Kinetic and kaleidoscopic, the experimental work of a postwar Pittsburgh artist has come back down to earth. “Aaronel deRoy Gruber—Plexiglas Sculptures From the ’60’s and ’70’s,” organized with the help of the Irving and Aaronel deRoy Gruber Foundation and on view at the New York gallery 57W57Arts through June 9, features pieces in colored and colorless clear acrylic. They’re assembled in a setting as maverick as the work itself.
Because the proprietors of 57W57Arts are a psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Ravitz, and his wife, Sue, it shares an office suite with his practice. The gallery proper occupies three of its own spaces in addition to spilling into the waiting room. Exhibitions have included “Black and White,” which I curated.
Much of the suite is filled with a collection of modernist paintings, sculptures, and furnishings, colorful with a minimalist bent. For the Ravitzes, who began collecting Gruber’s work a few years ago, just before the gallery opened, this show is a way to explore the dialogue between art and industrial design. That’s clearly evident in one of the gallery spaces, where a Gruber sculpture on a pedestal meets bright red plastic-clad Softline shelving by Otto Zapf and an Italian 1970’s cube lamp in green and blue acrylic.
The 57W57Arts show focuses almost exclusively on Gruber’s colorful and lapidary sculptures, meticulously constructed from vacuum-formed acrylic. They are often self-illuminating, and about half revolve, powered by a motor in the base. Highlights include a large colorless revolving cube with her trademark rounded protrusions—a shape likened to early TV screens, camera lenses, or eyes—and a composition of convex/concave multicolored triangles.
She was influenced, like everyone working in plastic in the 1960’s, by László Moholy-Nagy’s 1930’s experiments in the material, by his manipulation of viewer perceptions with changes of position and lighting conditions. The title alone of Gruber’s Revolving Eye suggests that her sculpture is an iteration of Moholy-Nagy’s vision-in-motion. Still, as one critic noted of her art, “It’s not like any plastic sculpture you have seen before. . . .”
Source: Interior Design