Freitag, 5. Februar 2010

Herb Alpert's Black Totems

Herb Alpert - known as a trumpeter and A&M records co-founder and as one of the most generous stars (according to the BBC his foundation spent $13m on education, including the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music) - has currently an art exhibit at ACE Gallery in Beverly Hills. There was a reception for the artist Thursday evening February 4, 2010 at 7:30-9:pm, where Alpert himself and curator Douglas Chrismas were present, as well as prominent people from the entertainment industry, including actor Michael York (Cabaret & Three Musketeers). The event was filmed by the BBC and Alpert's own press team.

The art show contains 3 small and 13 large black totems, as well as 10 small white terracotta totems. The smaller totems range in height from 8" to 36" the taller ones from 12 to 18 ft. They are made out of wet clay, which Alpert shaped with his own hands and then molded into vertical forms. The larger ones he then casted in bronze. Those are arranged in a forest-like environment and gain intensity by being presented as a group.

Although Alpert's work looks rather abstract, one can recognize forms that look familiar. For instance, on one of the totems there is an eagle form seemly emerging from the top, on others they appear to have human body parts, such as noses, delicate bones or the inside of an ear.

Alpert's work was inspired primarily by the totem poles of the Pacific Northwest such as the ones of the Haida, Tlingit and Kwakiutl tribes. He felt intrigued by the enormous history they contain, sometimes serving as symbols that watch over a family, clan or tribe, at other times functioning as crests of families or chiefs honoring major events or occasions, or acting as guides, which accompany one through life, both in the physical and spiritual worlds.
However, one can also see his influence by Alberto Giacometti's extended figures and Louise's Bourgeois' slender wooden sculptures, which she made during/after a trip to Africa in the late 1940's.