Press Release

Kasmin to Open Rooftop Sculpture Garden with Three New Large-Scale Works by Joel Shapiro

New York, NY
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Kasmin is pleased to present three new large-scale bronze sculptures by Joel Shapiro, the first in an ongoing program of exhibitions in the gallery’s outdoor rooftop sculpture garden situated on top of its new flagship gallery space at 509 West 27th Street, New York. The sculpture garden, which can be viewed by the High Line’s 6 million visitors per year, will open on October 10, 2018 with the Shapiro exhibition. 

Specializing in large-scale sculpture and engaging public art projects around the world, Kasmin is spearheading a new model for publicly sited commercial sculpture with its new rooftop garden, designed to exhibit monumental sculptures. As one of the only purpose-built commercial galleries in Chelsea, Kasmin’s new space with its unique sculpture roof signals a new era of curatorial ambition for the gallery.

In the early 1970s, when Shapiro began showing his work in New York, he became known for introducing common forms of often diminutive size—a chair, a house, a bird, or bridge—that challenged the dominance of Minimalism, altered one’s sense of scale, and attempted to propose a more personal, psychologically-fraught mode of art that could more directly engage with the human condition.  Since then he has developed a unique language of dynamic sculpture, often using simplified geometric forms to create works that move fluidly between figuration and pure abstraction. 

Although nearly monumental in scale, each of the three works featured in Kasmin’s inaugural rooftop exhibition began as smaller studies in the artist’s studio. Often beginning by connecting raw wood elements using industrial pin guns and hot glue, Shapiro then makes subsequent studies to refine connections and configurations. Larger rectilinear wood patterns are then constructed from timbers in the studio, occasionally cut to size at a saw mill, and then taken to a foundry where they are used to cast the final bronze elements of the sculpture. The finished bronzes often retain traces of wood grain, and in some, the circular kerf-cut markings from the blade of the sawmill. Characterized by their dynamic configurations, these works conjure Brancusi’s refined forms, Giacometti’s figures in motion, and David Smith’s late Cubis. As poet and MacArthur Fellow Peter Cole has written, they objectify “that feeling of particular poise – that sensation that one is, at the same time, stumbling and being uplifted.”∗ 

About Joel Shapiro

Born in New York City in 1941, Joel Shapiro has explored the possibilities of sculptural form over a nearly fifty-year career. He has executed more than thirty commissions and publicly sited sculptures in major North American, European, and Asian cities and has been the subject of more than 160 solo exhibitions and retrospectives internationally, at institutions including the Whitechapel, London, 1980; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, 1982; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1985; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (jointly with the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City), 1995-96; Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2001; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, 2011; Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, 2016; Kunstmuseum Winterthur, 2017; and Yale University Art Gallery, 2018. The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art mounts a 40-year survey exhibition of Shapiro’s bronze sculpture in September 2018.  

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Joel Shapiro, Untitled, 2006-2017, bronze, 168 x 136 1/2 x 49 1/2 inches, Edition 0/1. © Joel Shapiro / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Courtesy of Paul Kasmin Gallery. Photo by Christopher Stach.

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