Long Beach Contract
Gabriel Kohn’s abstract geometric forms earned him a unique place in the history of modern sculpture. At a time when artists were enthusiastically embracing industrial products, he resisted the trend and retained an interest in natural materials and the traditional methods of the “master carpenter/furniture maker” approach. Long Beach Contract accurately represents the balance of Kohn’s oeuvre.
This 1965 Long Beach International Sculpture Symposium piece was Kohn’s first large scale work and was executed at the Fellows and Stewart shipyard in Long Beach, CA, with the assistance of the firm’s skilled shipwrights. According to critic Suzanne Muchnic, this sculpture, like many of Kohn’s works, “…seems to rock or lift off the floor on sweeping curves, despite considerable weight and mass.” Kohn made the following remark about Long Beach Contract: “This piece does not symbolize anything. It has meaning for me but I couldn’t explain that meaning . . . I and the rest of us here are in an experimental area . . . If it means nothing at all, that in itself means something. Even if the viewer doesn’t understand it, that, too, is an adventure. If other people are stimulated by it, I am pleased.” The sculpture was loaned for exhibition, to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and to the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum, Newport, CA.
Born in Philadelphia in 1910, Gabriel Kohn studied at the Cooper Union and Beaux−Arts Institute of Design in New York from 1929 to 1934. While pursuing his education, Kohn worked for academic sculptors. Upon graduating, he worked as a motion picture set designer in Hollywood. By the 1950s, Kohn was living in Paris and developing his own style, a combination of Cubist and Surrealist elements. His sculptural works have employed a variety of materials from terra cotta to plaster and wood. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena.
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