About Liquid State:
Jonathan Prince is in the process of developing an extended conversation around geometric forms morphed and softened through the applied will of the artist. This new series of stainless steel sculptures is a manipulation of straight line and flat plane that gives rise to unexpectedly organic objects, despite their distinct origins as cube or sphere. Each has been reduced from its initial, complete form, setting up an ironic tension in the work.
Prince recently commented: “A solitary object may be too limiting to fully investigate or communicate the complete story. I have been designing installations of object groupings that can fill a space and envelope the viewer in a type of environmental theatre -- one that allows the visual stimulus to extend past the solitary object and become more of a visceral experience. The installation allows for the echoing, and rhythm of expression, of an idea to its fullest extent: a visual poem, so to speak, beyond single object.”
In this extensive inquiry into form, and departure from form, he is challenging the ‘will’ of the steel. Fabricated by hand in heavy guage stainless steel, Prince’s objective is to bend the assumed line of cube or sphere to realize a new shape. The molten surfaces, where only the barest vestiges of ‘cube’ or ‘sphere’ remain, creates a new order of light reflections and thus an entirely different relationship between sculpture and environment. Light plays on these surfaces in a way that activates both the space and its surround. The “cube” is no longer dormant, but has the potential for a dynamic dialog with light and space.
The current work, Liquid State, is a natural extrapolation of the Torn Steel inquiry. In lieu of tearing, he is now disrupting the pure form through molding, forming, and contouring. The resulting undulating surfaces are counter-intuitive, given the inherent rigidity of the material – especially given the thickness of steel he employs.
In a recent essay, art critic Dorothy Joiner commented: “One of Plato’s favorite sayings is: God is always doing geometry. Classic forms bear historical and symbolic associations… yet it would seem that Prince has spoiled Plato’s divinely perfect geometric forms. He prefers a marriage of form and accident, or form and intentional morphing of form into something decidedly non-geometric.”
Jonathan Prince has exhibited his sculptures at the Cynthia-Reeves gallery in New York City; and has had a series of important, recent public art installations in New York, including TORN STEEL at the 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden; an installation at the 535 Madison Avenue Sculpture Plaza; an exhibition of G2V at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the United Nations; and, an exhibition of two black granite sculptures on Pier 64 at Hudson River Park. One of these sculptures will travel for a two-year installation in San Diego, California; and an installation of his seminal work, Ellipsis, will be on view at the Whitehead Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, next year.
Jonathan Prince’s Vestigial Block is on permanent view at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing. The monumentally scaled sculpture is one of three currently on display as part of the museum’s Sculpture Garden, surrounding the new Zaha Hadid designed museum.
For more information on the series and the artist’s practice, please call 212 714 0044, or visit the online gallery at: Cynthia-reeves.com.
ART MIAMI December 2-7, 2014 Booth A40.
Jonathan Prince was interviewed by Autre Magazine regarding his creative process, why he's drawn to sculpture, and what kind of experience he'd like viewers of his work to have; see original article here.
The great cubist sculptor Jacques Lipchitz once said, “Copy nature and you infringe on the work of our Lord. Interpret nature and you are an artist.” This sentiment holds true for a lot of sculptors – those artists that borrow stone and bits of earth in the creation of eternal and impermeable monuments to their artistic vision. This sentiment is especially true for sculptor Jonathan Prince, whose father actually once took him to visit the studio of Jacques Lipchitz. Watching Lipchitz work – Prince became transfixed. Today, Prince works with materials like Corten steel, aluminum and bronze to create sculptural works that twist and tear at basic physical properties and our own perception. In the following interview, Prince talks about his recent sculptural series Liquid State and why there is more beauty in imperfection than perfection.
AUTRE: You have been making sculpture in stone and metal (stainless and Corten steel) since you were young, why is sculpture your mode of choice when you also experiment with other mediums?
JONATHAN PRINCE: I’m not sure why but – I have always had an affinity for three dimensional work. Perhaps it’s because a sculptural work inserts itself into the real world – maybe because there are innumerable angles to visualize the piece from. Whatever the reason – it has always made more sense for me to create a line in 3 dimensional space rather than trying to simulate that same gesture in a 2D world.
AUTRE: How do your experiments in design, photography, painting, and installation inform your sculpture for which you are known?
PRINCE: Regardless of the medium – I am always looking for a new way to inform myself and the viewer about alternative ways of seeing the world around us.
If I am using photography – ink and paper or stainless steel – I am always trying to deepen my own investigation of a particular subject matter – to open my eyes and mind in a way that I have not done before. I’m not always successful at accomplishing that task – but I’m always on the hunt for it.
