Sculptor Jim Rennert spent the first 10 years of his career working in business. In 1990, he left behind the world of suits and phrases like “leverage customer-centric opportunities” and “execute against our objectives” and entered the world of art making. Using a casting method that dates back to the Bronze Age, he makes sculptures that reference his experiences in business, while exploring universal themes—including notions of success and failure, self-expression, and striving. In his words: “While not everyone wears a suit, I feel the themes transcend to the everyman.”
In his sculptures, the figure of an “everyman” recurs, a cipher for what Rennert sees as the physical and psychological challenges of the heightened competitiveness of the corporate world. “For the last several years my work has focused on my past experiences in the competitive world of business,” he explains. “Mixing the traditional medium of bronze and contemporary forms of flat laser cut steel, I have illustrated themes and concepts of everyday work life.” One such concept, of being a cog in the corporate machine, is illustrated in Momentum (2012). In this work, the tiny figure of a man in a suit balances precariously on the edge of a gear, which is locked into a second larger gear. There are only two possible outcomes for this man, it seems: as the gears turn, he will be either thrown off of or crushed between them.
But not all of the artist’s works are dark. At the corner of Manhattan’s Union Square—a hub for all types of workers and once the site of Andy Warhol’s famed studio, known as the Factory—stands his over-life-sized sculpture, THINK BIG (2014). Here, a suited male protagonist appears standing still, arms at his sides, his face tilted up towards the sky. For Rennert, the figure embodies the act of thinking positively, creatively, and adventurously. It stands for the big thinking that built New York City, as well as the U.S. as a whole. “I hope the piece is an inspiration to the Union Square neighborhood and the entire city,” he says.
May 4–8, 2018, Park Avenue Armory