Seymour Lipton, a self-taught artist, found inspiration in nature, machinery, and the human figure. Reflecting on the sociological concerns of his time, he wanted to express the emotional, psychological, and spiritual tensions of balancing conflict: “Sculpture is used by me to express the life of man as a struggling interaction between himself and his environment.” Lipton developed a style predicated on tension between curved and straight elements, internal hollows and external shells—an aesthetic that is the direct result of his choice of medium.
Like Pioneer, this sculpture presents another of Lipton’s totemic figures; however, Guardian conveys a more ominous tone. The “body” consists of a solid rectangle below an opening with a massive hollowed spherical form that suggests a head with a gaping maw. Although the eyeless head appears to be roaring a warning or about to attack, the title Guardian asserts a positive meaning of protection.
Throughout his career, Lipton created a series of monumental, heroic sculptures as expressions of the basic idea of human existence, of the view that life is precious but fragile, and of the belief that strength is necessary in order to protect it. The more intimidating the appearance, the more effective Lipton’s pieces are at conveying a sense of protection for the weak against harm, the good against evil. Of his sculptures, the artist said, “Man is still an animal. This was shown to us in the past, but the war showed it up more definitely, more clearly. I used all the means at my disposal…to find images of horror. Subsequently, however, I came to feel that Hell below wasn’t the whole story, that man had hope.”
Location: Health Learning Building, First Floor
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