Robert Brady (American, born 1946)
Crocker Art Museum Purchase with gifted funds in memory of Larry Arliss Pollock from his family and friends and in memory of Joyce Pollock from the Crocker Art Museum Association
It was by chance that Robert Brady, the nationally recognized ceramic sculptor, realized a passion for wood. In the late 1980s, his wife, ceramist Sandy Simon, asked her husband to build a cabinet with a figure included in its design. Following this exercise, Brady began to embrace sculpting in wood, going so far as to declare he was no longer working in clay. Instead, in 1989 he began to concentrate on making nearly life-size wooden figures.1 Brady elongated his wooden forms, created torque by severing the flat plank constructions into upper and lower halves, and alluded to heads with the slightest rounding of wood set deeply into the figure’s shoulders. Brady aimed to abstract the specific to represent the universal and in doing so honored representations from the pre-modern past, long a theme of his work. Aleut references a North American hunter of the Aleutian Islands and far western Alaskan peninsula. The rich purple suggests the region’s cold water depths and also abstracts the concept of the decorated costumes worn by hunters in respect for the animals they tracked. Balanced against the figure is the abbreviated form of the Aleutian kayak.
1. Signe Mayfield, Robert Brady Sculpture 1989–2005 (Palo Alto, CA: Palo Alto Art Center, 2006).