Michael Zansky is the artistic purveyor of the decay, debris and demise in an alternate universe of our civilization. His kinetic, symbolic and darkly playful work has some roots in more cheerful work of Alexander Calder.
Yet Calder also has a darker side, for while his elegant colorful mobiles may sway elegantly, his wire portrait sculptures, circus and other works indicate an ongoing struggle with balance through form and their more subdued colors and simplicity.
Clearly Calder was fascinated with movement, as is Zansky. Calder delved into movement and spatial relationships while Zansky’s movement seems usually related to time. Zansky’s works generally either involve movement or challenge the viewer to move along a gigantically scaled presentation, such as History as Ruin.
I was a fan of Michael Zansky’s work before even before he went to college. Michael is a schoolmate of mine from the High School of Music and Art. We were in various classes together, most notably for me, graphic arts with Mr. de Santos.
Back at M & A, I volunteered to work most of my lunchtimes in the guidance office as this allowed me to create my schedule each semester around my favorite art teacher, Mr. Bertram Katz.
Working in the guidance office also meant that I heard the teachers’ “gossip” about the students they thought would do well in various fields, or more likely my friend Karen did and she told me. By our senior year the word from the grapevine was that if any kids were going to make it and become professional artists it would be Michael Zansky and me.
Several years ago, after I had the notion to paint using symbols as strokes, that became the new Post Conceptual theory of art that I am founding, turned my life upside down changing careers to become a professional artist, one of the things I was suddenly curious about was, what happened to Michael Zansky?
I discovered that Michael is represented by the Nicholas Robinson Gallery. Recently he had a darkly delightful exhibition there entitled, The Western Lands. The title refers to both to the Western banks of the Nile, or the netherworld in ancient Egyptian belief, and the William S. Burroughs novel.
In this exhibit Michael Zansky continues his witty and disturbing exploration of a society in ruin and decay – a society that is very much like our own. Included in the works are classic books, dolls, busts of Plato, and other representative icons of our mass produced and a fantasized pop culture. Zansky’s work is always accessible and fascinating in its minutia as he depicts his decay in kinetic and luminous tableaux presentations.
In an article in NY Arts by D. Dominick Lombaridi, Michael Zansky speaks of his work, “Perception is fleeting. My work reflects the battle of the concrete and the ephemeral. It’s a comical situation without end.” Couldn’t that quote be applicable to Alexander Calder’s work, too?
Coincidentally, across Manhattan, The Whitney has a retrospective, Alexander Calder: The Paris Yeas 1926-1933.
One of the hallmarks of a great artist is the influence that artist has on other artists, even generations later. Calder is one of those artists whose influence can be seen in the work of many subsequent artists’ works. Among his pioneering influences are kinetic sculptures (including mobiles) and the use of line in sculpture.
Calder’s work is so accepted and well liked by people, including children as it can be fun and playful. The irony is that some of these children have grown up to become artists and Calder’s influence is sometimes overlooked as it occurred before art school.
Calder’s wire portraits, simplified and capturing the essential features and character of the pop figures of his time can be seen as the predecessors of Andy Warhol’s simplified silk screen Pop portraits capturing the people and pop icons of his time.
While Calder stresses the handmade quality (at that time) Warhol seeks to be mechanical. Yet, Calder’s later works, especially those large mobiles, are mechanically constructed in appearance.
Warhol’s focus on movement and time can be seen in his films. When he pointed his camera at a building or sleeping man and just let it film on, seemingly endlessly, the movement was not in what was depicted as much as in the machine that was depicting it, frame by frame.
Michael Zansky also uses the machinery, plus mirrors much like a camera to project onto large fresnel lenses images of a tableaux as it slowly turns in space. This is much the way that we are one step removed from the actual scene of a film or photograph (the camera being between us), except that it is possible to peek behind the lens to view the scene in reality.
Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol and Michael Zansky purposefully remind us that we are onlookers in their worlds of popular culture, audiences not participants. Each of these artists presents theatrical and unique views of our cultured skewered by their own views – and those views are not to be missed.
[Note: Michael Zansky’s kinetic works are rarely adequately captured by still photographs. To see more go to: www.michaelzansky.com and watch and listen to the video. Scroll down to the red “enter”, click on in and you’ll find another video and more about this artist.]
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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art at ungravenimage.com.
Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art theory is based at the intersection of ancient spiritual wisdom and cutting-edge contemporary science. It shows us a new and enhanced spiritual and science-based way to see the world. It is a life changing vision that can even become an actual new way of seeing that is a fulfillment of biblical prophecy. Can this be true? See for yourself.
Check out the Fine Art Limited Edition prints, decorative prints, books, and printables that are currently available to you through Judy Rey’s Art of Seeing The Divine Shop. You don’t have to buy to avail yourself of the art and inspiration available there. However, if you select to collect investment quality archival art, or decorate your home with images created with strokes that are original letters from Bible texts, or buy a gift for someone special, there is a secure shopping cart that accepts most credit cards so your purchase is easy to accomplish. https://artofseeingthedivine.com.
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