John Buck : New Sculpture


John Buck : New Sculpture
May 4 – Jun 19, 2004

In his 4th solo exhibition at the Robischon Gallery, prominent American sculptor John Buck continues to explore his chosen medium of carved wood. The artist states, "I think there is something about working with wood—the natural material; the surface of the wood has a quality unlike a manufactured surface. In the carving of wood there is a physical activity that is more about nature in the making—not just the concept of the image, but the actual making is connected to nature."

Using a wood called Jelutong, John Buck makes work that is tactile and pictorial, abstract as well as figurative. All of his works combine sign and symbol, both universal and personal, including repeated use of elemental icons: the world globe, a leaf, and an open book, to name a few. Combinations of symbols offer the viewer a vocabulary that is not meant to be specific, despite the fact that it is highly representational. Rather, Buck's visual symbols operate as a kind of dream or a form of music. Linda Tesner, Director of the Lewis and Clark Gallery of Contemporary Art writes, "The relationships between one object and another may seem, at first, like a non sequitor but often one element leads to another visually and, on another level, emotionally...These relationships seem to relate to the human experience, as the visual symbols are typically viewed within a human context. Whether Buck's ethereal still life is held in place by...[a naturalized] figure or the assemblage exists within the shadowbox like frame of a panel, the human element is nearly always present. It is as if Buck must remind the viewer that his metaphoric visions can only exist within the human experience."

John Buck is both sculptor and printmaker and masterful in each realm. Whether carving, painting, drawing or burnishing ink into his wood surfaces, the artist's work evokes a key purpose in art that is as a storehouse for human knowledge—and in Buck's case, an investigation of the relationship between memory and time's passage.


John Buck was born in Ames, Iowa: received his BFA from the Kansas City Institute and School of Design and went on to study at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine. The artist received his MFA in 1972 from the University of California, Davis. He divides his time between a ranch in Bozeman, MT and studios in Hawaii.

In 2003, Buck was awarded a commission at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He was the recipient of the National Artists Award in 1984 and was awarded an Individual Artist Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980. Shown extensively across the country, Buck's work can be found in several major collections, including the The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Denver Art Museum; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Seattle Art Museum; The Brooklyn Museum; Contemporary Arts Center, Honolulu; and the Art Institute of Chicago.