September 2, 2014

Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz
Kenneth Tyler, Roy Lichtenstein and Dick Polich at the Tallix Foundry, 1977. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy Dick Polich. © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

The Dorsky Museum is delighted to present Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art, an exhibition of work by some of the most important artists of our time who have worked with Hudson Valley Master Dick Polich. Organized by the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art at SUNY New Paltz, the exhibition will be on display from August 27 through December 14, in The Dorsky’s Morgan Anderson, Howard Greenberg Family, and Corridor Galleries. The public opening reception is Saturday, September 6, 5–7pm.

A metallurgist and art foundry owner, Polich makes art for artists. His foundries turn models, concepts, and designs into bronze, steel, aluminum, iron, and silver works of art. The Dorsky exhibition features sculptures by Janine Antoni, Cleve Gray, Nancy Graves, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Isamu Noguchi, Tom Otterness, Rona Pondick, Martin Puryear, Joel Shapiro, and Frank Stella that were cast by Polich and his team of talented craftspeople. Photographs, drawings, models, and other materials in the exhibition present the creative process from sketch to finished sculpture.

Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art is the first museum exhibition to survey the career of Polich, one of the world’s principal art fabricators who, like others in his profession, remains behind the scenes. The exhibition, curated by Daniel Belasco, the curator of exhibitions and programs at The Dorsky Museum, reveals how Polich has impacted the development of contemporary art by opening up the industrial process of metal casting and fabrication to accommodate the creative choices of artists.

The exhibition consists of three sections. The first section interweaves a history of Polich’s foundry leadership from 1969 to today with 11 carefully selected works of art that reveal the transformations in style, technique, and medium fostered by Polich. The second section presents an in-depth video documentary about the Polich Tallix Fine Art Foundry by artist Stephen Spaccarelli. The third section delves into the techniques and materials of contemporary foundry work. A witty installation by Otterness demonstrates all the steps involved in making a bronze sculpture with Polich.

Polich is being featured as a part of The Dorsky Museum’s “Hudson Valley Master” series, which has honored Robert Morris, Don Nice, Leslie Dill, Judy Pfaff, and Carolee Schneemann with one-person exhibitions that provide an in-depth survey of a selected artist’s career and current work. The exhibitions are accompanied by scholarly catalogues that become part of a permanent archive documenting the region’s rich contemporary art scene.

The fully illustrated, 106-page catalogue documents the exhibition and surveys Polich’s work with artists since the 1960s. Belasco contributes a scholarly art historical survey of 50 years of work produced by Polich and his foundries. Polich contributes a statement on craftsmanship and metal casting. Participating artists, including Antoni, Koons, Otterness, Pondick, Puryear, and Shapiro, contribute personal statements about collaborating with Polich. Longtime employees Vanessa Hoheb and Thom Joyce provide behind-the-scenes descriptions of Polich’s energy and influence. Additional materials include a list of the nearly 500 artists who have made art with Polich, and a world map locating over 100 public monuments and sculptures produced in his foundries.

Public programs on the SUNY New Paltz campus this fall include a gallery talk on the properties of metals by Polich and a conversation between Polich and artists with whom he has worked closely. A panel discussion by artisans at the foundry will discuss the experiences and challenges of being the maker of an artist’s work.


About The Dorsky Museum
One of the largest museums within the SUNY system, The Dorsky supports and enriches the academic programs of SUNY, presents a broad range of world art, and serves as a center for Hudson Valley arts and culture. The Dorsky was officially dedicated on October 20, 2001. Since then it has presented over 100 exhibitions, including commissions, collection-based projects, and in-depth studies of contemporary artists including Robert Morris, Alice Neel, Judy Pfaff, Carolee Schneemann, and Ushio Shinohara.

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