Year created:
Buzzing It Down, Gary Webb
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222 x 44 x 44 inches

Aluminum and paint
Courtesy of the artist and Bortolami Gallery, New York, NY

No longer on view.

British sculptor Gary Webb is well known for his use of myriad materials—including steel, aluminum, glass, mirror, plastic, brass, wood, brick, spray paint, fabrics, and assorted found objects—along with an exuberant mastery of color and composition. Buzzing It Down was created specifically for the exhibition Gary Webb: Mr. Jeans (at deCordova from May 26–August 12, 2012) and exemplifies Webb’s characteristically vibrant and eccentric approach to sculpture.

Webb often creates enigmatic forms that are influenced by high-end furniture design, retail display, mass-produced objects, and techniques of advertising.  But Buzzing It Down, a twenty-two foot tower comprised of four roughly identical aluminum pieces, clearly acknowledges and subverts one of Webb’s most critical references: the cannon of Modernist sculpture.  

Buzzing It Down is reminiscent of Constantin Brancusi’s iconic, early twentieth century Endless Column—a  tower of identical rhomboids that culminated in a half-rhomboid to suggest an extrapolation to infinity.  Brancusi executed this idea many times, in many materials. Its most familiar manifestation is the 100-foot tall bronze Column of the Infinite, a major component of the Romanian war memorial he created at Tirgu-Jiu in 1938. With Buzzing It Down, Webb pays homage to the Endless Column, but with a characteristic jab. Here Webb roughly violates one of the great laws of Modernist sculpture, architecture, and design: Truth to Materials. The doctrine of Truth to Materials suggests that forms should be dictated by materials, and that the intrinsic nature of materials should never be hidden or altered by the artist, but respected. Webb perverts this notion entirely by making the surfaces of Buzzing It Down look as if they were worked by hand, thus making aluminum masquerade as clay. This attitude pervades Webb’s practice and adds yet another engaging visual element to this bold, multicolored, arresting sculpture.

Gary Webb was born in 1973 in Bascombe, Dorset, UK, and currently lives and works in London. He received a BA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College, London, and is represented by the Bortolami Gallery in New York and The Approach in London. His last major museum exhibition, Mirage of Loose Change (2005–2006) was organized by the Kunsthaus Glarus and Centre d’Art Contemporain Geneva, Switzerland, and Le Consortium Dijon, France. Webb’s work is included in the collections of the TATE Gallery Collection, United Kingdom; the Arts Council Collection , United Kingdom; the British Council , United Kingdom; the Government Art Collection, United Kingdom; S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium; the Musée départemental d'art contemporain , Rochechouart, France; and the Fonds régional d'art contemporain des Pays de la Loire,  Carquefou, France.

Taken off view July 2013.