Judy Pfaff, born in London, England, makes incredible and very organic looking sculptures. She was one of the first to being doing installation art during the 70’s. She has even done work for the stages in theater productions. There is a sense of lightness about her sculptures. Her materials often involve steel, fiberglass, plaster, and natural elements.
Woven magnet wire, steel, blown glass
h: 95 x w: 125 x d: 75 in
This is a great example of the use of the materials that she uses in order to make them into organic shapes. There is an extreme amount of curvilinear quality of line in this piece. It is amazing to me that she can use things that are so industrial in nature and turn them into something so organic and natural. My eye seems to always end up in the middle circular object, and I would say that that is the emphasis and focal point from which the other elements emanate from. The almost zigzag shape that starts at the small yellow, natural, caged in element and traveling to the end of crazy lines, seems to defy the gravity of the space. All of the colors are quite natural except for the bright yellow, which I think is part of the blown glass material that she used. I think this extreme color brings our attention back to the hard figure of the steel and wire that seems to entrap the other organic elements.
“…all of the above”, 2007
Vine, steel, black foil, rope, string, UV light, spheres cast from cannon balls, foam board
44ft x 40ft room
The title “…all of the above” definitely helps create a sense for what this instillation is about. It’s almost as if the chaotic stuff in the top of the room is the ‘above’ of the bottom circular elements. There is a definite shift in quality of curvilinear lines that protrude from the ceiling. The vine that was used here was taken from her New York property have been stained with dye and draped across the ceiling as if it is snaking across. The balls that are hanging from the ceiling make me feel as if the above is descending into the bellow and both are become a part of each other. I also feel that the steps of the white foam circles are trying to ascend in to all that is above. The colors in this space really work well together as the neutral white, black, and greys are offset and contrasted with by the bright blue of the UV light.
“Straw Into Gold”, 1990
Steel wire, glass and tin cans
9 feet 6 inches x 9 feet 10 inches x 8 feet 4 inches
I chose to show this piece because it sort of shows her development as an artist because this is such an earlier piece. However, she is still playing with the idea of natural and industrial materials being formed into a very organic shape. The lines of the wire are again very curvilinear and show many different thicknesses and variations in the quality of line. I think the linear manner of her organic sculptures and instillations are somewhat unavoidable with the materials she works with. In this piece, I think that the title is necessary in order to see the meaning of this piece. The connotation of gold is represent here with the copper looking steel wire and it is almost as if something meaningless, the white part to the left that has more open spaces, has turned into something expensive and worth more in value, the right part that is dense and chaotic.
The next four are four different pieces with their own separate titles but are part of a piece called “Paper.”
“Nature does not knock”, 2009
This one is interesting when you take the title into mind. Nature itself does not seem to knock to ask if it is okay if she comes into our life, she just so happens to come whenever she pleases whether it’s beautiful or not. And I think this piece from paper delivers that message. There is impeccable attention to detail and colors on this piece that she created using paper.
“The thing with feathers”, 2009
This piece of her Paper work is really pleasing to my eye. The soft, pastel colors of these pieces of paper leave the white feathers to be found. It is still organic in nature which is still true to who Pfaff is.
94 1/2 x 94 1/2 inches
This piece seems to be an afterthought of the previous; that bright red splotch in the left hand side of the picture frame in the previous piece is mimicked here all over. Again, the attention to color is beautiful here. She, also being true to herself, plays with the use of line and a 3D nature of the work. The almost ball like paper flowerish things towards the middle of the work are interesting and detailed; although they almost blend in, I think they are very powerful pieces. I do not know if I agree, though, with the random poppy just to the left of the yellow ball other than it works well with the color scheme and the nature effect.
"I dwell in possibility”, 2008
This one really plays into some of her recent installation pieces with the neutral and calm backgrounds playing into the harsh nature of the black organic mobs of line. This one is also pleasing to my own eye because of this contrast that she has created. There also seems to be an Asian inspiration in this work with the fan like figures, clouds, and weird black tree like lines and leaves. The dwelling she has done in the possibilities of what nature can be really shows who Pfaff is as an artist.