MYTHIC SCULPTURE: Manship, DeLue, Anderson
November 17, 1990 to January 6, 1991
MINNESOTA MUSEUM OF ART
Landmark Center Galleries, Fifth at Market, St. Paul, MN
Roger Arvid Anderson’s childhood in Saint Paul still shapes his artwork. The classical architecture of the Minnesota State Capitol building designed by Cass Gilbert, and the anthropology exhibits at the Science Museum are among his early memories. The monumental “God of Peace” by Carl Milles in City Hall inspired an early interest in mythic sculpture. Even childhood play involved carving backyard dirt piles into imaginary cities.
Already painting in his teens, his interest turned to German Expressionism and Abstract Expressionism. Later he immersed himself in the methodical realism of Renaissance traditions. The artist is a graduate of Dartmouth College in New Hampshire and Cambridge University in England where he was a member of St. John’s College. After a period of travel, Anderson settled in San Francisco, a city of many cultures. Asian and Mesoamerican art in particular influenced his thinking and inspired him to begin working in bronze in the mid 1970s.
In the context of this exhibition, Roger Arvid Anderson is an artist exploring time-honored themes with some formal qualities from outside the traditions of Paul Manship and Donald DeLue. He describes his sculptures as combinations of his varied influences, from personal and world history to ancient, tribal, and modern art. As the artist himself states: “I don’t deny influences: the poetry of all arts is to make new combinations.”
Adapted from an artist’s statement
by Roger Arvid Anderson, November 11, 1990
I am a sculptor whose temples and towers, whose discs and mysterious landscapes, whose heroes, beauties and demons, whose magical birds and animals belong to a mind not entirely self-possessed. It’s not a madness that plagues me, but a realm of mental chaos where perhaps I’ve become the unwitting captive and conduit of a cultural subconscious…
Sometimes I think my bronze pieces are excavated from my imagination. Within myself I feel I’ve discovered an entire civilization rooted in that theater that deposits its stage between reality and fantasy. I’m possessed by a passion to dig and search. I also consider the imaginary civilization I explore to be on a conversational continuum that unites the past, present and future. My taste has Caesar’s expansiveness: however, unlike the ancient Romans, I’m not confined to the Mediterranean basin for ideological plunder, nor for that matter is my mind confined to one planet or one solar system. Space Age Technology and science fiction art inspire me as much as a Shang Dynasty bronze vessel or an African tribal mask…
We face a new millennium and in the mythology of numbers it’s a terrifying prospect. We grumble, here we are, at the brink, with no standards, no vision and no leaders. We currently call our times post-modern for the lack of a better term… At the end of the modern era in art the arbiters of taste decreed that for art to be pure, it should be free of literary references. That decree has lapsed. The pull of mythology is too powerful to ignore or banish. Why? Because mythology begins with ourselves and how we think of ourselves…
Facing a haunted future and pillaged environment artists undoubtedly will continue to be misunderstood, but as the bawdy stars of social alienation it’s time to sit up, the arts have now some very practical chores. New times will need new legends. Humankind’s need for myths has not bated. The arts have long has a certain noble duty to identify and interpret myths. Think of our times and think of the old metaphor of the mirror so steamed we can no longer see ourselves. As an artist I am trying to wipe that reflective surface to see who and what is there. For sculptors and painters, that is our particular gift: to search, to see and to share