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Richard Stankiewicz (b. 1922)
Property from the Estate of David Pincus
Richard Stankiewicz (b. 1922)

Playful Bathers

Details
Richard Stankiewicz (b. 1922)
Playful Bathers
iron and steel
80 x 75½ x 31 in. (203.2 x 191.7 x 78.7 cm.)
Executed in 1960-1961.
Provenance
Zabriskie Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1983
Exhibited
State University of New York at Albany, University Art Gallery; Springfield, Museum of Fine Arts; Ithaca, The Herbert Johnson Museum, Cornell University and Williamstown, The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, The Sculpture of Richard Stankiewicz, A Selection of Works from the Years 1953-1979, 1979-1980, no. 18 (illustrated).

Lot Essay

The poet John Ashbery deemed Richard Stankiewicz the "Audubon of junkyards" ("Richard Stankiewicz (1922-1983): Sculpture", The Art Newspaper, 1 September 2003). Like the famed ornithologist, Stankiewicz developed an expertise in all species of detritus and general "junk", utilizing their forms to create semi-abstract sculptures that helped pave the way for the burgeoning assemblage style. Though the artist was profoundly influenced by the work of his legendary teachers Fernand Leger, Ossip Zadkine and Hans Hofmann, he developed a unique style that differentiated him even from his contemporaries. While artists such as John Chamberlain focused on purely abstract forms, Stankiewicz chose to create overtly anthropomorphic sculptures. He often titled his works to foreground their figurative nature, such as Playful Bathers.

Playful Bathers is a particularly exceptional example, in that it incorporates a number of figures interacting with one another. Stakiewicz's keen talent for conjuring vitality from seemingly useless materials is on full display in the dynamic relations between the figures. The present lot is representative of the height of the artist's career, which, according to noted critic Roberta Smith, "expanded upon Cubism, rebuked the prevailing lugubriousness of postwar sculpture and predicted many aspects of Pop and Minimalism" ("Miracle in the Scrap Heap: The Sculpture of Richard Stankiewicz", The New York Times, 29 August 2003). This prophetic work reflects the singular vision of an artist ensconced in one of the most generative and dynamic periods of unprecedented experimentation in art history.

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