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Robert Grosvenor
Robert Grosvenor

Press Release

NEW YORK—From 17 January through 12 February, 2003, the Paula Cooper Gallery will present new work by Robert Grosvenor. The exhibition will consist of a two-part sculpture made of painted steel, aluminum and plywood.

Robet Grosvenor’s art has variously been termed “enigmatic”, “eccentric”, “elliptical”, and “inexplicably compelling”, without a doubt in large part because it so gracefully eludes the received notions of what contemporary sculpture should look like. Interested since the 1960s in the articulation of space, in creating or marking spaces and interspaces through simple, abstract forms, Grosvenor is often associated with the Minimal artists of his generation, and was indeed included in the exhibitions that defined the Minimalist movement, such as “Primary Structures” (Jewish Museum, 1966) and “Minimal Art” (Den Haag Gementemuseum, 1968). His work, however, demonstrates such a degree of independence and idiosyncrasy as to make this label (or any label) hardly appropriate.

A member of the Park Place Gallery, where he had his first one-person show in 1965, Grosvenor first created very large painted sculptures, which often hung from the ceiling and projected through space, interrupting or disturbing spatial references and seemingly defying gravity. In the 1970s, Grosvenor realized a number of outdoors works that extended his investigation of space by responding to their site: they subtly inflected the horizontal expanse and soft contours of the landscape and often appeared to be in dialogue with the horizon.

Moving back indoors, Grosvenor then produced stark creosote-blackened pieces whose battered and worn down surfaces bore the traces of extreme pressure or stress. While remaining close to the Minimalist emphasis on simple forms and industrial materials, Grosvenor was also clearly taking his work in new directions: altering its surfaces, subverting its geometry and charging it with temporal density.

From the mid-1980s onwards, Grosvenor moved to outwardly more referential sculpture. His works of the period were elementary architectural assemblages: floors, side walls, roofs or canopies, precariously joined to suggest rudimentary shelters. Using discarded materials, such as corrugated iron, plexiglas or plastic, but stripping them of their original context or purpose, Grosvenor created strangely allusive “prototypical places” of alien appearance and uncertain function.

This move toward commonplace materials forms the link with his more recent works, in which heterogeneous but conspicuously ordinary elements are put in relation with each other to create a multi-part work. These recent pieces (dating from the mid-1990s) evoke the contemporary American landscape of highways and road signs, back yards and patios, barbecue spits and television antennas, but they simultaneously transcend their historical context to become entirely new, entirely unexpected sculptural places imbued with dramatic tension and psychological resonance.

Born in New York City in 1937, Robert Grosvenor studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Ecole Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in France and the Universitá di Perugia in Italy. He lives and works in Long Island, NY.

For more information, please contact the gallery: (212) 255-1105 or