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Joel Shapiro (born 1941 New York) is an American sculptor famous for his dynamic works composed of simple rectangular shapes. His figurative works and psychological references marked the end of the minimalist domination of art. He received a B.A. in 1964 and a M.A. in 1969 from the New York University. Live and work in New York City.
Shapiro’s early work focused on certain aspects of the predominant minimalist aesthetic, including its simple geometric shapes and the placement of objects directly on the ground instead of on pedestals. However, by choosing a few relevant objects-such as a house, a chair, or a bridge-Shapiro invited narrative and psychological associations that minimalists had explicitly avoided. He also emptied his sculptures in bronze or carved them out of a piece of rock using traditional carving techniques and materials that minimalists had rejected. However, his subtle rebellions were not enough to interfere with his career, nor to prevent his person from being associated with the minimalist movement.
In the 1980s, Shapiro began carving wooden sculptures, enthusing about how relatively quickly he was able to get results with this material, especially when compared to the long process that must be followed to make bronze statues. . The works and figures of this period, both in bronze and in wood, are constructions of rectangles with shapes of blocks joined in dynamic positions that defy gravity.
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