Tiffany Bell for The Empire State Collection

 

Gyora Novak 1934

Although Gyora Novak's work appears to have been influenced by his American contemporaries, it is distinguished by an attitude toward materials that is rooted in European traditions. Born in Israel in 1934, he has been a shepherd, soldier, collector, and parrot breeder. Self-taught, he began painting and sculpting in 1955 and since that time has lived in Israel, England, France, Japan, and the United States. Novak first showed his paintings and sculptures in New York City in the early 1960's. His art from that period is similar to the abstract and Minimal sculptures that were gaining public attention at that time. Its emphasis on craftsman like precision is more characteristic of the European Neo-Plastic and Bauhaus traditions, however. The precisely defined geometric shapes and the colors of Novak's large paintings create an illusion of movement. The sculptures are composed of interlocking stainless-steel rectangular slabs, carefully balanced on corners.

Links, which was exhibited at the Whitney Museum Sculpture Annual in 1967, also shares characteristics of works by Novak's American contemporaries. The large scale and repeated modular units of Links recall the sculpture of Donald Judd and Carl Andre. Yet, beautifully crafted in carved and laminated wood and lacquered in black, it has a more elegant look than either Judd's boxes or Andre's metal sheets. Furthermore, the placement of Novak's sculpture is not rigidly defined nor so dependent on establishing a relationship to its surrounding space. Links can be displayed in various positions: hanging on the wall, pilled on the floor, or, as exhibited in the collection, suspended overhead. As it is shown here, the sculpture can move with the air currents and it reflects light. According to one reviewer: "The exquisite craftsmanship, the poetry of scale and the straightforward but imaginative use of module devices caused a revision in the meaning of the image employed and made these chains, not chains of affliction, but chains in the chain of life---the kind of chains that set you free."

T.B.




 

 This links sculpture is over fourteen feet in length.

 

 

 

About Novak's Artwork

Hans Van Werengrick for The Jewish Museum | Paul Jenkins, Artist | Tiffany Bell for The Empire State Collection

Gordon Washburn, Director of Asia House, Art Exhibitions | Dorothy Miller, Curator of Modern Art, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Arthur Drexler, Director Dept. of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC
Barnett Glimpsher, The Pace Gallery | Barnett Newman, Artist

 

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