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Maker(s):Shapiro, Joel
Culture:American (1941 - )
Date Made:1979
Materials:Gouache and charcoal on moderately textured white paper
Place Made:United States
Measurements:sheet: 17 in x 13 5/8 in; 43.2 cm x 34.6 cm
Accession Number:  SC 2012.1.19
Credit Line:Gift of The Pokross Art Collection, donated in accordance with the wishes of Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934 by her children, Joan Pokross Curhan, class of 1959, William R. Pokross and David R. Pokross Jr. in loving memory of their parents, Muriel Kohn Pokross, class of 1934 and David R. Pokross
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

abstract blue-green shape with charcoal lines

Label Text:
As an emerging artist in the 1970s, Joel Shapiro responded to the cool, self-referential, and rigidly geometric work of the 1960s Minimalists by producing sculptures and drawings which re-invigorated abstraction with psychological and associative qualities. His sculptures and drawings at this time often echoed the form of a house, a recognizable symbol which the artist believed conveyed emotional weight. Shapiro used this simple shape as a vehicle for formal explorations of scale, color, and space.

The late 1970s was a transitional period in Shapiro’s artistic career. His exploration of the house form gave way to an interest in the human figure, which became a defining feature of his work from the 1980s onward. Untitled is part of a series of biomorphic gouache and charcoal drawings produced during this period of shifting interests. Light and sensuously abstract forms characterize many of the works, which differ greatly from the more angular and severely gestural style of earlier drawings. Here, Shapiro explores “color as material,” a phrase he uses to describe his approach to both sculpture and drawing. The solid gray shape, which recalls neither a house nor a figure, is merely a form created through the flat application of color, distinctly juxtaposed by the faint remnants of charcoal lines that Shapiro leaves exposed.

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