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large bronze gorilla

Daisy Youngblood

June 2019

Van Doren Waxter is pleased to announce new representation of American sculptor Daisy Youngblood, who since the 1970s has received critical attention for her haunting and vulnerable animal and human bodies made of low-fire clay or in cast bronze suggesting ancient cultures and eras. A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellow for “creating forms that evoke the primitive, the timeless, and the universal,” Youngblood will be on view in the gallery’s presentation at the upcoming edition of Art Basel Miami Beach and a one person exhibition will take place in the future at the gallery’s 1907 townhouse.

The artist (b. 1945) is noted for a highly distinctive, affecting, and mystical body of sculpture made slowly by the hand. Youngblood began working in clay, an ancient and sensuous medium, in early childhood in North Carolina. Left alone outside at four years old, and, “finding wet red clay in a ditch,” she made a bear. This was her first animal deity and was experienced “as The Great Mother, a refuge, not something scary.” Years later, in New York during the 1970s, she would craft a sculpture from wood that she had dragged into her studio that was “curved like my backbone,” and that, for the artist, “turned into an arm holding a snake that made the sign of Saturn.”

Her striking, sensitive productions, which David Frankel, writing in Artforum asserts are “modeled with great subtlety” and “recall prehistoric cave art in their mysterious fusion of simplicity and sophistication,” draw their language from the artist’s affinity for indigenous cultures, living creatures, such as orangutans, goats, and cheetahs, and what she has said, are “visual appearances.” Animals, especially primates, regularly appear, and which require, as all of her forms do “working on them long enough to have a presence so that it feels like somebody is there.”

Youngblood’s hand modeled, spiritual forms are distinguished by the placement of found stones and wood from the dense, verdant environs of the artist’s home in the mountainous wilderness of Costa Rica. These often serve as heads, torsos, limbs, eyes, and eye sockets, which allow her to place “something heavy and solid in contrast to the lightness” of her delicate, breakable figures. Chandrika (2014), for instance, measuring 9 x 63 x 19 inches, is a reclining figure that evinces the artist’s interest in ancestors and energy—the clay, stone, and wood portrait features ancient oak found in a river near Youngblood’s home, “which is full and fast and with big boulders and clear water that comes tumbling down.”



About the artist
Daisy Youngblood was born in Asheville, North Carolina in 1945 and today lives and works in Costa Rica. She studied at The Richmond Professional Institute, Virginia. She began exhibiting in New York City in the late 1970s and has shown in the U.S. and internationally. Her work has been on view in solo exhibitions at Willard Gallery, Barbara Gladstone Gallery, and McKee Gallery (1993-2015), among others. Youngblood has been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as Figuratively Speaking (1981) at P.S. 1 in Long Island City, NY; Modern Masks (1984) at The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY; and A Labor of Love (1996) at The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, NY. Youngblood is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Fellowship (2003). Her work is held in many permanent collections such as The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA. Her work has been reviewed and featured in publications such as Artforum, ARTnews, Art in America, and The New York Times.