OOSI Sculpture

Start

1981 / David E. Davis / Cleveland

Start2017a.jpg

Start seems to unfold through time and space over a well traveled walkway. Davis' clever use of color and composition have the eye start at the pop of red on the base. The viewer's eye then moves across the elements from most saturated to least saturated, widest to narrowest, and warmest to coolest.

Start begs to be unfolded and righted. It's conspicuous presence on a well-traveled thoroughfare invites viewers to project their own ideas of the forms coming together and organizing themselves according to their color and size.

The precise measurements of elements in Davis' work often reveals the system of harmonious relationships he developed during his prolific career. He founded a system he dubbed the "Harmonic Grid" that starts with a 3::1 rectangle that serves as a drafting board for complex intersections and constructions of rectangles, triangles and circles. He then folds, welds, and perforates along these lines, playing with negative space and thickness, to create complicated but aesthetically harmonious pieces. Start is not a Harmonic Grid piece in construction, but the systemic influences from Davis' other work certainly help illuminate an otherwise cryptic piece of sculpture.

Davis' style is often characterized by absolute freedom within an absolute system, much like music and mathematics. Edward Henning, head curator of Modern Art at the CMA during Davis' career, wrote an essay on Davis that likened his systemic, structured approach to the creation of visual arts to that of music. Music is composed within a system that defines the proportional relationships between notes that a given piece consists of, based off of only three major structural components: rhythm, melody, and harmony. Similarly, Davis' work is composed on a system that defines the proportional relationships among the visual elements that a given piece consists of, based on three major structural components: the rectangle, triangle, and circle. Henning notes that Davis' work within the Harmonic Grid tends to behave like a language; it is "based on a rationally conceived system which yet allows for an almost infinite variety of forms."

In interviews, Davis seems to be an advocate of understanding the "visual syntax" of his scultpure before making critical evaluations, citing once a quotation from Pablo Picasso: "I cannot speak a word of Chinese, but I would be a fool to deny the existence of the Chinese language." It wouldn't make sense to critically analyze Anna Karenina in Russian, applying only your understanding of the English syntax and alphabet.

Start is one of the few harmonic grid pieces that actually bears a name. Davis chose the name start because "Start" denotes time: an abstract concept. He felt an abstract concept was the only way to properly represent his abstract art.

The original location of start was at the corner of Ford and Bellflower, but in the 90's it was moved to its current location, where it retains the same symbolic meanings: at the start of the walk to class, near the freshman dorms, etc. In a postscript, after a letter to Harvey Buchannan, the curator of the Putnam Collection at the time of Start's installation, Davis also notes that the impetus for Start's construction is the letter "A".

Location: corner of Juniper and Magnolia in University Circle

County

: Cuyahoga

Citation

: David E. Davis, “Start,” Ohio Outdoor Sculpture Inventory, accessed November 19, 2017, http://oosi.sculpturecenter.org/items/show/86.

Dublin Core

Title

Start

Description

Start seems to unfold through time and space over a well traveled walkway. Davis' clever use of color and composition have the eye start at the pop of red on the base. The viewer's eye then moves across the elements from most saturated to least saturated, widest to narrowest, and warmest to coolest.

Start begs to be unfolded and righted. It's conspicuous presence on a well-traveled thoroughfare invites viewers to project their own ideas of the forms coming together and organizing themselves according to their color and size.

The precise measurements of elements in Davis' work often reveals the system of harmonious relationships he developed during his prolific career. He founded a system he dubbed the "Harmonic Grid" that starts with a 3::1 rectangle that serves as a drafting board for complex intersections and constructions of rectangles, triangles and circles. He then folds, welds, and perforates along these lines, playing with negative space and thickness, to create complicated but aesthetically harmonious pieces. Start is not a Harmonic Grid piece in construction, but the systemic influences from Davis' other work certainly help illuminate an otherwise cryptic piece of sculpture.

Davis' style is often characterized by absolute freedom within an absolute system, much like music and mathematics. Edward Henning, head curator of Modern Art at the CMA during Davis' career, wrote an essay on Davis that likened his systemic, structured approach to the creation of visual arts to that of music. Music is composed within a system that defines the proportional relationships between notes that a given piece consists of, based off of only three major structural components: rhythm, melody, and harmony. Similarly, Davis' work is composed on a system that defines the proportional relationships among the visual elements that a given piece consists of, based on three major structural components: the rectangle, triangle, and circle. Henning notes that Davis' work within the Harmonic Grid tends to behave like a language; it is "based on a rationally conceived system which yet allows for an almost infinite variety of forms."

In interviews, Davis seems to be an advocate of understanding the "visual syntax" of his scultpure before making critical evaluations, citing once a quotation from Pablo Picasso: "I cannot speak a word of Chinese, but I would be a fool to deny the existence of the Chinese language." It wouldn't make sense to critically analyze Anna Karenina in Russian, applying only your understanding of the English syntax and alphabet.

Start is one of the few harmonic grid pieces that actually bears a name. Davis chose the name start because "Start" denotes time: an abstract concept. He felt an abstract concept was the only way to properly represent his abstract art.

The original location of start was at the corner of Ford and Bellflower, but in the 90's it was moved to its current location, where it retains the same symbolic meanings: at the start of the walk to class, near the freshman dorms, etc. In a postscript, after a letter to Harvey Buchannan, the curator of the Putnam Collection at the time of Start's installation, Davis also notes that the impetus for Start's construction is the letter "A".

Creator

Date

1981

Sculpture Item Type Metadata

Location City

Location County

Location Site

corner of Juniper and Magnolia in University Circle

Creation Date

01/01/1981