Robert Graham at LACMA

January 6, 2009

Retrospective Column I, 1981, cast 1986

Sculptor Robert Graham (1938-2008) died December 27. Born in Mexico City, the Los Angeles artist is represented by nearly forty works in LACMA's permanent collection. One of these is a major installation currently on view and entitled Retrospective Column I. In this sculpture, planes of bronze are punctuated and indented to reveal tiny sensual human forms, mostly of women but also of couples. In other sections of the towering, floor-to-ceiling column (it is 192 inches high and 30 inches square), large female figures emerge partially exposed from previously molten metal as if rising through water. First modeled in 1981, the sculpture was cast in 1986 for LACMA's then-new Anderson Building (facing Wilshire and now known as the Art of the Americas Building). In the light-filled triangular gallery it occupies on the third floor, Graham's Retrospective Column I envelops a permanent structural column of this building, cladding the load-bearing pillar in bronze and the figurative sculpture for which is he best known.

Austen Bailly

Detail, Retrospective Column I