New exhibit celebrates science and art - De Waine Valentine
A new exhibit of modern sculpture opens Saturday at the Georgia Museum of Art featuring an artist who created regionally-themed pieces based on the Southern California environment and made scientific progress in the process.
Poured during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the work of De Wain Valentine is indicative of a West Coast art culture that embraced technological and industrial advancement; sought to create a connection between science, art and technique; and adapted industrial materials for artistic purposes.
To construct large-scale sculptures that mimic the atmosphere and hydrosphere of the artist’s adopted California home, Valentine worked with a plastics manufacturer to develop a polyester resin that cured slower than existing plastics, allowing him to pour the massive forms for which he became famous.
Moving the eight sculptures on display as part of the show “De Wain Valentine: Human Scale,” which range in size from 900 to 1,700 pounds and between 6 to 8 feet, required a team of installers and a gantry crane.
Valentine’s giant translucent sculptures, which are named by their color and shape, often took the forms of rectangular columns or circles. The GMOA exhibition features mainly Valentine’s circles, the largest one, “Double Concave Circle, Deep Red,” acts like a lens altering everything viewed through it. Others, though, are meant to be considered simply as objects.
While the sculptures definitely acknowledge the aerospace industry booming in California at the time, there is a nod to the natural world as well. In some pieces on display with “Human Scale,” the movement of a river or tide is suggested.
“I am now having a love affair with the sea and the sky,” Valentine is quoted as saying of his life in California.
Some sculptures, according to Lynn Boland, Pierre Daura Curator of European Art at the museum, reflect the smog Valentine encountered in Los Angeles once he moved there from his native Colorado.
“He was trying to recreate that sense of L.A.,” Boland said.
The surfaces of Valentine’s more natural work and his translucent objects both attempt to disappear into the air around it, placing Valentine’s work in the same realm as the Light and Space Movement. Many of Valentine’s sculptures begin with a fatter, deeply pigmented base that slims down into an almost glass-like point, which then appears to dissolve into space. With all of Valentine’s love of air and water, how those elements interacted with light was the artist’s true interest.
Paired with the New York Collection for Stockholm, an exhibition of prints by important contemporary and modern artists, which is also currently on display at GMOA, the Valentine collection is a tangible example of the artistic context introduced by the New York exhibit.
“The 1960s conceptually set up what De Wain is doing here,” Boland said. “This exhibition takes away the necessity to imagine.”
“De Wain Valentine: Human Scale” opens Saturday and runs until Jan. 27.
To prevent possible damage to the sculptures, the number of visitors allowed to view the exhibit at one time will be limited.
For more information on museum hours and activities related to the exhibition, visit www.georgiamuseum.org.