AUTRE: Can you explain the process of evolution regarding your current series Liquid State?
PRINCE: Almost all of my work through the years has looked at the boundaries between internal and external form or what we see on the surface but feel inside. My Liquid State series are the first works that I have done which seem to have no exterior skin – in other words – the forms are made from only internal material in a figurative sense. Liquid State refers to one of four states of matter : liquid – solid – gas and plasma. The works in this series explore the relationship between geometry and fluidity – creating forms that have their roots in geometry but ultimately assume only the barest vestiges of cube, sphere, cone or disc.
AUTRE: Where do you think your interest in the contrasting qualities of perfection and chaos come from?
PRINCE: It is always difficult for me to determine where a motivation comes from – what is important to me is to recognize the interest and look at it from as many vantage points as possible. The thesis that keeps coming back in my thoughts as I go through the process of making work is that – no matter how hard I try to create a perfected object or form – the real beauty of the piece is in the breaks. I believe the same is true in life.
AUTRE: What would you like viewers of your work to experience, whether it be intellectual or visceral?
PRINCE: My hope is that my work will provoke the viewer to have questions about what they are seeing and perhaps why this object – thing or image may be of interest to them. It is my belief that each person will have their own unique questions based on their individual life experience.
Intro text by Oliver Maxwell Kupper. Interview and photographs by Abbey Meaker.
In addition to creating compelling and innovative sculpture in metal and stone, Jonathan Prince also has a vast body of dynamic works on paper whose process is paramount to the final aesthetic of these one-of-a-kind pieces. Prince has offered some insight into his creative process when making the Turbulence series:
The Turbulence series has gone through several iterations prior to finding an effective technique for creating the work.
The initial piece is created on the computer and then printed with archival pigment on an ink jet printer at 70% of the final shading density that I am trying to achieve. Then - the borders of each of the different shading zones are lined with graphite to create a softened boundary between the shaded segments. The last stage is to brush each shade zone with several layers of a Sumi Ink wash to build the color to the desired density.
See more works from Turbulence here.
Jonathan Prince is currently working on a monumental sculpture in stainless steel entitled Vestigial Block for the Liquid State series. In this photo, the stainless steel plate in being formed and fitted. Check back for further updates in the coming weeks.
Jonathan Prince Recasts Ancient Objects by Laura Lofgren of the Berkshire Eagle
LENOX -- Ranging in sizes from small, intimate pieces to the monumental, SculptureNow’s featured artist Jonathan Prince’s works invite an interaction between the viewer and the art.
Executive Director Ann Jon asked Prince to add a piece to the Lenox exhibition, "SculptureNow in Lenox 2012," in the 15th year that SculptureNow has presented public art and Prince eagerly agreed to the request. "For years now, I have admired the hard work that Ann has done to organize these shows, so I happily said yes to her request," Prince said in an email interview. In the SculptureNow 2012 show, Prince has one piece called "Totem II." It comes from a four-piece series called "Torn Steel," which he displayed in a solo show in New York City recently. It stands in front of the Lenox Library on Main Street and will appear until Oct. 27. The monumental sizes of Prince’s works require plenty of big machinery at his studio -- a 15-ton crane, a 10,000 pound forklift, a 110-ton hydraulic press, power hammers, band saws -- to name just a few. Prince employs a staff of two to five people, depending on his exhibition schedule. "What I find most important is to have the correct equipment for the job," he said. "From a process point of view, a piece of machinery that has a certain capacity to accomplish something opens up my universe for design." Born in New York City and living in Los Angeles for most of his adult life.
Prince moved to the Berkshires with his wife, Bridget, and found a home and studio in New Marlborough. Prince at tended several undergraduate colleges and eventually earned a DDS degree from the Columbia School of Dental Medicine and went on to post-doctoral training at the University of Southern California. "After all my dental training, I ended up practicing for only three years," he said. "Pretty much everything else I have done has been involved in creative work."
Prince then moved into the film industry, working in special effects and computer animation. His last endeavor before starting a full-time career in the arts world was founding a venture-backed Internet media company in New York, where he became the CEO of more than 100 employees.
"I honestly feel that it is my varied background that has shaped my sculpture career," he said.
