Joseph Konzal

Cretan Queen


Not on display

Joseph Konzal 1905–1994
Steel on stone base
Object: 1880 × 470 × 368 mm
Presented by Joseph L. Shulman through the American Federation of Arts 1966

Catalogue entry

Joseph Konzal born 1905

T00874 Cretan Queen 1963-4

Not inscribed
Steel on stone base, 74 x 18 1/2 x 14 1/2 (188 x 47 x 37)
Presented by Joseph L. Shulman through the American Federation of Arts 1966
Prov. Joseph L. Shulman, Hartford, Conn. (purchased from the artist through the Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, 1966)
Exh: Konzal, Bertha Schaefer Gallery, New York, March 1965 (works not listed); New Jersey and the Artist, New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, October-November 1965 (works not numbered)

'Cretan Queen' was begun with other sculptures for Konzal's one-man show at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery in 1963, but was not finished until the following year.

He writes (letter of 20 May 1973) that 'I regard the work of this period as constructivist, tinged with a kind of Romanticism that is also reflected in the titles. It was also the first time I became interested in the use of color in sculpture, a problem I had avoided as being irrelevant to the basic problems of sculpture.

'I had begun to use welding as a technique around 1956. In this I found a new freedom of choice which, combined with the use of everyday materials such as nails, tubing etc. led me to explore new avenues of a more contemporary approach.

'"Cretan Queen" is one of a series of steel tubing pieces on which I was concentrating in 1959-1965. This form still interests me and in my last exhibition in 1971 I showed a piece, "Double Column" made of 18" diameter paper tubing about 8' high. I am now making models for large scale sculpture to be made of steel tubing.

'Companion pieces to "Cretan Queen", made around the same time and also of steel tubing are:

'"Rain-god", collection Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC
'"Gladiator", collection of Mr & Mrs Howard Lipman, NYC
'"Pallas Athena", collection of Mrs Bernard Hecht, NYC
'These works were the culmination of this period.'

He added that the dichotomy between the archaism suggested by the titles and the use of modern technological forms could be explained by the fact that Constructivism, Cubism and much contemporary abstract art derived their inspiration from primitive sources, Cycladic Islands, Crete, pre-Columbian South America and West Coast Africa etc. 'The titles in my 1965 exhibition at the Bertha Schaefer Gallery have, by and large, really "nothing to do" with the sculptures themselves other than in adumbrating the rich, historical association of these ancient civilizations. Selecting the titles was done in retrospect, after the works had been completed and ready for exhibition. The titles "White Queen", "Arena", and "Cretan Queen" for instance, cannot be interchanged among the three pieces of sculpture involved since the choice was determined by my strong feeling that one title fitted better than the others and therefore was exclusively appropriate to the particular sculpture.'

In a statement about his sculpture written in 1963, he observed: 'I think of my sculptures as complexes or as series of complexes, based on primary structures such as simple T and Y formations. These are extended into further angular thrusts and supporting counter rhythms by repetitive elements which proliferate; pierce and enclose space. More recently large metal plates have been introduced into the work.

'The composition is often begun on a post (the vertical member of the T or Y), which starts the lift and later serves to separate the sculpture and its activities from the necessary underpinning or base, and which provides a greater opportunity for a taut, yet buoyant concept.'

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.395-6, reproduced p.395

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