|A frequent course of development in the art of many 20th century artists has been a progression from representationalism to abstraction. This was the case with my work, but in 1987 I began to move away from pure abstraction back to a form of representation. Having studied with several of the leading figures of American abstract art (Hofmann, Motherwell, Guston) in the late '40s and early '50s, I did this with a certain trepidation, for any "returning" to representation could be seen as a "betrayal of modernism". (Such ideological language was common to the '50s). Yet, increasingly, I felt that the aims of my earlier abstract sculpture had been realized, and merely working with variations on this formal vocabulary did not interest me.
The transitional work in a new direction was Main Street, a sculpture which I "saw" with great clarity while walking to the local Post Office. This led to a series of sculptures based on the industrial landscape of Northeastern Pennsylvania. Since coming to this region in 1969 I had been struck by the stark, gritty quality of the area, but it was only after 1987 that it occurred to me this landscape might provide the raw material for art.
Another theme in this landscape mode was that of Manhattan. No doubt this stemmed from my love/hate relationship with the nearby but oh-so-distant metropolis where I formerly lived and frequently visit. The spectacular view of the entire Manhattan skyline as glimpsed from the Hackensack Meadows was the inspiration for Long, Shrill City, the first work of this series. The initial drawing was done on a computer (CADD-CAM) and the various building contours were cut out of aluminum plates by means of a plasma burner. In turn, the left-over plates were recycled into the three Burnouts.
Parallel with the landscape pieces were sculptures concerned with still life and single objects. An issue in 20th century sculpture has been the "problem of the base", and in such pieces as Bread and Milk, Attributes of Reading & Insomniac's Night Table I resolved the problem by making a part of the sculpture (a table or a chair) also function as a base. Thus these pieces can be situated on the floor in the viewer's space, almost like ordinary furniture, but with a difference. Although there is in these works a high degree of realism and "thingness", a necessary aesthetic distance is provided by the different metals from which the objects were fabricated. Yet this very realism led me to consider using actual objects, or found-objects. But how to use found-objects and preserve the aesthetic distance which I feel is essential, as well as to avoid paraphrasing the ready-mades of Marcel Duchamp? For me the solutions were the pieces, many titled Dysfunctional, in which the utilitarian function of a commonplace object is subverted and rendered "useless", i.e. rendered into art.
In any direction an artist follows certain things are gained, others lost. The play of formal relationship, a working with geometric modules, and the more impersonal character of my earlier abstract work has been followed by sculptures and drawings in which memory, nostalgia, the absurd, the bizarre, the humorous and the self-referential have been given scope. Just as in 1987 I could not have anticipated the path my work would take, so now in 1993 I cannot predict future developments.