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Barcelonea 10-11-2011 11:27 PM

Sculpture Mystery
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I recently purchased the bronze and limestone sculpture shown in the attached photos. I really like it, but despite a lot of searching on the internet I haven’t been able to find any information about it or the artist.

It is kind of a mystery and I have only a few clues. A few weeks ago on a whim I decided to walk through our large local Antique Mall. I didn’t find anything of much interest on any of the three floors, but as I was retracing my steps back to the front door I spotted something on the floor peeking out behind a small chest.

At first I thought it was some kind of little campfire cooking set. Then I saw that it was made of bronze and realized it was a sculpture. The price tag on it said “Museum Piece”. I asked the manager if he knew the artist. He laughed and said, “I thought that was for melting lead to make fishing sinkers”.

We took it to the front counter and using a magnifying glass we could make out the name “Phil Johnson 86” etched in tiny script on the bottom of the crucible. I decided to buy it and made an offer. The manager called the person whose booth the piece was in to give my offer, but got an answering machine with an outgoing message in French.

Later that day the manager called and said the seller had accepted my offer. The seller, whose name I never got, told the manager that he was selling it for a friend who, “collected up and coming artists and that it came from a contemporary art museum in Chicago”. That’s all I know.

So, I hope some of the knowledgeable members of this site can recognize the name or the style of the artist and can fill me in. Even if you can’t, I would be interested in your comments about or your interpretation of the piece.

Sorry this post is so long.

cheesepaws 10-12-2011 11:56 AM

Re: Sculpture Mystery
I'm no expert but I am thinking the sculpture is by Phil (perhaps even Phillip) Johnson. Probably form 1986. :D

Seriously, there can't be a shortage of Phil Johnsons out there. Most art is not made by famous artists. Nice find. Enjoy it for what it is regardless of who made it.

Oh, looking at it I wouldn't be surprised if the sculptor was primarily a ceramicist. Lovely piece.

Barcelonea 10-15-2011 11:45 AM

Re: Sculpture Mystery
Thanks cheesepaws. I see what you mean that the artist may be a ceramicist. I am very happy with the piece, but I do think I'll keep trying to find out more about it just because it is fun to investigate.

Andrew Werby 10-15-2011 03:40 PM

Re: Sculpture Mystery
Philip Johnson was a famous American architect, one of the foremost exponents of the International Style, responsible for many iconic structures. He died recently, but was active well into his nineties. He was also a sculptor, and worked in bronze, among other materials. While there probably are other Phil Johnsons that could have made this piece, if I owned it and wanted to find out more about it, I'd research the architect's art and see if there was any stylistic similarity. There's doubtless a gallery or two that handles his art; you might try getting in touch with them.

Andrew Werby

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