Prince has been working as a sculptor for less than a decade. He started his journey working primarily in stone -- mostly black granite from Zimbabwe and South Africa. He began working in steel about two-and-a-half years ago. "The techniques between stone carving and metal fabrication are at the opposite ends of the sculpting spectrum," Prince said, "yet I have managed to incorporate several of the stone- carving techniques that I was familiar with into my studio
practice in steel. I believe that this is a significant reason my steel work looks very different than most steel sculptures that are out there in the world." Prince’s "science projects," as he often refers to them, welcomes viewers to interact with each piece at different angles. Noted for his larger-scale work, he said he attepmts "to have a sculpture reveal something that can only be seen from a particular vantage point." In smaller objects, he said, he aims for a "preciousness" or "jewel-like quality." As for a source of inspiration, Prince says it’s really difficult to pin down one thing. "But what I can tell you," he said, "is that for some reason it gives me great joy to build these objects." In saying that, Prince points to a number of themes he looks to carry through in his work. One idea is the premise that "the more basic an object -- so-called primitive geometries -- the more that past and future seem to converge." "For example, it often looks like my sculptures could be an artifact from an ancient civilization or just as easily been left on Earth by aliens," Prince said.
The idea of atrophy stands out in Prince’s "Totem II." Steel is difficult to work with, and Prince holds a central theme that "things" people often hold in high esteem are destined to fail them. For example, Prince’s new work of an 8-foot disc shape, looking as if it were fractured over centuries, even eons, has the obscure name of "G2V." "[G2V] turns out to be the astronomical nomenclature for our sun," he said. "My premise is that most ancient civilizations have worshiped the sun in one form or another and referred to it by many different names. As an astronomical object, G2V is central to our planet and our existence. As a deity or idol, it has failed all those who have worshipped it."
Glimmering Gored Sculptures: The Torn Steel Installation Centers on Organic Imperfections / article by Meghan Young / read full article here.
There is a beauty to imperfection as the Torn Steel art installation shows. Although not all imperfections are as glimmering as the tears and dents that each sculpture suffers from. Granted, because of how beautiful these scars really are, perhaps the sculptures do not actually suffer from them all, but is made the better for them. The Torn Steel art installation can surely teach many of us to love our own faults. Created by artist Jonathan Prince, the Torn Steel art installation emphasizes elegance, precision and the material’s qualities. Known for exploring the expansive expressions lying with in such materials as steel, his Torn Steel sculptures are sinuous and organic despite being fashioned out of heavy and hard metal. He works in the modernist vein of such artists as Constantin Brancusi and Jean Arp.
Jonathan Prince at Sculpture Garden in New York City by Edward Rubin of Artes Magazine
The work of Massachusetts-based artist, Jonathan Prince, is currently on view until November 18th, at the Sculpture Garden in the atrium of the old IBM building, in New York City. Shown under the title Torn Steel, the work like the artist, himself, who resembles Julian Schnabel—is big, bold and undeniably ambitious. But underneath the swagger of the man and his work— observations based on an in-depth studio visit, a couple of wide-ranging conversations of the inquiring kind and, of course, the four, eye- to-mind grabbing sculptures on view—lives a sensitive soul, albeit on top of a simmering volcano. His innards seem to house an acute and restless intellect that appears to know no bounds. Though relatively new, as a full-time practitioner to the art world, that is, Prince has only been sculpting 24/7 for the past eight years, a somewhat unbelievable fact given the sure-footedness of his work. As a young boy he was drafted into the world of art through a series of visits with his father to the studio of artist, Jacques Lipchitz. It was here that he was first exposed to contemporary art, to Lipchitz’s extensive collection of pre-Columbian sculpture, and where he experienced, first hand— with a few demonstrations by the master himself—what it meant to be an artist.
As a teenager, still smitten with the lessons of Lipchitz, Prince turned both hands to sculpting in stone and clay, as well as plaster. As fate would have it—like a good son who would follow in his father’s footsteps—his career trajectory led him to the art of dentistry and maxillofacial surgery. After three years in this highly precise eye-to-hand occupation, Prince turned to directing and producing films and computer animated special-effects projects. After successfully pursuing the art and science of filmmaking for a number of decades, he returned (an argument could be made that he never left) to his first love, sculpting. In Torn Steel, his newest series, Prince, known primarily for his work in black granite, stone, and marble, each harboring traces of Noguchi, Brancusi and Arp, uses steel, oxidized and stainless steel to implement his vision. “Steel is less tight than stone. It gives me the opportunity to cut something or to weld it back,” he told one interviewer. “What I’m hoping to create is the intersection between chaos theory and refined geometry.” True to his word, the artist’s four geometrically-shaped works in Torn Steel, set down among the Sculpture Center
atrium’s elegant stand of bamboo trees—the cellular softness of nature embracing
our industrial civilization—does just that.
