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Brutalist Metal Sculpture Deep Dive
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Brutalist Metal Sculpture Deep Dive

Lately we have acquired several brutalist wall art pieces - so you know I had to do a mini deep dive!

What does "brutalist" mean?

Merriam Webster defines brutalism as "a style in art and especially architecture using exaggeration and distortion to create its effect (as of massiveness or power)."

From what I have seen of brutalist style metal artwork, there is often a raw, jagged or simple, organic form to the pieces.  Does that mean that the art is unfinished looking?  Not exactly.  I would say in a similar vein to mid century modern designs, the artwork does not have many added ornamental frills or stray from the basic form of the design.

So let's look at a few examples of brutalist artwork that we have acquired over the last few months.

C. Jeré

Our "Seagulls" Sculpture signed "C. Jeré 1968" 

We'll start with the "Seagulls" by C. Jeré, which we are keeping as a personal piece for now.  I've been asked how to distinguish the authentic C. Jeré from the imitation designs and since I am not an expert, I can only say that the main thing that I notice is how solidly constructed the authentic sculpture is.  It was surprisingly heavy and more detailed on closer inspection.  Having a signature also was a good thing to look for.

Profile view of C. Jere "Seagulls"

C. Jeré is actually a pseudonym or nom-de-plume combining the names of the founders Curtis Freiler and Jerry Fels.  The two were brothers-in-law and founded the company Artisan House with the aim to create "gallery-quality art for the masses". 

Their company Artisan House still sells their designs today.  According to the Artisan House website, designer Jonathan Adler commissioned the company to reproduce a series of the C. Jeré 1970s designs. 

Casadevall

When we acquired a brass sunburst with the signature "Devall" on the back, I wanted to know more about the artist and the value.  There were listings on 1st Dibs crediting the artwork to Casa Devall, but relatively little information about the artist.  After some digging, I found the artist's website, although it seemed like it hadn't been updated in a while.  In one of the forums that I posted in looking for information, several people said that the pieces were produced one by one by the same artist Larry Casadevall.  Unfortunately, he passed away in 2019.

His obituary stated about his business Devall Sculptures Inc. "For 24 years, his 55,000 brass and copper sculptures have found their way into local homes, businesses and galleries as well as throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and as far away as Singapore."

William and Bruce Friedle

Sunburst attributed to William Friedle that we previously sold

William and Bruce Friedle were brothers that ran a sculpture shop in New York City.  We were really impressed with the sunburst that we recently sold that was attributed to them.  We didn't find a signature on it, but according to an article on groovywares.com, the Friedles didn't normally sign their work, but would place a paper label on it.  The site also credited them with starting the sunburst art movement in the 60s.

Bijan

 

We believe this piece is by Bijan or in a very similar style

Another notable artist was Bijan.  He came to the US from Iran in 1959 and was first noticed for his paintings but he later was famous for his metal sculptures.  According to Groovywares.com Bijan has over five thousand copyrighted designs!

Harry Bertoia's "Sunburst" Sculpture at our local library

branch here in Omaha

Other notable brutalist sculptors are Harry Bertoia, William Bowie and Willem Degroot.  I am sure that there are more than what I mentioned here.  For instance, we were unable to identify the designer of one of our wall hangings.  

Are you attracted to brutalist metal sculptures?  Do you have a favorite designer?

Brutalist wall sculpture by an unknown designer that we have available for sale.

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