James Surls: The Splendora Years, 1977-1997

DeCordova Exhibits
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On View 2006

The Splendora Years features two decades of work by renowned contemporary American sculptor James Surls, whose animistic sculptures derive from the forces, imagery, and materials of nature. This show includes 47 works of art, ranging from table-top wood carvings to monumental forms literally hacked from fully grown trees with a chainsaw; and from intimate, visionary pencil drawings to large-scale prints. The exhibition offers American audiences a rare opportunity to fully assess the depth and breadth of Surls’s important contribution to the field of contemporary sculpture.

James Surls makes art that embodies the inherent dualities of natural forces. His work is simultaneously joyously optimistic and darkly expressionistic. His signature forms and images, such as diamond shapes, whirling vortexes, needles, knives, and houses, infuse highly personalized folk idioms with the aesthetics of high modernism.

The exhibition has been organized by Terrie Sultan, Director of Blaffer Gallery, The Art Museum of the University of Houston. Generous support has been provided from an anonymous donor, the Eleanor and Frank Freed Foundation, Houston Endowment Inc., Marilyn Oshman, Jane Blaffer Owen, and Carey C. Shuart. The onsite curator for The Splendora Years is Rachel Rosenfield Lafo, Director of Curatorial Affairs.

Funding was also provided by Nancy C. Allen, Tim and Nancy Hanley, Ann and James Harithas, Claudia and David Hatcher, Molly Hipp and Ford Hubbard III, Sharon and Gus Kopriva, Nancy and Rob Martin, Karen and Eric Pulaski, Shirley and Don Rose, and Texas State Bank. The Splendora Years is accompanied by a full-color catalogue.