Issue 58, Summer 1974
Chris Wilmarth is a young sculptor living and working south of Houston Street in Manhattan. His medium is the product of the post-industrial age. To make his pieces, he employs heavy machinery and materials that are not traditionally those of sculpture. He has given his students at Cooper Union such unconventional sculptural projects as watching the construction crews at work on Wall Street and making art from the wreckage and left-overs of the Lower East Side.
His work transmutes the properties of glass, steel and wire from their customary mundane states into vehicles of tranquility and order. Each final sculpture and wall piece is the result of a progression of ideas worked out intuitively in line drawings and watercolor studies whose appearances are deceptively plain or simple. A curved line becomes a shape; a translucent wash of paint becomes shorthand for light passing through a semi-transparent surface. This concern for the possibilities of light (mystical as well as physical) results in sculptures which possess a kinship to Rothko’s dark, luminous pictures and to the emotional qualities of light in Hopper’s paintings, but whose existence remains physical, three dimensional and haptic. When the etched glass is attached to the inflected steel plate with wire that is strong enough to support tons of pressure, the steel becomes more shadow than weight, the glass takes on color and nuance from the air which fills the spaces between the two substances. The idea, the vision of the piece, transcends the extreme heaviness of the materials. The sculptures, watercolors and drawings experiment in many formal directions within precisely defined boundaries set by measurements and materials. Wilmarth’s work is apolitical and an inheritor of the tradition of the American Sublime. It is reflective, resistant to any rapid analysis; evoking preverbal emotions, especially wonder. (AA)
This page depicts the artist’s initial line drawings. The following pages show his watercolor interpretation on the left hand and final sculpture on right. The last page is also a finished sculpture.