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
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."