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Published April 24, 2020

Stuart Brisley (British), Untitled  (1962). Wood. FSU MoFA 65.28.

Untitled is the work of British artist Stuart Brisley, a former student of Florida State University. The object is composed of “found objects,” which Brisley stated had been an interest of his for many years, even before arriving at FSU. During his time as a student, he employed methods that some may consider unorthodox as a means of finding materials to create with. “I would look under houses, many of which were built on brick columns up to a foot or so in height, and were the source of many elements I was stimulated to use.” In this particular piece, Brisley made use of found wood materials and assembled them to create a work of art.

The texture of this piece is easily identifiable. It is constructed of wood, a material commonly found in day to day life, and the texture is nearly universally known. The viewer can imagine what running their hands over the piece might feel like without needing to interact with it physically. For some this imagining may bring to mind fond memories of woodworking with a parent or teacher, while for others it may induce less pleasant memories of splinters or other injuries caused by a wooden object. The texture can be experienced from afar, and inspire personal reflection as experiences with the same material flood the mind.

In contrast to texture, the form of this piece is not quite so easy to discern. It does not resemble a recognizable object, does not make itself into something easy to digest. Rather, the form of this piece was inspired by the different components from which it is built. Brisley stated that “I was particularly interested in the idea of chance in relation to what could be found, which would then influence how I might proceed to make works.” The form was inspired by the relationships of the materials that he found, in this piece as in many of his others.

Brisley also outlined the significance that his time at FSU has had on his art education as a whole. In coming to FSU, he had mainly been working only on flat surfaces, but had begun to venture into reliefs. He said that the piece we have chosen to display is likely the second free standing assemblage that he made. These pieces were “the result of the leap I made into three dimensions. By leap I suggest that the two works were a significant move into sculptural assemblage.” This leap, he explains, was a part of the trajectory which eventually led him to create live action and performance art later on in his career.

Exhibition Notes:

Selected as the object for the promotional poster, Untitled represents a visually stimulating and dynamic work of contemporary art. Its unique form presented a stark contrast to other pieces, thereby dictating its placement within the exhibition. Upon entering the WJB gallery, Untitled was intended to occupy the corner space between Rosenthal Bag and Folding Triangles, at the far-right side of the exhibition. Organic in both form and texture, this piece does not take on a recognizable shape. To emphasize these contrasts, it was placed with consideration to the smooth and identifiable forms represented in both Rosenthal Bag and Folding Triangles. Places Remembered was placed across from Untitled, in an effort to contrast the bright red color with the monochromatic nature of the surrounding works.