John Chamberlain: ChoicesExhibition |
It's a shame that John Chamberlain didn't live to see the career retrospective of his work currently filling the spiraling walls of the Guggenheim. The show is a fitting tribute to the man known almost exclusively for his sculptures made of twisted car metal, but who had a facility with so many other mediums. Chamberlain was a collagist who studied with the poets at the famed Black Mountain College and through poetry became interested in what happens when incongruities met. The collisions of sounds, words, or ideas forms the heart of his work and early on he recognized that the industrial clash of processed, discarded metal was the defining interaction of his age. Crumpled like paper in one work and sharpened to a dangerous edge in another, Chamberlain made the power tool his brush before such a thing was so obvious. When he veered away from that metallic muse, he was equally eloquent with Plexiglas or foam, his vision as malleable as the materials he worked with. Dolores James from 1962 achieves a kind of pinnacle atop a very high career plateau. Fixed to the wall it looks as if could fall apart or blast off at any moment.