DRISCOLL BABCOCK GALLERIES presents Seymour Lipton: Structural Metaphors, 1951-1964, an exhibition featuring a carefully selected group of Abstract Expressionist sculptures and drawings from Lipton’s most important period. During the 50s and 60s, Lipton established himself as a central figure of the postwar American avant-garde, and he was the lead American artist at the 29th Venice Biennale, where he gained international recognition as one of the principle Abstract Expressionist sculptors of his time. This period spans the height of both Lipton’s technical and spiritual expressions, wherein his abstract forms and concrete ideology seamlessly align. This allowed Lipton to fulfill his artistic credo—to treat sculpture as metaphor, making physical the emotional contrasts and drama of the human experience. Lipton emphasized these tensions with his integral use of light and shadow, which enhance the formal complexities of the structures and the “moods of life” his titles suggest.
Like Jackson Pollock and his Abstract Expressionist contemporaries, Lipton was influenced by, and constantly exploring, the inner workings of the unconscious mind. He was particularly interested in the connection between man and nature, and the accumulated wisdom of the human species. Lipton saw these two forces—the regenerative natural world and the ever-evolving age of the machine—in direct opposition. To explore these tensions, Lipton developed a signature style of welding which involved brazing rustproof Monel metal with nickel silver or bronze to produce a highly textured, anxious surface. GERMINAL #2, 1953, from Lipton’s Bloom series, makes use of this technical innovation to represent the natural world, specifically the season of a blooming flower to represent the life cycle of man, and Lipton’s faith in a life emergent; as the piston-floral drives upward through the dark, surrounding geometries, life moves—and ultimately succeeds—against the unknown.
In DIADEM, 1960, light flickers in and out of the deep, rounded recesses from which other pieces of metal project outward. Light bounces off the bronze, forcing shadows both within and around the interior-exterior components of the form. These shadows, complex and abstract, are constructions much like the structures themselves. They serve to extend the spatial occupancy of the works and add to their ambience of primitive majesty and silent abstraction. Exact in their formal positioning, every component is intentional, as it was for Alexander Calder and David Smith. But at once material and ethereal, the work of Seymour Lipton claims a poetic language entirely its own.
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