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Against the Grain: Wood in Contemporary Art, Craft, and Designby Lowery Sims
Synopses & Reviews
The book is organized around a sequence of themes:
"Logging On" features works that present logs, branches and planks of wood as the primary visual component of the work. This can be seen in works including the cabinets by Piet Hein Eek and Mark Moskovitz that mimic piles of harvested tree trunks and cords of wood.
The work in "A Grain of Truth" presents wood grain textures and patterns in various media, for example, digitally generated print designs in the wall papers by Piet Hein Eek and Phoebe Washburn and the curtains of Jennifer Bolande.
In "Mixing and Matching," creators assemble disparate "found" elements to create inventive sculpture and furniture, such as Thomas Loeser's "Ladderback" chairs where stationary seating reverses into rocking ones.
"From the Lathe" includes a selection of turned work by artists whose creations challenge the expectations of finesse and fantasy in this segment of the woodworking world.
"A Flair for Materials" celebrates virtuoso craftsmanship in wood from Wendell Castle's "extreme" rockers to the elaborate and elegantly carved furniture of Joseph Walsh. Leonardo Drew's intricate mix media found wood pieces will be shown with Ursula von Rydingsvard's organic forms assembled out of segment of cedar planks.
"Apparitions" includes tromp l'eoil marquetry work by painter Alison Elizabeth Taylor and wood craftsman Silas Kopf and the landscape environments of Gary Carsley digitized as various wood textures. A more conceptual role for wood is found in Maria Elena Gonzalez's scanning of patterns on birch bark to create soundings for a player piano.
"Whimsies and Caprices" includes Hiroki Takada's chair inspired by the form of Japanese wooden whisks, Juan Munoz's cutting board with a carved hand pieced by a knife, and Maarten Baas's human head knife holder.
Focusing on some of the most interesting conceptual technical trends in wood working today, Against the Grain includes approximately 65 vessels, sculptures, furniture, and installations, created since 2000, which provocatively defy categories and celebrate the visual dynamics of wood. The book demonstrates how contemporary creators have engaged the medium of wood in strategies that might be described as “postmodern,” employing mimicry, assemblage, virtuosity, and whimsy (with a serious purpose). Environmental issues also are prominently addressed. Artists represented include Derek Bencomo, Gary Carsley, Hunt Clark, Piet Hein Eek, David Ellsworth, Sebastian Errazuriz, Bud Latven, Mark Lindquist, Thomas Loeser, Sarah Oppenheimer, William Pope.L, Martin Puryear, Marc Andre Robinson, Laurel Roth, Betye Saar, Courtney Smith, Elisa Strozyk, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, and Ursula von Rydingsvard.
About the Author
LOWERY STOKES SIMS is the Charles Bronfman International Curator at the Museum of Arts and Design, New York. Former President of The Studio Museum in Harlem and a specialist in modern and contemporary art, she is known for her expertise in the work of African, Latino, Native, and Asian American artists.
SUZANNE RAMLJAK, a writer, art historian, and curator, is currently editor of Metalsmith magazine. She was formerly curator of exhibitions at the American Federation of Arts. Ramljak is the author of Crafting a Legacy: Contemporary American Crafts in the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Elie Nadelman: Classical Folk.
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