Since the mid 1960s veteran Bay Area artist Bruce Beasley has remained at the forefront of modern sculpture. Beasley’s large-scale geometric pieces articulate a powerful visual language that has won the artist critical acclaim and sustained a career that has spanned over four decades. Spark visits Beasley at his West Oakland studio to catch a glimpse of this sculptor at work.
Beasley’s work enjoyed critical success from a very early point. In 1962, when the artist was only 22 years old, the Museum of Modern Art in New York acquired one of his sculptures, making him the youngest artist ever to have his or her work in the museum’s collection. But despite this early success, Beasley has continued to challenge himself, experimenting with new materials and forms.
While his early pieces were executed in cast aluminum, in the late 1960s, Beasley began experimenting with molded transparent acrylic. Since he was working with a relatively new material, largely unexplored by artists, Beasley began research on the substance, eventually discovering new techniques for working with the medium. He developed a casting technique that was eventually adopted by NASA in the development of the first acrylic undersea submersible.
With each new material, Beasley strives to find forms appropriate to his new medium. As he began working with cast bronze, the fluid organic forms characteristic of the acrylic pieces gave way to intersecting geometric volumes. Beasley now designs his sculptures on a computer, planning, rotating and moving sculptural elements until he finds the right composition. Beasley’s computer model is then reduced to a pattern with which to make accurate cuts into sheet metal.
Throughout his career, Beasley has been guided by organic forms readily found in nature. His extensive collection of animal skulls has been an unending source of inspiration and instruction, outlining elegant forms, transitions, and textures. The bones provide a basis for all his sculpture, suggesting a set of solutions to formal problems.
Born in Los Angles. Bruce Beasley attended Dartmouth College before completing his B.A. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1962. His work can be found in museums and public collections internationally, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Djerassi Foundation, and in the collection of Kleinewefers GmbH, Krefeld, Germany. His sculpture garden is open by special appointment and available for tours by arts and cultural groups. He plans to turn this complex into a West Oakland outpost of the Oakland Museum of California after his death. This will be a home for his work as well as a resource and workspace for the sculpture community.
Meet a range of artists who call West Oakland their home.