Forum Gallery will present On with the Show, an exhibition of circus-themed works by the Austrian-born American sculptor, Chaim Gross (1904-1991). For Gross, a figurative sculptor who carved in wood, modeled in clay, and cast in bronze, the physicality of circus performers and their gravity-defying feats presented rich contrasts and juxtapositions for his art.
As Susan Greenberg Fisher, Executive Director of the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation, states in her essay for the exhibition catalogue, “The experience of the circus was a temporary journey to the brink of danger and even death through the performers’ feats of strength and endurance…circus performers offered Gross a way to rethink the sculptural depiction of the body, particularly the female body. Acrobats, strongwomen, and bareback riders were athletic, colorful, graceful, and strong, and they took their bodies to extremes.” As Chaim Gross rose from being a struggling immigrant to a major American artist, he sought more and more options for depicting the body and breaking away from Academic tradition, and he found the circus as inspiration.
The exhibition shows Gross’ versatility of scale and medium; the 23 sculptures on view in walnut, mahogany, sabicu, ebony, lignum vitae, walnut and bronze range in size from 10 inches to 78 inches, and were created between 1928 and 1980, with representative works from every decade between.
Throughout his career, Chaim Gross was uniquely able to choose the “blank”, uncut block of exotic wood that would best reveal the composition he had in mind. His Aerialist, 1935, sabicu wood, 16 ½ x 58 ¼ x 7 ½ inches, is a striking example. Carved from a single block of West Indian hardwood, the curvaceous performer floats through space in perfect balance. The intricacy of the reductive process seems effortless.
Sculpture by Chaim Gross may be seen in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Joseph H. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art; and over seventy more fine art institutions.
Chaim Gross: On with the Show opens with a reception on January 7 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Susan Greenberg Fisher, PhD, will lead a walk-through of the exhibition on Wednesday, January 27 at 6:00 p.m. An illustrated catalogue with essay by Dr. Fisher will accompany the exhibition. The exhibition is made possible through the cooperation of the Renee and Chaim Gross Foundation and is curated by Dr. Fisher.