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Tony DeLap



Brass and wood
54 x 54 x 8 in. (137.16 x 137.16 x 20.32 cm)
Gift of the Marie Eccles Caine Foundation

Historians often include Tony DeLap in discussions about minimalism, op art, geometric abstraction, and the California light and space movement. Like many of the artists of his generation affiliated with these styles, DeLap has always been keenly aware of early twentieth-century abstract pioneers, most conspicuously in his case the constructivists and suprematists. But he has never neatly t into any of these categories. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was not intent on creating pure objects, but has continually scanned culture looking for phenomena that piqued his interest and incorporated these references into his work.

Two of his persistent sources have been stage magic—particularly, sleight of hand—and architecture. Dai (“The Professor”) Vernon, the legendary magician’s magician, and Frank Lloyd Wright are two of his heroes. “The Sorcerer” is one of many DeLap titles that reference magic, and its concentric stepped form echoes Wright’s Guggenheim Museum design.

Like so many of his works, The Sorcerer, one of DeLap’s first freestanding sculptures, is about what is seen and what is not seen, and how seeing the work from different perspectives offers altered perceptions. The slit hints at what is on the other side, and the work itself was constructed so that it could be exhibited in a variety of positions.

The Sorcerer is one of the first artworks DeLap created in Orange County, California, when he moved there from San Francisco in 1965. As the second art faculty member hired, he worked with John Coplans to form the subsequently celebrated department at the University of California, Irvine. Artist John McCracken, who was then DeLap’s studio assistant, followed him from Northern California and substantially aided in the fabrication of The Sorcerer.

Mike McGee

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