Clearing for a Standing Man No. 2, Christopher Wilmarth

Christopher Wilmarth (American, 1943 - 1987) 

Clearing for a Standing Man No. 2, 1973/1986 

Etched glass and steel 

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Barney A. Ebsworth, 1986 (5501.1) 

Influenced by the confluence of abstraction and minimalism in American contemporary art, Christopher Wilmarth became known for his evocative sculptures of steel and etched glass. In 1973 he began Nine Clearings for a Standing Man. In each work of this ambitious series he placed a large sheet of steel, bent subtly along one or two vertical or horizontal axes, behind a piece of lightly-etched glass of similar dimensions. Using screws and steel wire cables, Wilmarth attached the two layers to the wall, against which they were closely aligned (the weight of the work, however, rests on the floor). 

As technologically modern as his materials are, Wilmarth suggested that the architectural quality of his work is secondary to the experience of light they create. Fascinated by the ability of etched glass to catch and hold light through its color and frosted translucency, Wilmarth regulated the luminosity of the pieces in the series by varying the space between the glass and steel. In this sculpture, the steel bends slightly along a horizontal axis toward the wall, admitting light behind the upper portion of the glass; thus Wilmarth divided it visually into two sections, the top lighter, the bottom darker. As the viewer moves or the illumination changes, however, the coloristic character alters. The sculpture suggests the poetry of light or, as Wilmarth once called it, the quality of indirect light found under trees.