Magazine article Sculpture

Betty Cuningham Gallery

Magazine article Sculpture

Betty Cuningham Gallery

Article excerpt

New York

Christopher Wilmarth

Betty Cuningham Gallery

Christopher Wilmarth died quite young-in 1987, at the age of 44. At the time, he was not a household name, but he was highly respected by critics, curators, and other art professionals. This small exhibition, consisting of four sculptures (three of them maquettes for larger works) and 11 drawings, called attention to his poetic gifts. Realized in black steel and etched glass, the three maquettes model a lyrical hybrid of sculpture and architecture, acting as windows and walls at the same time. Wilmarth's work asks a lot; it is as if he wanted to transform his own and the viewer's vision into something tragically dark, suggestive of a truth lurking just beyond consciousness.

This somber approach creates a background of deep emotion. Gift of the Bridge (Maquette) (1975)-the large version is at the Wadsworth Atheneum - looks, from one angle, very much like architecture; the opaque glass attaches itself to the top of black steel planes, two of which angle upward as if they were the roof of a house. Another thin, vertical panel rises to support the glass. The sculpture's sad architecture seems to exist for those who have lost hope. Despite its ethereal beauty, it offers little solace - if it is not a charnel house, it suggests a premonition of doom. In Maquette for "Days on Blue" (c. 1974)-the large work is at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art-a central glass panel, framed on both sides by steel planes, conveys a powerful simplicity reflecting both high Modernist culture and intense melancholy. …

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