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Collection > John Chamberlain >

Red Beatts

1988

  • Medium

    Painted and chromium plated steel

  • Dimensions

    127 3/8 x 66 1/2 x 51 1/8 in. (323.5 x 168.9 x 129.9 cm)

  • Accession number

    88.33

  • Object label

    In Red Beatts John Chamberlain shaped curling ribbons of scratched and dinged painted steel and shiny chromium-plated steel into a freestanding tower. Because he composed his sculptures, made of salvaged automobile parts, on the fly, without the aid of preparatory sketches or models, he is often compared to a painter working improvisationally, and his fenders and bumpers are likened to brushstrokes. However, if this view of Chamberlain’s process emphasizes the personally expressive aspects of his work, focusing on his materials leads to a rather different assessment. His use of industrial automotive materials aligns artistic creation with the impersonal, regimented methods of manufacturing. Still other types of analysis concentrate on Chamberlain’s imagery, suggesting that crushed metal alludes to car crashes and violence, though the artist’s careful arrangement of curling tendrils has an elegance that minimizes the sculpture’s associations with wreckage.

    Chamberlain studied at Black Mountain College from 1955 to 1956.