YLEM blog A listing of events and news of YLEM and its members

December 24, 2007

YLEM Forum: Bruce Beasley, Sculptor – Movement, Flight and Breaking Free

Filed under: Forums — Nicholas @ 12:25 am

Bruce Beasley, sculptor
Thursday, January 10, 8 pm
doors open 7:30 pm, come early and chat!
Open to the public, donation requested.

Meridian Gallery

535 Powell St., 3rd fl.
San Francisco, CA 94108

Bruce Beasley, eminent public sculptor, reviews his 45-year career and
shows the recently-released movie about himself. His exploits are the
stuff of legend, for he invented new tools and processes to realize
his vision. His metal and stone sculptures give the sensation of
movement and flight. In emotional terms, they embody the notion of
breaking free. His earlier works were transparent, blurring the
boundaries of just where their mass began and ended.

Who would have thought a guy involved in racing at Bonneville in 1957
would be destined for the fine arts? A dozen years later he was
casting a 13,000 lb. acrylic sculpture in his Oakland studio, a feat
Dupont said was impossible to do and still achieve transparency. His
transparent sculptures had strange properties: Their surfaces acted
like lenses, creating vivid distortions. They seemed to dissolve into
their surroundings, giving them a weightlessness. Thus began his
life-long mission as a sculptor, to break down the automatic
association that we have between volume and our sensation of weight.

In 1974, he began doing monumental geometric metal sculptures. He
says: “The major source materials for me are…basic forms of
nature…crystalline structures, molecular building blocks and bones.
I’m very interested in the way nature refines things down to very
simple forms, and how it puts things together.”

His next quest, to make metal sculptures that resembled intersecting
cubes, involved some difficult fabrication problems. At his behest, a
CAD computer program was modified for him that not only only let him
compose new forms, but produce cutting diagrams. These heavy
sculptures gesture as if they were moving and taking off.

Beasley doesn’t see a division between art and science. He says,
“Sculptors are poets of shape. But we have to know a lot of what
engineers know. We have to know how to make things, how much they
weigh, how to keep them from falling over. We have to be comfortable
with principles of physics and chemistry. We have to believe strongly
enough in the shapes we make to learn how to make them so they’ll last
a long time.”

His works are spread around the Bay Area, at the Oakland Museum, in
front of Oakland City Hall, at San Francisco International Airport and
Stanford University. They are seen in museums and public collections
internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Djerassi Foundation, and in the
collection of Kleinewefers GmbH, Krefeld, Germany.

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