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Inside the Sculptor’s Studio
How are large works of public art created? The public is invited to find out by visiting "Fletcher Benton: The Artist’s Studio" at Santa Clara University's de Saisset Museum from Aug. 16 to Dec. 6.
The exhibition uses mural-size photographs of the artist's studio to bring visitors inside the process of creating his signature monumental sculptures. It also incorporates the sounds, textures, and even smells of the artist's studio, as well as a video of Benton discussing his studio practice.
The focus is "Fletcher Benton's practice—how he executes these large-scale works and what that process is for him," said Lindsey Kouvaris, curator of exhibits and collections at the de Saisset Museum.
The exhibition includes several finished pieces of varying size as well as a number of the three-dimensional models that Benton uses to create his sculptures. One of the sculptures is too large to fit inside the museum, so it will be installed outdoors.
Benton, a San Francisco-based metal sculptor who is known for his public artwork, tends to use geometric forms rather than figures in his sculptures, Kouvaris said. Benton's best known sculpture in the South Bay is a good illustration of this: the large geometric shapes in Palo Alto on the corner of El Camino Real and Page Mill Road.
People who do not make sculpture don't have a sense of how it comes to be, how it goes from raw material to a work of art. This is sort of a behind-the-scenes experience.
The traveling exhibition was organized by the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. "People who do not make sculpture don't have a sense of how it comes to be, how it goes from raw material to a work of art," Kouvaris said. "This is sort of a behind-the-scenes experience."
A companion exhibition, "Fletcher Benton: In Motion," will showcase Benton's kinetic work: sculpture that moves. This was a focus of Benton's early career in the 1960s and 70s.
The sculptures depict motion in a variety of ways. In some it's clear how the motion works, in others the pattern is so complex that the action appears random, and in still others the movement is so slow that it's difficult to perceive.
The exhibition is built from the de Saisset Museum's private collection as well as Benton's own collection and will include several pieces that have not often been seen in public.
In Motion: Cylinder with Red Circle, 1965, 18 x 10 x 7 in., aluminum and brass. Courtesy of the Fletcher Benton Studio, photo: M. Lee Fatheree © 1991 Fletcher Benton/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.
In Motion: Rock and Roll, 1964, aluminum, plexiglas, and laminates, 60 x 41 x 14 in. Courtesy of the Fletcher Benton Studio, photo: M. Lee Fatheree © 1991 Fletcher Benton/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.