AMM Spotlight: David Middlebrook
My work is a sentinel to a lost art of old-world craftsmanship and well-made objects. I don’t want to see those ways of working die ever, it’s what the world is built on. David Middlebrook
My work is a sentinel to a lost art of old-world craftsmanship and well-made objects. I don’t want to see those ways of working die ever, it’s what the world is built on.
During his 49-year career as a professional sculptor, David Middlebrook has become a master of stone, marble, bronze and sustainable materials on every scale and dimension from 50 pounds to 50 tons. His work is owned by over 30 museums and public collections; he has completed 50 public and private commissions; and he has had 100 solo and major group exhibitions globally.
Due to Middlebrook’s international presence, every piece of his work is made to easily disassemble and reassemble upon arriving to its destination. He was featured in the 2013 Venice Biennale and has received multiple awards including the National Endowments for the Arts. Middlebrook is a Professor Emeritus and has lectured in 75 art venues and 15 countries worldwide.
Middlebrook is located in Los Gatos, California.
Liza Jones: What inspires your artwork?
David Middlebrook: A lifetime of observation. I see shapes all the time, I see forms, I see beautiful objects that seem like they have integrity and character in the way that they’re shaped. In terms of my ideas they almost always come from intellectual or philosophical concern I have regarding the issues of my life, regarding the issues of our time. I think that’s why it’s fair to refer to me as a contemporary artist because I deal with the issues and times and thoughts that I think are on a constant basis. Sometimes I tie those to history because they aren’t new and other times, they’re fresh off the press.
I’ve been quite possessed and concerned and actively engaged in issues related to contemporary culture, contemporary reality and the older I get and the more I realize the changes that need to be made to make our society more sustainable, the more interest I have on the subject. I basically feel art whether its music, theatre, drama, film, sculpture, painting, has a basic responsibility to point out to the powers that be the necessary right thinking to make the world a better place. That’s at the core of my objective.
I’m quite fascinated with trying to make a visual statement that represents an intellectual cause, but I would never do it at the expense of beauty. To me first and foremost my work has to be beautiful and it has to be visually engaging. So, what inspires me, everything.
LJ: With your sculptures being mobile, you’re able to increase your audience globally instead of being limited to where you’re located, which is what art should be it should be accessible to everyone.
DM: If you look at a lot of my work there is a lightness, a wispiness, an anti-gravity, a defiance of being anchored. Part of that has made it easier for me to make it disassembly and mobile. It’s not as static or earth-bound. They seem to be alive, that they’re in motion, that they’re constantly in a state of change. To me change is the most important in art making, not to ever do the same piece twice. My last idea is my best idea and it will help me make my next best idea.
LJ: Is there a process to how you decide which materials to use together?
DM: A lot of times I get ideas from my materials.Each material has its own unique aesthetic. Wood is basically a warm material; steel is a cold material. There is a personality in that material that in some degree will dictate a human response. Listening to the material speak to me is an important aspect of how it needs to be portrayed. It’s like a director choosing an actor for a role – they have their own unique qualities and then the role demands a certain kind of interpretation. So, if that material has a quality that I love but it’s not right for the interpretation of that particular piece then it’s not the right material.
LJ: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
DM: Above ground [David laughs out loud]. Los Gatos, this is heaven. I love other places to go visit. I love traveling – New York, Europe, parts of the Far East. I’ve lived in Africa, in Australia, Italy and other places but this is, this is home.
If interested in David Middlebrook artwork please contact: Reiss@ArtsManagementMagazine.com