Since the opening of its new, multimillion dollar structure, the Las Vegas Art Museum has been presenting contemporary works commensurate with the new surroundings. In keeping with this new emphasis, Essie Pinsker, whose sculptures have been acquired by 21 museums during her 40-year career as an artist, was chosen as the subject of a lifetime retrospective exhibition.
Her immensely personal style of marble and bronze imagery is showcased through a selection of six series that have dominated her work. Her "Abstract/Figurative " series is an homage to Henry Moore, as well as being inspired by Biblical references and the relationships of mother and child.
The "Gordian Knot" (1986-90) series displays solid geometric configurations of interlocking shapes; "Other Realities" (1988-90) consists of contoured, swirling masses suggesting a metaphysical presence; "Metamorphosis " (1993-97) is a dramatic series of larger, bulbous shapes.
"Constructions " (1970-present) represents a shift from volume to linear geometry of curved points
"In the Beginning," Bronze, 34" x 23" x 17"
and straight edges; and "Windows" (1997) consists of recent scale models of works designed for public squares or parks.
Pinsker's work in marble reflects her interest in volumetric forms, whereas her work in iron and steel is more personal and emotional. "Semblances" (1989) is an abstract bronze whose conundrum of twists, curls, and curves suggests ocean waves. The artist pushes the limits of the material while addressing content intellectually and formally.
"Scribe" (1989) is a dynamic white marble portrayal of a man in a white robe and hood, walking determinedly and yet gracefully. The robe's fabric appears to float as the body of the scribe extends forward. The deep contours and rounded shoulders combine various forms of solid geometry.
Pinsker is as much at home with large works as she is with small ones. For example, the "Gordian Knot" series includes "Ronde" (1985), an expressive travertine sculpture that is an imaginative representation of the legendary knot. The rounded surfaces and squared edges merge abstract form, figurative image, and surface texture fully, suggesting a tightly wound knot that is seemingly impossible to undo.
Pinsker brings a bicoastal perspective as well as her experience as a painter and journalist to her work as a sculptor. This retrospective of the work of an artist at the height of her powers should help the Las Vegas Art Museum reach a public that has seen the city as one-dimensional ("if you can't place a bet on it, it isn't Las Vegas").
Chuck N. Baker