Purdue University North Central is the new home to hundreds of pieces of art created by noted 20 th century artist, George Sugarman. Earlier this year, The George Sugarman Foundation made the generous contribution of the definitive collection.
Sugarman, born in 1912 in the Bronx, New York City , was a prolific, controversial, and forward-thinking American artist. The PNC collection includes sculpture, paintings, photos, books and a video of pieces of Sugarman’s original art. Selected works will debut at PNC as part of the 2008-09 Odyssey Arts and Cultural Events Series opening on Saturday, Oct. 11. All Sugarman exhibits are free and open to the public.
Selected paintings and the sculpture Earth Bird may be viewed in the PNC Library-Student-Faculty Building Assembly Hall, Room 02, through the end of 2008. To see this exhibit, call 219-785-5593 or 219-785-5719.
Two additional sculptures, a variety of framed paintings and a tribute wall will be featured in the PNC Library Odyssey Gallery on the second floor of the LSF Building. The tribute wall includes 35 framed works, a montage of photographs depicting the artist and his biography.
The gallery is open Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Another sculpture, Two Blues and a Red, is on display on the first floor of Schwarz Hall, adjacent to the Chancellor’s Office, Room 137.
This collection contains more than 50 years of Sugarman’s work. “Purdue University North Central is indebted to the George Sugarman Foundation; to Sugarman’s niece and foundation director Arden Sugarman; and to artist Peter Capurso, his long-time assistant, for the gift of this definitive collection,” said Judy Jacobi, PNC assistant vice chancellor of Marketing and Community Relations. “It resides at PNC for the educational benefit and enjoyment of all.”
Sugarman’s works are among the collections in museums such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, in New York City ; the Art Institute, Chicago and the Fogg Museum at Harvard University .
His work reflects an intense interest in colors. The sculptures embrace a “polychrome profusion” of shape and space as defined by color. The abstract yet organic forms that characterized his style with their eccentricity and expansiveness reflected what he called the “existential disorder of life.” In the midst of a surge of interest in the stark minimalism of sculptural work in the 1960s, Sugarman persisted in his complex, multi-colored geometric and biomorphic style.
A 1934 graduate of the City College of New York, Sugarman served in the Navy from 1941 to 1945, assigned to the Pacific theater. He resumed his education in Paris , studying with cubist sculptor Ossip Zadkine. He returned to New York in 1955 at age 39 to begin his career as an artist.
His early sculptures were carved wood. He later used constructions. Influenced by such artists as Picasso, Matisse, Michelangelo, Archipenko and Baroque architecture.
In 1961, Sugarman was recognized by the international art community when he was awarded second prize for sculptural creativity in the Carnegie International Exhibition of Contemporary Painting and Sculpture. Alberto Giacometti and David Smith, giants of contemporary sculpture, won first and third prizes, respectively.
During the latter 30 years of his life, Sugarman created numerous large sculptures, most of which were commissioned for spaces in the United States , Europe, Australia and Asia . He was an early proponent of “public art”, encouraging the marriage of sculptural form with its outdoor or natural environment, as opposed to placing sculpture isolated indoors, in museums or galleries. He preferred his works to be placed upon the ground, without the formality of pedestals.
Sugarman was a visiting lecturer at Yale, among other colleges and visited many of them, including Purdue University in West Lafayette in 1975. When he died in 1999 at age 87, his family established the George Sugarman Foundation which helps support the work of emerging artists.
To obtain further information about the Sugarman collection or to arrange a tour, contact Judy Jacobi, PNC assistant vice chancellor of Marketing and Community Relations, at 219-785-5200 ext. 5593. Persons with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact Jacobi.