Roy Gussow

American, 1918 - 2011

Artist's website

Roy Gussow was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1918. His interests in art lead him to Chicago where he studied under Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Alexander Archipenko. He graduated from the Institute of Design in Chicago with a BS in Industrial Design. Among his early achievements, Gussow worked as an assistant to Archipenko at the Institute and at his Woodstock Summer School in 1946. Gussow is a sculptor working primarily in steel. His pieces can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, and the Brooklyn Museum. 

What is distinctive in Gussow's work is the harmony of his poetic sensibility and its expression through total control of the physical presence of the object. The technical virtuosity displayed in these pieces is arresting, but the sense of finish imparted by the work rests on more than its competent execution. The design is impeccable. The separate shapes attract and pull toward one another. Some suggest a unit that is in the process of dividing. The complementary elements create their own system of gravity. So perfectly realized are the interrelationships of the elements in the piece that they seem inevitable. The rhythms of curve and undulation, of both solid elements and the negative spaces created by the placement of those shapes, vary as one is carried around the work. Looking through it, one observes changing reflections on the surfaces. A great deal is going on in this work. The spaces embraced by forms are charged with a crackling energy. The surface of the metal reflects its surroundings, knitting the work into its environment. The reflectivity creates areas of white light that eradicate the weight of the material. Edges seem hard or soft depending, literally, on one's point of view. In their environment, these works seem to hover between materiality and ambiguity.

He was the recipient of the prestigious Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant in 1998. He spent his professional career as both an artist and an educator. Gussow taught at the School of Design at North Carolina State University from 1951-1962, as well as at The Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY, Columbia University, and the University of Pennsylvania. Gussow died in 2011.

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