Richard Stankiewicz (1922-1983): Sculpture
The Art Newspaper
September 01, 2003
The poet John Ashbery once referred to the late sculptor Richard Stankiewicz as the “Audubon of junkyards.” It is a perceptive observation, encapsulating Stankiewicz’s propensity for using humble materials such as plumber’s fittings and auto parts. The artist, who died in 1983, became known as early as the 1950s for welding junk metal into lively, humorous compositions that blurred the distinction between sculpture and assem-blage, and incorporated a rich variety of influences, including African tribal sculpture, the collages of Picasso and Schwitters, and the work of his teachers (Hans Hoffman in New York; followed by Leger and Zadkine in Paris). Though Stankiewicz’s work was an important link in the chain that connected the French Nouveau Realists to Americans, such as, Rauschenberg and Oldenburg, his own reputation slipped into relative obscurity in the wake of Pop, Minimalism and Conceptual Art. Virginia Zabriskie has been fiercely dedicated to promoting Stankiewicz’s work since she began showing it in 1972; this month, on the occasion of the retrospective’s appearance at New York’s AXA Galleries (until 25 September), her gallery shows a selection of Stankiewicz sculptures spanning the 1950s to the 1970s (9 September-18 October), some of which have not been seen in New York since Stankiewicz was showing at the legendary Hansa Gallery and Stable Gallery.