Van Doren Waxter is pleased to present Chamberlain/Francis, a two-person exhibition featuring sculpture by John Chamberlain and works on paper by Sam Francis. The exhibition will be on view from July 11th to September 27th, 2013.
This selection of John Chamberlain’s sculptures presents a wide range of his work over the span of his career. The early works from the 1966-1975 are modest pieces constructed from urethane foam and cord, galvanized steel, paper bags, mineral-coated synthetic polymer resin and aluminum foil. These works showcase a more restrained side of Chamberlain’s work with the manipulation of household or small-scale industrial materials. His most notable of these early works are the foam sculptures that present a vulnerable counterpart to Chamberlain’s iconic metal works with an inherent softness and sexuality. This exhibition mounts these early sculptures alongside a few later pieces made of cut metal twisted, welded and painted into colorful, assertive objects.
Sam Francis’ Blue Balls series, created between 1960-1963, depicting clusters of vivid blue cell-like forms floating against white backgrounds, is at the center of this exhibition. Color as light, air and space, is an essential concept in Francis’ work and one clearly visible in this series. Francis’ signature rich blue manifests itself in forms similar to cosmic phenomena, where energetic fields of color burst upon neutral grounds. Known for his signature form of Abstract Expressionism that drew upon the New York School and Bay Area painting, yet defied categorization, this period of Francis’ career was especially experimental and innovative.
This collection of work focuses on the organic and biomorphic forms that emerge in both Francis’ two-dimensional paintings and Chamberlain’s sculptures. Of and relating to the body, Chamberlain’s supple foam sculptures and small early work play with notions of flesh, sensuality and the human ability to manipulate material, while his late work brings forth corporeal awareness through larger forms and rough, industrial media. Francis’ Blue Balls were painted during the time he was suffering from renal tuberculosis, combatting intense pain and highly sensitive to the internal dysfunction of his body. Resembling cell-structures and molecular activity the Blue Balls series heighten the consciousness of the internal and cerebral functions of the body. Chamberlain and Francis both highlight the process of physically making these works and their independent relation to the body whether internally or externally, rendered with each artist’s courageous use of color.