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Jeremy Anderson

American
(1921–1982)

Untitled
1959

Redwood
20 x 12 x 32 in. (50.8 x 30.48 x 81.28 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation
1995.10

Jeremy Anderson was a pioneering Bay Area sculptor who brought his own approach to an established stylistic tradition while paving the way for an innovative new direction. Throughout the 1950s Anderson produced carved redwood sculptures in the then-popular mode of biomorphic abstraction. Introduced by surrealist painters like André Masson and Joan Miró, and adapted to sculpture by Julio González, Isamu Noguchi, David Hare, and others, biomorphic abstraction incorporates forms that suggest animal, vegetable, or mineral life, but without literal references. The interpretation of such works is often intended to be open-ended, as the ambiguities inherent in the imagery provide viewers with multiple options for tapping their own imaginations.

Anderson’s biomorphic sculptures are typically characterized by the artist’s playful humor. In this untitled example, the composition might suggest a contorted figure trapped in a torture device. Anderson was known to have been enamored of a collection of medieval weaponry that he often visited at the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco, and he frequently carved shapes resembling spiked clubs, maces, and battle-axes. This particular sculpture is one of the last three-dimensional works that Anderson left unpainted. By the 1960s he was carving humorous words into his wood surfaces and applying enamel paints to create polychromatic sculptures. Along with a younger generation of artists who fell under his influence, he became identified with the funk movement, known for its deliberate irreverence toward conventional standards of taste.

David S. Rubin


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