Chimu, John McCracken

John McCracken (American, 1934 - 2011) 

Chimu, 1965 

Wood, fiberglass, lacquer 

Gift-Purchase, from the Frederick and Marcia Weisman Foundation, 1972 (4034.1) 

Initially a painter, John McCracken moved towards sculpture early in his career, though he was more interested in color than either sculpture or painting. McCracken became known for simple, geometric, highly polished, usually monochromatic forms, representing abstract visual ideas and objectifying color as its own structural element.

Chimu is an early work, from a series of sculptures in which the outside form incorporates an interior form, with each element being of different, contrasting colors or, as in Chimu, of subtly different tones. While McCracken generally made rectilinear forms, Chimu is unusual in that the internal form has a convex curve at its top which is echoed by a concave curve in the external form. This visual play of shape and negative space (shadow) imbues the sculpture with a gracefulness that counters its rigid edges and hard surfaces.