A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection

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  • July 01, 2010

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Derek A. Bencomo, Hana Valley, First View from the "Peaks and Valleys Series", 1997, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Fleur and Charles Bresler in honor of Kenneth R. Trapp, curator-in-charge of the Renwick Gallery (1995--2003)
Smithsonian American Art Museum

“A Revolution in Wood” celebrates the gift of 66 pieces of turned and carved wood to the Smithsonian American Art Museum by the noted collectors Fleur and Charles Bresler. The collection includes works by some of the best-known wood artists in the United States that highlight the expressive capacity of craft’s most organic material. Works in the exhibition also display the growing sophistication of wood turning, which has gained recognition as an art form since World War II.

Masterpieces by pioneers in the field, including David Ellsworth, William Hunter, Mark and Melvin Lindquist, Edward Moulthrop and Rude Osolnik demonstrate the extraordinary range of expression achievable on the lathe, the medium’s foundational tool. Compelling recent works by Ron Fleming, Michelle Holzapfel, Hugh McKay, Norm Sartorius, Mark Sfirri, and many others reveal the advent of new techniques, including multi-axis turning, the incorporation of secondary materials and a strong focus on carving. Many works in the exhibition will be on public display for the first time. The museum has produced a five-minute film, with VideoArt Productions, which will be shown continuously in the exhibition galleries. It features interviews with Fleur Bresler; artists Ellsworth and Sfirri; and Kenneth R. Trapp, former curator-in-charge at the Renwick Gallery. Nicholas R. Bell, curator at the Renwick Gallery, is organizing the exhibition.

A catalog, published by the museum and distributed by Random House, is written by Bell with a foreword by Elizabeth Broun, the museum’s director, and an interview with Fleur Bresler by Trapp. It will be available for $45 (hardcover) in the museum store, online and at book stores nationwide.

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