Kayne Griffin Corcoran is proud to present an historical survey of early sculpture by John Mason. Curated by Frank Lloyd, this exhibit introduces viewers to the immense achievement of John Mason in late 20th century sculpture. Mason’s monumental works derived from his investigation of the properties of his medium, but also embodied essential ideas, and illustrated formal principles. Mason’s work has often been limited by media-specific curatorial intent. In contrast, we will present sculpture that illustrate the basis for Mason’s line of thought, his insistent and inventive methods, and the subsequent progression through several series. These raw and powerful works address the themes of symmetry, mass, modularity, and rotation—each of which is recurrent in Mason’s career. All of those concepts evolved from the artist’s direct physical interaction with the material. The exhibit tracks the development with examples from the years 1958 to 1969.
For John Mason, the defined turning point in his early career was the development of large-scale sculpture. Mason has always been a pensive man who has followed his own path, committed to the physical process. He is a sculptor who builds with basic forms, yet also investigates ideas. In 1957 Mason moved to a shared Glendale Boulevard studio where he began to develop methods and concepts which would sustain his work throughout his career. At first, John Mason began to make massive rough-hewn walls and then, in 1959-60, he broke into another kind of building, a totemic verticality that seemed at once to be thrusting and primitive. He eventually built huge cross forms, and by the middle 1960s he made solid, mysterious geometric shapes.
Two works in this exhibit represent the early vertical sculptures, which Mason began to develop by working with the raw physicality of the material, and the weight and plasticity of clay. Instead of slamming it down on the floor, as he had done with the material for the Blue Wall in 1959, Mason began to build around a central axis, in a very straightforward and simple fashion. There is a palpable sense of the discovery of this method and the strikingly totemic vertical sculptures that he began to produce.
John Mason continues to live and work in Los Angeles, California. Since the late 1950s, when he exhibited at the legendary Ferus Gallery, Mason has had one-man shows at the Pasadena Museum of Art (1960 and 1974), the Los Angeles County Museum (1966), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1978), and the Hudson River Museum (1978), among others. His work is represented in numerous major museum collections, including the Norton Simon Museum of Art, Pasadena, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
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