Deborah Butterfield

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Overview

Deborah Butterfield transforms pieces of scrap metal and found wood into majestic, life-size horse sculptures that are, as art historian Wayne L. Roosa has written, "like ancient, noble archaeological remains, skeletal and grand." Her sculptures also may be the first works to explore the interior lives of horses - a long overdue answer to centuries of martial and monumental equine art.

This volume presents a retrospective look at this important American artist. At the core of ...

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Overview

Deborah Butterfield transforms pieces of scrap metal and found wood into majestic, life-size horse sculptures that are, as art historian Wayne L. Roosa has written, "like ancient, noble archaeological remains, skeletal and grand." Her sculptures also may be the first works to explore the interior lives of horses - a long overdue answer to centuries of martial and monumental equine art.

This volume presents a retrospective look at this important American artist. At the core of the book are color photographs of the sculptures, installed in galleries, in the artist's studios, and at Walla Walla Foundry. An insightful essay by novelist and horsewoman Jane Smiley sensitively captures the depth of Butterfield's passion for horses both living and sculpted. John Yau, poet and art critic, adds a formal analysis of the artist's work. In a selection of poems, the late poet Vicki Hearne, a close friend of Butterfield's, translates this world of horse-human dialogue. Robert Gordon has followed the artist's career for a quarter century and brings unique insight and vision to her body of work.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With extraordinary focus over 25 years, Butterfield has created sculptures with a single subject: horses. And with an introduction by Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres), an essay by poet and art critic John Yau, poems by the late Vicki Hearne and pages of beautifully reproduced work, Butterfield comes off as a thoroughbred in the world of art. As Smiley says, "I have never met a horse lover who did not gasp at the truth of Butterfield's horses," and this catalogue, timed to coincide with a traveling exhibition of Butterfield's work, is sure to delight anyone with a passion for horses and art. Whether her works are found in steel or iron, wood, barbed wire or cast bronze, her ability to animate a pile of seemingly lifeless materials with the shape and spirit of a horse can be truly breathtaking. Particularly intriguing are the pieces made with giant metal letters-the shape of the letters transforming magically into shoulders, hocks and arched neck. Even nonbelievers will be impressed with Butterfield's technical mastery over her mediums, particularly her intricate variation on the "lost wax" method of casting bronze. Strangely, one 1979 piece cited often in the text, in which Butterfield cleverly integrated the barbed wire found on her Montana ranch, is not pictured here, but anyone with an interest in the possibilities of material, or in what constitutes form, will be pleased by this selection. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This much-needed book coincides with a three-year national tour of 16 of Butterfield's sculptures of horses, most from her private collection. Butterfield's work, which is too often absent from national and international reference works, is deeply admired by collectors but is also accessible to the general U.S. public via bronzes found in public spaces and museums. This book shows the development of her semiabstract, often larger-than-life images. Early works, too fragile to move, were constructed with metal armature, chicken wire, mud, and large sticks. Over the years, Butterfield proceeded from additive welded processes to manipulating crushed and found metal and now to highly sophisticated cast and burnished pieces involving a foundry. This volume has 75 excellent, artful color plates (and 25 b&w illustrations). Unfortunately, it lacks a bibliography, and the text is merely adequate. Written by art consultant and photographer Gordon, with poems by Vicki Hearne, an introduction by Jane Smiley, and an essay by John Yau, this material lacks the depth of Mary Stofflet's out-of-print Deborah Butterfield, which detailed the personal nature of these masterworks but lacked high-quality reproductions. Nevertheless, the fine color plates and the lack of materials available on Butterfield, this new volume is highly recommended.-Mary Hamel-Schwulst, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib., Long Beach Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810946293
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/2003
  • Pages: 180
  • Product dimensions: 11.00 (w) x 11.75 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Gordon is an art consultant, photographer, filmmaker, and a widely published author who has written several books for Abrams including The Last Flowers of Manet and Degas. Jane Smiley is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Thousand Acres and other works of fiction.

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