Artwork by Sorel Etrog,  Small Chair (Hand)

Sorel Etrog
Small Chair (Hand)

bronze
stamped signature and editioned 2/7
17.5 x 9.5 x 8.5 ins ( 44.5 x 24.1 x 21.6 cms ) ( overall )

Sold for $28,320.00
Sale date: November 19th 2019

Provenance:
Private Collection, Florida
Private Collection, Ontario
Literature:
Pierre Restany, Sorel Etrog, Munich, 2002, page 77
Florian Rodari, “Secret Paths, 1999-2000” in Ihor Holubizky (ed.), Sorel Etrog: Five Decades, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, page 103
One of the most recognizable recurring themes in Sorel Etrog’s work, the Links series’ “hands” encapsulate the artist’s exploration of bodily form in contemporary sculptural practices of the Post-War era. Throughout the Links period of Etrog’s work, the preoccupation of linking different parts of the body seamlessly was paramount. Deeply influenced by ancient carving and sculpture techniques, Etrog notes: “I was lucky to have discovered the Etruscan links which showed me how to join the multiple shapes organically. The Link created a tension at the point where they joined, where they pulled together or pulled apart.” Etrog was developing a new visual language of the body, wrapped in internal and external tensions with the use of the linking of body parts. There is a psychological element at play in these works, an inherent tension trying to break free from the bodily constraints seeking freedom.

On the importance of these link elements, Florian Rodari writes: “Inasmuch as they are points of maximum energy, these nerve centres where the body hinges and joins do their work are by nature painful; they are nodes of increased vulnerability.” “Small Chair (Hand)” exemplifies the human condition Etrog was exploring throughout his body of work and the inherent tensions within the forms. The hand becomes a chair, an object to cradle and hold a sitter. The tension in the links with the comforting quality of the chair creates a complex emotive experience, whereby the object is at once vulnerable and tense while still managing to offer comfort to another.

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Sorel Etrog
(1933 - 2014) RCA

Born in Jassy, Romania, he studied painting there between 1949 and 1950, and emigrated to Israel where he studied at the Institute of Painting and Sculpture at Tel-Aviv. In 1958 he won a scholarship to the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York. Later a resident of Toronto, he commuted to his Toronto studio located in a factory overlooking the city’s waterfront.

In reviewing his sculpture, W. J. Withrow, Director, the Art Gallery of Toronto, noted, “. . . In all his work to this date there had been a tendency to combine free, curving lines with geometric shapes and this uneasy combination continued to challenge him in his sculpture . . .” Using for example Etrog’s “Blossom”, a 42” high work in bronze, Withrow continued, “. . . Blossom . . . is one of his first sculptures to meld successfully the organic and the mathematical. It is also a work which illustrates very well Etrog’s preoccupation with evolution: birth, youth, maturity and constant change . . . In spite of new developments all his 1964 work retains certain familiar continuing qualities: a wonderful sense of mass related to but unburdened by the demands of gravity and that unique and peculiar proclivity to corkscrew the masses in space.”

Sorel Etrog’s work develops a complex visual vocabulary that explores time and the permanent bond between the plastic arts, with architecture on one hand, and society on the other. Etrog explores spontaneous symbols, primal elements and the relationship between form and symbol. The artist described his art as "tension created by pulling together and pulling apart, with being stuck and being freed, a world of grabbing and holding on and losing hold...bringing shapes together but at the same time giving each an independence."Etrog continued to develop his new concepts through his personal sculpture and attracted considerable attention in art circles. His work varies in height from half a foot to over six feet.

Etrog designed Canada's top film award in 1968, "the Genie" statuette (which was known as "the Etrog" until 1980). He received several important commissions, including those for Expo ’67, Montreal; SunLife Centre, Toronto; Windsor Sculpture Garden, Windsor, Ontario; Los Angeles County Museum, and Olympic Park in Seoul, Korea.

Sources: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977