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7. John Newman, ivory gourd jester, 2002
7. John Newman, ivory gourd jester, 2002
gourds, painted extruded aluminum, painted wood, and paint on Japanese paper, papier mache, foam, plaster, wood, wood putty, armature wire, acqua resin 15 x 12 x 24
Newman’s table-scale sculptures always involve more than one material—we’re as far as can be from the pure bronze totems and steel monoliths of mainstream modernism—and usually at least a half dozen. Like Baroque sculptors and painters, Newman is constantly looking for ways to torque his forms. Curling in upon themselves or stretching from one part of a sculpture to another, his biomorphic elements twist with a sensual, playful sinuosity. The sculptures are often organized around the presentation of a small item that is proffered to the viewer like a jewel, a ritualistic offering or dainty morsel of food.
Another recurring feature is concatenation: in ivory gourd jester (2002), for instance, an openwork wire armature leads to a gourd that is attached to a piece of extruded aluminum, which then connects to other elements made of painted wood, papier mâché, plaster and wood putty. In a more recent work, crushed and weighted-down turn (2005), a piece of black marble holds down one end of a twisting black and silver ribbonlike shape, at the end of which is a clump of crushed paper.

Long based in New York though more recently working in Berlin, Newman has also traveled in Asia and Africa. There he came across many of the materials and processes that run through his sculpture. These include such things as Japanese papering techniques, Calcutta basket weaving and Bengali brass casting, all of which he employs with his great flair for combining textures, colors and shapes in startling ways.

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5. John Newman, disk trouble, 2001
5. John Newman, disk trouble, 2001
cast glass, terra cotta, plastic, felt, wood jute, wire, rusted steel, polished copper 15 1/2 x 12 x 13 1/4
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