At first glance, Prince’s monumental sculptures appear to be nothing more than simple geometric forms: a square with a broken edge: a column with its top gouged; a couple of circular sculptural riffs, one resembling a large distressed pill set on edge, the other a partially eaten donut doing a clever balancing act. On closer examination, the lively quartette begins to take on an otherworldly, if not quasireligious, cast. Refraining from the impulse to begin praying, we ask ourselves: are these objects relics of worship from a lost civilization; artifacts left behind by a race that has died off; a Hollywood studio prop leftover from a long-forgotten Roman epic; or are they really post-modern sculptures waiting to be transported to some city plaza?
Each sculpture, though massive in appearance is, in actuality, deceptively hollow. The naturally-oxidized appearance that weathered steel effortlessly acquires is, in the case of Prince’s work, a labor-intensive process that is anything but random. It all begins with Prince sketching out a concept. After refining it on computer, he creates a urethane foam model, along with a series of engineering drawings, enabling him to order the necessary materials for fabrication. Once the full geometrically shaped work is constructed, the artist marks the sections to be
“torn” out of the sculpture with a powerful plasma torch. Then the stainless steel plates are shaped, welded into the form, the patterns are overlaid onto the plates with a MIG welder in stainless steel, and all areas smoothed and blended with a TIG welder. Finally, the stainless steel areas are smoothed and polished with various abrasives.
The most satisfying and easily digestible of the four sculptures on view—also the most challenging in its simplicity—is Vestigial Block, Prince’s six-foot square cube. It is here at the steel cubiform, unfettered and uncomplicated by the edgy and visually jagged cuts and molten steel plating found at the top of Totem and at either end of Torus—making them a bit too fussy for my taste—that Prince’s technique of exposing the seemingly soft molten innards buried within the sculpture’s hard outer shell is at its most natural and pleasantly poignant. It is also at this stop, while basking gently in the light of this daringly modest sculpture, that our mind is gently seduced into conjuring up images of the earth’s fiery center, overflowing lava, and thoughts of the human body housing an active soul.
Champagne in hand, sculptor Jonathan Prince guides an intimate tour through his tranquil home gallery space, elucidating the evolution of his work over the past eight years. Working in mediums of wood,stone and metal,Prince'sdynamic geometric sculptures draw inspiration from his background in science, natural history, and optics. Each piece - large or small - begs the viewer to step closer and interact.
At his Berkshire-based studio, Prince and his assistants prepare for his upooming installation, "Torn Steel," at the 590 Madison Avenue Atrium on September 15, 2011. These large-scale sculptures examine the boundaries of metaland the juxtapositionof surfaces.By creating breaks in the distressed facade of geometric pieces,which are then plated in a silver leaf patina,Prince develops a oounterpoint between our pre-existing understanding of the shape and his unexpected alterations. The rusted surfaces rupture to reveal a tumultuous, gleaming interior, creating the sensation of an ongoing evolution.
Prince began his career as a sculptorjust eight years ago, although he has been experimenting since his high school days when he worked at a New York City foundry. While his early work oonsisted primarily of stone, particularly black granite, his upooming installation is almost exclusively in metal. Steel,Prince explains,provides greater flexibility to experiment withvolume.
Sponsored by Cynthia-Reeves, "Torn Steel" is part of the gallery's ongoing initiative to curate off-site exhibitions.This installation will be open to the public from September 15 through October 18, 20011, from 8 am to 1O pm,at 590 Madison Avenue at 57th Street.
Sculptors to Watch by Christine Temin of Art New England
Berkshire artist Jonathan Prince is the most traditional of my picks because his medium is
stone, occasionally coupled with metallic leaf. Prince recalls that as a young child, his father
took him to the studio of a friend who was also one of the most renowned sculptors of the
twentieth century—Jacques Lipchitz. At the time, Lipchitz was working on a clay piece
destined to become one of his signature bronzes. Prince recalls it as the ultimate showand-
tell lesson. “Rock grounds me,” he says. Black granite from Africa, China, or India is his favorite
because of the way it absorbs light. It’s a gravitational pull for him, and granite’s virtual
immortality appeals to him. It endures long after both artist and audience have passed on.
On the other hand, Prince’s gift for granite makes it seem like a living, breathing entity. Working with large blocks of stone requires patience and perseverance, as demonstrated in, say, his Five Piece Sphere (2009). Made of Indian black granite, it is sliced like a rounded loaf of bread, which gives the weighty stone light appearance. Its rhythmic repetitions are almost musical.
Prince uses history. Fractured Celt (2008) is made of African granite and oxidized
steel, reminding me of one of Britain’s mysterious standing stones, the most famous
being Stonehenge. While he occasionally accepts commissions, he primarily follows his own artistic voice and has a studio full of work that he’s happy to show to visitors who make an
appointment. Read the full article here.