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Jacques Schnier (American (born Romania), 1898 - 1988)

Pierced Relief (abstract form), 1961

Pierced Relief (abstract form), 1961

Brass 22 5/8 in. x 28 1/2 in. x 2 1/4 in. (57.47 cm x 72.39 cm x 5.72 cm)

Crocker Art Museum, gift of Mrs. Jesse W. Lilienthal


  • The majority of Jacques Schnier’s sculptural production features Modernist works built up out of cubic forms. Using cubes and rectangular prisms, he assembled eccentric, asymmetrical groupings punctuated by open volumes of empty space. Predictably, there is an architectonic quality to such structures based on regular forms, and indeed, Schnier was trained as an architect in addition to being a fine artist and a psychologist. Through these non-figurative, non-objective modes, he sought the underlying structure, order, and meaning within the chaos and flux of nature. He explained, “What differentiates creative work from mere expression of emotions is this form quality, this organic unity, this harmony like that of a living organism whose parts are in vital and structural relationship to the whole.”1 Pierced Relief was cast just as the artist began his cubic constructions. He carved the first, The City, in alabaster in 1958. As with The City, the openwork structure of Pierced Relief stands on two legs mounted to a wooden base. Schnier modeled maquettes for his bronzes in clay and experimented with casting methods. This appears to be such an experimental piece, but unlike his angular cubic constructions, truly organic in its feel. His ideas of unity are definitely conveyed in the interlocking and overlapping of forms.

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