Joel Shapiro

Untitled, 1989-90. Photo Jonty Wilde Image 1 of 4
Open images in Lightbox
Untitled, 1998. Photo Jonty Wilde Image 2 of 4
Open images in Lightbox
Untitled, 1998 2 Image 3 of 4
Open images in Lightbox
Untitled, 1998-99 Image 4 of 4
Open images in Lightbox
17.07.99 - 17.10.99
Pavilion and Bothy Galleries
In 1999, YSP announced the first British survey of work by the influential American artist Joel Shapiro, since his acclaimed exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1980. The extensive and significant exhibition highlighted seminal works, made over a twenty-five year period, from Shaprio’s celebrated miniature-scale sculpture through to his explorations of the abstract figure in the landscape.

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With 15 outdoor works and 14 sculptures displayed in the Pavilion and Bothy Galleries, the exhibition provided a unique opportunity to view the development of this important artist’s career and indicated Shapiro’s role as a significant innovator of figurative sculpture at the close of the 20th century.

Made from wooden units that were often subsequently cast in iron or bronze, Shapiro’s figures ranged from tiny but intense floor-bound sculptures of simple domestic structures, to public commissions of over ten metres high, demonstrating his acute sense of scale. Throughout Shapiro’s formal vocabulary remained fundamentally consistent: his figures and figural fragments were composed of wooden beam-like elements that were assembled together to evoke the human form. They made reference to the Minimalist vocabulary with which Shapiro had been engaged since the late 60s, but were assembled together to represent arms, legs and torsos. As a result, the dynamic works existed in a delicate balance between representation and abstraction, monumentality and playfulness.

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