Richard Stankiewicz (1922-1983): Sculpture
FROM JANUARY 23RD THROUGH MARCH 10TH, 2007, ZABRISKIE GALLERY EXHIBITS FOUR SCULPTURES BY RICHARD STANKIEWICZ. Stankiewicz assembled found steel objects into richly engaging forms, finding human referents amidst industrial decay.
Stankiewicz welded assemblages of found metal objects, celebrating the spare-parts of industry, while breathing new life into their forms. Working in this medium in the 50s and 60s, Stankiewicz is the rusting drawbridge between Dada and David Smith.
Stankiewicz dealt in the tension between the found object’s meaning and its function as an element of form. Unlike Duchamp’s readymades, Stankiewicz’s junk-lust does not end at the re-appropriation of the found object. Though there is a consonance with Picabia and Man Ray, the found-objects in Stankiewicz represent a sympathy for the rusting and discarded. Stankiewicz’s attraction to the junkyard is obvious; it is a goldmine of absurdity, of decontextualized industry, of folk-art, and of beautiful objects qua objects.
Despite Stankiewicz’s appreciation for the comic element of welded scrap, one cannot deny the nightmarish quality of these decaying figures, specters of a post-apocalyptic world. “Rust should remind us where we come from,” he once said, perhaps recalling both his upbringing in Detroit as well as the Christian lamentation of Man’s finitude. The anguished stare of Seated Female features this mankind-as-detritus metaphor, while Railroad Urchin makes reference to the rusting rails, the social leprosy of the hobo and post-industrial landscapes associated with railroads. The human allusion adds a richness to the engaging semi-abstractions presented here.
Born in Philadelphia in 1922, Richard Stankiewicz grew up in Detroit. Stankiewicz studied under Hans Hofmann in New York in the late forties and spent the early fifties studying in Paris under Leger and Zadkine. Returning to New York, he helped organize the Hansa Gallery, where he exhibited until 1959. In 1962 he moved to Huntington, Massachussetts, where he continued to make sculpture until his death in 1983. Sculptures by Richard Stankiewicz are included in major museum and private collections throughout the world. Zabriskie Gallery has represented the work of Richard Stankiewicz since 1972, and is the exclusive representative of the artist’s estate.