is article from ArtNews magazine November, 1996 p. 132
How many sculptors can make their weighty creations look as though
they could fly? John Van Alstine does it over and over again,
using materials-often granite, steel, and bronze- more as colors
in his palette than as heavy masses. Whether forming the foundation
of his pieces or serving as an accent, texture is exploited in full.
Van Alstine discovers ways in which sculpture can use characteristics
usually found only in painting and drawing.
The 14 works in this recent exhibition continued the artist's
exploration of balance and placement, which he began in the mid-1970s.
Although he doesn't use the human figure, his pieces here were so
graceful and sensuous that one felt almost surrounded by descendants
of Degas's dancers.<
In the 110-inch-tall Labyrinth Trophy, Van Alstine placed a large
bronze balla symbol of perfection-on a slab of granite and connected
it to a birdlike form that looks set to fly away. Many of
his smaller works in the "Implement" series had the same
poetic impulse. Tools such as hatchets, hammers, and scoops
are employed as fluid motifs, as though they were an extension of
the artist's very own hands.
Water is another abiding symbol. In Fully Freighted, a small
model of a boat found by the artist in the Adirondacks lies between
two large pieces of granite, as if captured iiiid-voyage.
Blue-green and sturdy, the boat looks as though it had grown out
of the rocks. This kind of imaginative juxtaposition defines
all of Van Alstine's work.
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