Schneider Museum of Art
Fighting Men: Golub, Voulkos, Kirby, curated by Daniel Duford
An exhibition curated for the Ronna and Eric Hoffman Gallery of Contemporary Art, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, OR
About Fighting Men, an essay by guest curator Daniel Duford
Jack Kirby (1917-1994), Leon Golub (1922-2004), and Peter Voulkos (1924-2000) occupy alternate dimensions. Their achievements are chronicled in different art histories, each with its own priorities. They were all immersed in discredited mediums and subject matter. They don’t fit neatly. At times their work looks conservative and backward; at other times those same qualities seem urgent and prophetic. They rooted around in the mud of history and myth, emerging with their own muscular and ham-fisted approach to their respective materials.
The specter of violence and the consequences of power animate this exhibition. Raw power emanates from the artwork. To watch Peter Voulkos manipulate a huge mound of clay on the wheel and rip and tear at the resulting form is a spectacle of brute force. The sheer strength required of Voulkos to make his work bespeaks extraordinary physical prowess. Power animated Jack Kirby’s superhero comics; his best known and most personal work depicted beings literally crackling with sublime cosmic energy. Leon Golub’s large-scale canvases display a similar material chutzpah as Voulkos’ vessels, but Golub was also preoccupied with power in another sense of the word. For Golub, power and force were the abiding concerns of his paintings—the misuse of political power and the complicity of the citizen and artist in the power of the state. Of course, Kirby’s stories may seem to glorify physical and metaphysical force as a means of keeping order, but his most personal work always contains ambivalence about power.
Recent Work by Vanessa Calvert
The Museum’s Treehaven Gallery features sculptural work created by Vanessa Calvert during her month-long residency at Southern Oregon University. This exhibition was funded by the Ford Family Foundation