Nasher Sculpture Center
Sculptor Joel Shapiro embraces an aesthetic that lies between figuration and abstraction through his wooden sculptures of human forms. Born in New York in 1941, Shapiro originally intended to be a physician and studied science as an undergraduate at New York University. After serving in the Peace Corps in India for two years, he decided to pursue a career as an artist. He references traces of human activity in his first sculptures by including small-scale works of furniture and homes. His more recent work depicts abstracted, large-scale geometric shapes suggestive of human forms in bronze, wood, and other materials. His work has often been associated with post-minimalist art. He has received several awards, including the Skowhegan Medal for Sculpture, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He receives frequent commissions to create public sculptures, including works at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, among many others. Shapiro currently lives and works in New York and his work can be viewed at museum collections around the world, including the British Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
Signature: Signed and numbered
Joel Shapiro has built his sculptures out of wood, wire, and cast bronze, relying on space and the position and proximity of the viewer to play with perception. These seemingly simple works are constructed out of multicolored painted blocks arranged into abstract shapes or, in the case of his 2011 exhibition at the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, wooden components, from large planes to narrow planks, separately suspended by wires attached to walls, floor, and ceiling. The scale of Shapiro’s installations is always significant, making the architectural spaces in which they are exhibited an important part of their impact.
American, b. 1941, New York, New York, based in New York, New York