Naupflion 2, 1972, cast aluminum, 5.5"H

At four separate points in his life as an artist, Cleve Gray has made four different bodies of sculptural work. The first group, created in Oklahoma in 1965, was made of sand cast solid core aluminum. The second group, created in Connecticut and cast at Tallix Foundry in 1971, was made of hollow core bronze cast in the lost wax method. The third group, created in Connecticut and at Tallix in 1972, was cast in hollow core aluminum employing, again, the lost wax method. The fourth body of sculptural work, which stands somewhat alone in its more direct relation to his painting, was made of painted papier mache and wire in 1968.

The following essay by Daniel Robbins, then Director of the Fogg Museum in Boston, was taken from a catalogue entitled Cleve Gray:29 Bronzes for an exhibition at Betty Parsons Gallery in New York City in 1973:



Recent sculpture by Cleve Gray brings new forms into his art. These are unexpected shapes, both in relation to the dominant vocabulary of metal sculpture during the past decade and to the more purely landscape pieces made by this artist around 1964. Their initial effect is of scale: the artistic element of scale separate from actual size and apart from the introduction of illusionistic points of reference. Invention and technique create the possibility of making big from small, soft from hard, fluid from frozen ó and the reverse. The exploring eye, an agent for kinesthetic sensation, places us imaginatively against immense cliffs, along beaches, or in public places where we encounter monuments and fountains. Sometimes the result is heroic; sometimes it produces a fleeting sensation of dizziness. Yet these effects are obtained not by the actual dwarfing of a man, but by obliging the spectator to enter an imaginative and poetic world realized through careful, even traditional, artistic means. (All of these pieces are small; indeed, most are small enough to be carried by hand.)

A second effect common to these bronzes lies in their balance. Almost every one has an assymetry that is peculiarly physical, human, or animal-like. The elements of strict, nearly hard-edge, geometry combined with fluid, organic forms, create tensions which challenge control. Circles, bars, and arcs are balanced daringly, yet, by means of the angles they form, gestures or poses reminiscent of classic art are suggested: the twist of a head sharply to one side and down, as in Brancusi or Duchamp-Villon; or a hand bent at the wrist and pressed toward the forearm, as in Michelangelo. Color, ranging from black to highly polished golds, is used adroitly in conjunction with solids and voids so that the most precarious assymetries (for example, the thrust of a cantilever into space) seem comfortably anchored, secure and self-contained. The artist has worked his surfaces carefully, developing an individual patina for each piece, with color and surface variations married to structure. These are sensitive pieces, but sensible as well, consistent with the artistís development and intelligent in their approach to some of the major problems of tradition: relationships between chance and intention, found objects and created ones, object and image. The energy and struggle in these pieces is internal and resolved by poise.

Daniel Robbins

Assorted bronzes in Cleve Gray's studio in Connecticut, 1971.

The Rasumowsky Defence, 1965, cast aluminum, 13.5"H.


Mistra, 1965, cast aluminum, 14"H.


Acropolis 2, 1965, cast aluminum on stone base, 8"H.

Confrontation, 1965, cast aluminum, 12"H.


No. 3, 1971, cast bronze, 14"H.



No. 11, 1971, cast bronze, 10.5"H.



No. 119, 1971, cast bronze, 16.5"H.

No. 117, 1971, cast bronze, 17"H.

No. 3, 1971, cast bronze, 38"H.


Sculpture II>

Copyright © Cleve Gray 2000. All rights.