john chamberlain | chinati foundation

My husband's discretely snapped photos from Chinati Foundation, various works (1972-1983) by John Chamberlain. More images here.

All are painted chromium and plated steel. Their parts resemble (in my mind anyway) junkyard treasures or the aftermath of an automobile crash but with the parts being composed in an orderly fashion, the pieces flung together by an unseen force into beautiful, chaotic things. Chamberlain's sculptures counter the calming, meditative works of Donald Judd at Chinati. My favorite, the lone white sculpture, above. In addition to the metal pieces, there was one massive foam bed-like installation that visitors are allowed to jump and play on if they wish, installed by Donald Judd and Chamberlain.
The former Marfa Wool and Mohair Building houses Chamberlain's twenty-two works.

The definition of sculpture for me is stance and attitude. All sculpture takes a stance. If it dances on one foot, or, even if it dances while sitting down, it has a light-on-its-feet stance. What I do doesn't look like heavy car parts laid up against a wall. 
An artist makes a spiritual evaluation of the essence within a thing and then he gets it out; that is the outer appearance of the inner essence and, it is the point. Sophisticated materials and complex systems are not necessarily good media for art because art is a simple thing and, the more simple the medium, the less you have to get over to get to the fact of the piece.  
Being an artist is an initiative occupation. There is no demand on me to have anyone else agree that it is good work, or, whether they like it or not. I try to make the object the liaison to everyone who comes and looks at it. I must unleash something that they've probably locked up. Then, occasionally, I have to explain it to them and, all of a sudden, they have the right to an opinion - to counteract - and to say, "That doesn't work."


Michele Fraichard said...

Your words capture the sculptures beautifully "pieces flung together by an unseen force into beautiful, chaotic things". I also like what Chamberlain says about simplicity, though I am a complex creature and have a hard time embracing it ;) xo

Stephanie Hoff Clayton said...

Thank you.
Perhaps we are all complex creatures but at the same time, we crave simplicity. I tend to think that, anyway.