J.B. Blunk, ‘Universal Disc’, 1974, Sculpture, Redwood burl, Reform Gallery
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J.B. Blunk

Universal Disc, 1974

Redwood burl
27 × 72 × 72 in
68.6 × 182.9 × 182.9 cm
.
Medium
J.B. Blunk
American, 1926–2002
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Known for his large-scale sculpture, furniture, and installations carved out of cypress and redwood, J. B. Blunk remains a greatly underappreciated figure despite his presence in major public and private collections. Blunk graduated from UCLA in 1949, where he studied ceramics with Laura Andreson. After serving in the Korean War, he traveled to Japan in search of the pottery he had been so enamored with as a student. At a local mingei (craft) shop, he happened to meet the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who curated the first exhibition of Blunk’s works and introduced him to the potters Rosanjin Kitaoji and Toyo Kaneshige, whom he would apprentice with for the next two years. Blunk returned to California in 1954, where he met the surrealist painter Gordon Onslow Ford. While building a roof for Ford’s home, Blunk worked with wood for the first time, and soon began earning a living as a furniture maker. In 1965, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin commissioned Blunk to create a room of furniture for his home. A slew of major public works soon followed. These pieces took on an increasingly abstract style and monumental scale. By the end of the 1970s, Blunk had grown less interested in functional design and more focused on formal sculptural pursuits, creating totemic monoliths and soaring arches that retain the shape and essence of the once-living trees they were carved from. In Blunk’s paintings, the relationship to surface and structure recalls the influence of Japanese stoneware traditions, where glazing is used to celebrate the natural properties of the clay. Blunk used black and white acrylic paint to emphasize the chainsaw-textured surfaces of his scrap wood panels. In addition to wood, Blunk painted on rice paper, sometimes mixing his paint with sawdust to add an earthy texture. Using the knots in the wood as compositional devices, Blunk allowed his materials to speak freely, following their lead.

J.B. Blunk, ‘Universal Disc’, 1974, Sculpture, Redwood burl, Reform Gallery
Save
Save
Share
Share
Medium
J.B. Blunk
American, 1926–2002
Follow

Known for his large-scale sculpture, furniture, and installations carved out of cypress and redwood, J. B. Blunk remains a greatly underappreciated figure despite his presence in major public and private collections. Blunk graduated from UCLA in 1949, where he studied ceramics with Laura Andreson. After serving in the Korean War, he traveled to Japan in search of the pottery he had been so enamored with as a student. At a local mingei (craft) shop, he happened to meet the sculptor Isamu Noguchi, who curated the first exhibition of Blunk’s works and introduced him to the potters Rosanjin Kitaoji and Toyo Kaneshige, whom he would apprentice with for the next two years. Blunk returned to California in 1954, where he met the surrealist painter Gordon Onslow Ford. While building a roof for Ford’s home, Blunk worked with wood for the first time, and soon began earning a living as a furniture maker. In 1965, the landscape architect Lawrence Halprin commissioned Blunk to create a room of furniture for his home. A slew of major public works soon followed. These pieces took on an increasingly abstract style and monumental scale. By the end of the 1970s, Blunk had grown less interested in functional design and more focused on formal sculptural pursuits, creating totemic monoliths and soaring arches that retain the shape and essence of the once-living trees they were carved from. In Blunk’s paintings, the relationship to surface and structure recalls the influence of Japanese stoneware traditions, where glazing is used to celebrate the natural properties of the clay. Blunk used black and white acrylic paint to emphasize the chainsaw-textured surfaces of his scrap wood panels. In addition to wood, Blunk painted on rice paper, sometimes mixing his paint with sawdust to add an earthy texture. Using the knots in the wood as compositional devices, Blunk allowed his materials to speak freely, following their lead.

J.B. Blunk

Universal Disc, 1974

Redwood burl
27 × 72 × 72 in
68.6 × 182.9 × 182.9 cm
.
Other works by J.B. Blunk
Related works
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