Lot Details

While teaching at Ohio’s Kent State University in 1980, Peter Gourfain completed a series of ceramic reliefs and terracotta pots in commemoration of the four students who were killed during the Kent State shootings of 1970. Killed during a Vietnam War protest by the Ohio National Guard, the shooting and subsequent deaths spawned significant national response and raised even more attention and concern over the US involvement in the War. In this example from the terracotta pot series, Gourfain utilizes his wry sense of humor to signify and comment on the government oppression witnessed during this time. Painted and relief representations of evil, body-crushing tyrants, gun-hugging masked men, and symbolic imagery of “biting the hand that feeds you” surround the pot in a visually compelling illustration of Gourfain’s reflection on the tragic events that took place on that same campus only 10 years earlier.

This work was featured in the 1987 solo exhibition, 'Peter Gourfain: Roundabout and Other Works' organized by the Brooklyn Museum in Brooklyn, New York.

Peter Gourfain (b.1934) rose to prominence in the 1960s and 70s during the New York Minimalist movement. Moving away from Minimalism, Gourfain developed his distinctive sculptural style that combined decorative and figural aspects in monumental works of bronze, wood, and terracotta that reflect his skill, artistic influences, as well as his sense of humor and personal experience. Gourfain engages and challenges his audience, providing witty, whimsical, and referential narratives on the human condition, which he has also translated from sculpture into drawings and prints. Born in Chicago in 1934, Gourfain earned his BFA in 1956 from The Art Institute of Chicago. He has received numerous grants, fellowships, and honors for his work, including two National Endowment for the Arts grants, a Guggenheim Fellowship for sculpture, and most recently a printmaking Fellowship from the Foundation for the Arts, New York in 1999. In 1987, the Brooklyn Museum of Art held a major exhibition of his work, focusing on his stylistic transition from Minimalism to Decoration. More recently, Gourfain’s work has been the subject of solo shows at Projects Gallery, Philadelphia, PA (2007); Chazen Museum of Art, Madison, WI (2005); and Elvehjem Museum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI (2002).

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Provenance:
  • Private Collection, USA Patricia Hamilton Gallery, New York, NY
Exhibition:
“Peter Gourfain: Roundabout and Other Works”, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY (1987).
  • Pickup Location: Florida, USA
  • Shipping Dimensions: 40 x 32 x 32 in. (101.6 x 81.28 x 81.28 cm.)
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