FRAGMENTA: Jay Holland / Sergio De Giusti
FRAGMENTA: Jay Holland / Sergio De Giusti is an exhibition of sculptures and reliefs by two Detroit artists who have been making art for more than 90 years collectively. Holland taught sculpting at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit from 1964 to 1998. De Giusti taught art history and studio classes at Wayne State University and sculpting at the College for Creative Studies for many years. The exhibition will be at the Museum Sept. 29, 2015 to Jan. 23, 2016.
Left to Right: Jay Holland, Jay Holland in his studio, Jay Holland Helmet, Jay Holland Decision Pending
Sergio De Giusti
Mr. De Giusti’s work is frequently in relief and has a mysterious power and complexity. His depictions of gauze wrapped figures and old men with flowing beards set in ambiguous voids are at the same time disturbing and deeply evocative. Though these works stand within the tradition of Italian relief sculpture since the Renaissance and Donatello, their ambivalent subject matter sets them squarely within the 20th century and relates them to the work of fellow contemporary Italian artists such as Giocomo Manzu.
The Italian-born artist now resides in Michigan where he has taught art history and studio classes at Wayne State University and sculpture at the Center for Creative Studies in Detroit. His work has been widely exhibited both in the United States and Europe in such places such as The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Newark Museum, The Smithsonian, and London’s British Museum. He has had numerous public and private commissions, many of which were for major public building projects in Michigan and which therefore took as their themes the history and landscape of Michigan.
Sergio De Giusti is an Italian-born sculptor who now resides in Michigan where he has taught art history and studio classes for over twenty years. He is currently the subject of a one-man exhibition at The STUDIO where his sculptures will be on display through September 12, 1999. He has had numerous public and private commissions, many of which were for major public building projects in Michigan and which therefore took as their themes the history and landscape of that region.
Mr. De Giusti’s work, which is frequently in relief, has a mysterious power and complexity. For example, his relief entitled Images of Ur – Triptych is at the same time very old and very new, depending on how one looks at it. On first glance it reminds one of ancient Assyrian sculptures such as the reliefs of Ashurbanipal with their stiff warrior figures arrayed repetitively in row after row. This connection is emphasized by the title: Ur, one of the oldest cities in the world, was located in lower Mesopotamia. But on closer examination it becomes clear that the sculptor intends not only to allude to antiquity but to present-day events, specifically the Gulf War in which the United States and its allies drove Iraqi forces out of Kuwait. U.S. soldiers, with their distinctive helmets and cartridge belts, are seen clutching body bags while veiled Iraqi women uneasily observe them. Mr. De Giusti thus employs his art to show how the past and present mingle on the same stage of history.
This mingling is evident in other examples of Mr. De Giusti’s work, such as Benin Bell. The title and form of this sculpture recalls the African art of Benin and early twentieth century modernism in which African art is echoed. In its similarity to a Corinthian helmet, it also reminds the viewer of ancient Greek art. This eclecticism reflects the artist’s interest in the ethnographic and ritualistic aspects of art, especially of primitive art in which masks and other coverings connected with religious ceremony were employed. Perhaps the best representatives of the artist’s interest in religious ritual and older forms of art are his wrapped figures, two excellent examples of which, Fetish Figure I and II, are in the exhibition. These disturbing creations, which recall to the popular mind an Egyptian mummy, are for the artist symbols of Italian religious tradition in which shrouded images were carried in procession.
Mr. De Giusti’s modernist outlook is reflected in the way in which he treats his surfaces. In Images of Ur the artist achieves a broken, fragmented look by repeatedly stamping the clay surface with a wood block. In others, such as The Odyssey and The Conversion, the surface is animated by worm-like forms which cover both background and figures. This concern with the treatment of surfaces reflects Mr. De Giusti’s belief that in art the human act of creation is very important and that the process as evidenced by the artist’s “mark” must be visible. This modernist ideology helps link Mr. De Giusti’s work with that of his contemporary heroes and compatriots, Giacomo Manzu and Marino Marini.
Left to right: Sergio De Giusti, Sergio De Giusti in his studio, Sergio De Giusti Canopic Jars, Sergio De Giusti, Sergio De Giusti Genesis