from representational sculpture and wood engravings to the machine-like sculptures for which he is best known. Storrs developed a unique approach to sculpture that acknowledged historical influences ranging from Native American ceramics to ancient Egyptian and Greek stone carving. In the 1920's, Storrs combined these along with influences from avant-garde artwork in Europe, skyscraper architecture in America and stylization elements of Art-Deco to create sleek tower-like forms derived from his imagination. Storrs shirked marble, an academic medium that was chained to a classical style, in favor of working in materials more associated with industry rather than fine art. In his towers, Storrs sought "an expression of today" equivalent to "that strength and will to power, that poise and simplicity" that he perceived in modern construction. These sculptures experiment with the relationship between volume and space, the balance of vertical and horizontal masses, and the play of light on polished surfaces. Though often minimalist in visual statement, these towers evoke a strong sense of scale and strength, suggesting grand civic designs or public artwork rather than just sculpture on pedestals. There is a elegance of line in many of Storrs' works that suggests a nod to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, of whom Storrs was an avid admirer. In each of his sculptures there is also a noted verticality that could point to the writings of Freud.


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