1993 Donald Lipski "Pieces of String" Abstract Caged Art Exhibit Sculpture 28"



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Donald Lipski B.1947
American sculptor. He received a BA from University of Wisconsin in 1970, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, in 1973. From 1973 to 1977 he was Assistant Professor of Art at The University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. While his first interests were in the video and behavioural art of the 1970s, he became known in the early 1980s for large installations of sculptures made from objects found discarded in the street.

In "Passing Time", exhibited in 1980 at The Butler Institute, he employed various large and small objects to produce an installation with abstract formal concerns, but a light, comical air. In the mid-1980s Lipski's work was increasingly marked by the iconography of Surrealism, and he began to exhibit sculpture concentrated more on the impact of single objects.

The series "Building Steam", employed such motifs as books and devices such as wrapping, along with incongruous surfaces and strange appendages. For example, "Building Steam #383", exhibited in 1985 at The Butler Institute, is a fire bucket encased in a bandage with a shiny metallic curved surface occluding the bottom of the bucket.

The "Waxmusic and Candelabracadabra" (c 1992) series continued to mine Surrealist effects with a series of sculptures employing white candles and the empty boxes of musical instruments. The series "Who's Afraid of Red, White and Blue?" brought this approach into conjunction with the motif of the American flag, which was combined in various ways with often old, rusty found objects redolent of Americana. The frequent use of circular motifs in this series suggests the continuance of his initial formal interests alongside his later figurative approach.
When Lipski moved from New York in 1993, he abandoned his cavernous studio, an old movie theater in Greenpoint Brooklyn. He took all the objects he had amassed there which had yet to find a place in a completed artwork, and located them to the Grand Lobby of The Brooklyn Museum. These many truckloads of material were eventually sealed in cages as a project done with the Carl Solway Gallery in Cincinnati. The cages that are now Pieces of String Too Short To Save are now in the collection of the University of Kentucky Art Museum in Lexington. Roberta Smith thought the work suggests "that the world is full of Duchampian ready-mades, some of which look exactly like Lipskis.

A snippet from the original press release: "April 1, 1993 Artist Donald Lipski will create The Brooklyn Museum’s 33rd Grand Lobby installation by using everyday objects he has collected from 1978 to 1993, many of them from the streets of New York. Entitled Pieces of String Too Short to Save, the installation will be on view from May 20 through September 5, 1993.

Many of the objects, including gloves, candles, books, and string, were found on the streets of TriBeCa, in lower Manhattan, where Lipski had a studio from 1978 through 1984. After moving to a larger studio space in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, in 1984, Lipski’s rate of collecting accelerated, purchasing objects at salvage yards, hardware stores, flea markets, and bazaars. “I would take basically anything that seemed to me fertile, a material that could end up in the sculpture.”

For the installation at The Brooklyn Museum, Lipski will sift through the fifteen years of accumulated objects, arranging the pieces on the Lobby’s back wall, as well as creating piles of objects on the floor in front. “I am going to think of this Grand Lobby installation as two artworks: the wall piece, and the piles on the floor,” said the artist; “two parts of the same thing, but with dramatically different presentations.”

Following other twentieth-century artists like Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell, who have used found materials, Lipski states that by using common objects and placing them in an art context, they achieve “art status.” “For me, the irony is taking this stuff and saying: it is now a sculpture, just by virtue of its placement,” says the artist

The title of the work, Pieces of String Too Short to Save, is derived from an article Lipski read in The Sciences about an amateur naturalist in Upstate New York, who had among his personal objects when he died in 1989 a box of assorted scraps labeled “Pieces of String Too Short to Save.” When Lipski was planning the installation, he decided the phrase on the box summed up for him what the work was all about, yet the title is paradoxical, as amassing pieces of things is exactly what the artist has done.

Donald Lipski was born in Chicago in 1947. He received his bachelor of arts degree in American history in 1970 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1973 he was awarded an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomsfield Hills, Michigan. His work has been shown nationally and internationally at Artists Space, New York, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati; and, in 1981, The Artists at Work in America, an exhibition in Varna, Bulgaria, organized by the United States State Department. In 1985 Lipski, who then maintained a Brooklyn studio, was included in the exhibition Working in Brooklyn/Sculpture at The Brooklyn Museum. His work is in the collections of The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Menil Collection, Houston, among others.

This Grand Lobby project was co-organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art, and Charlotta Kotik, Chair of the Department of Painting and Sculpture and Curator of Contemporary Art, with the assistance of Vesela Sretenovic, a curatorial intern funded by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund. The exhibition and its associated Artist-in-Residence programs are made possible by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund.

Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1989 - 1994. 01-06/1993, 049-51.


Good overall, some broken glass bottle shards inside.


14.75" x 26.75" x 27.75; VERY heavy