Bruce Beasley

Bruce Beasley is among the most established sculptors in the nation. He lives and works in Oakland, California, and his work is exhibited throughout the world.

At the age of 21 he became the youngest artist to ever have work collected by New York's Museum of Modern Art. Since then, Beasley's sculptures have been collected by 30 of the world's best known art museums, including: The Guggenheim, NY; The Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; The Musee National d'Art Modern, Paris; and most recently The National Museum of China.

Beasley describes himself as a "classical modernist", meaning that his work uses the visual language of shape, line and color. The formal concepts for his works stem from natural sources, such as the large and unusual cliff formations of Monument Valley in Arizona. Of particular interest are crystals, molecular structures or bones that stir his creative process. Based on the simplest stereometric bodies such as cubes, pillars, and columns, he creates his sculptures with combinations that are either characterized by a block-like, static unity or the quality of enveloping space in a manner that seems to defy gravity.

He was one of 12 artists chosen internationally to create monumental sculptures for the Beijing Olympic Games. He has recently installed a 70 foot tall sculpture for the City of Monterrey, Mexico, and he has just been chosen to create a monumental stainless steel sculpture for the upcoming Shanghai Expo in 2010.

Born in Los Angles in 1939, Bruce Beasley is recognized as one of the most noteworthy and innovative sculptors on the West Coast. He began his art studies at Dartmouth College before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley art department in 1959. His timing was excellent: Berkeley was the epicenter of a revival in sculpture in the late 1950s. Beasley was exposed to distinguished sculptors Sidney Gordin, Richard Hanlon, Harold Paris and, most importantly, Peter Voulkos. Beasley joined Voulkos, Paris, and foundryman Donald Haskin to build the Garbanzo Works, a foundry in west Berkeley where they created major works in cast bronze and aluminum.

Even as a student Beasley's dynamic and space-enveloping sculptures generated interest: his work Chorus was acquired by New York's Museum of Modern Art, making him the youngest artist at the time to be included in its permanent collection. After graduation, he was one of 11 sculptors to represent the U.S. at the Biennale de Paris in 1963. His piece Icarus was acquired by Minister of Culture Andre Malraux for the French National Collection. This led to acquisitions by Le Musee de Art Moderne in Paris, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and prominent private collections.

Beasley bought a run-down warehouse complex in west Oakland in 1964 and turned it into a foundry and living quarters. His early works from the 1960s used iron from industrial scrap he found at junkyards and cast aluminum. By mid-decade Beasley's work was characterized by his forthright interest in technical experiments and new technology and by his involvement in the arrangement of elementary structures, especially crystals. By the end of the 1960s he had turned to a new medium: cast, clear acrylic, an untried material with daunting technical hazards.

Beasley approached the DuPont Corporation in 1968 for technical and financial support to produce a monumental cast-acrylic sculpture commissioned by the state. DuPont instead donated a generous amount of acrylic material and Beasley began his casting experiments. In 1969 he made a major breakthrough in casting technology, creating a process that enabled him to produce Apolymon, the 13,000-pound commissioned work. This technology also made possible the creation of an all-transparent bathysphere in 1976 for underwater exploration and the large clear walls in today's aquariums. His innovation was awarded a commendation by NASA and was the subject of a television program produced by the Smithsonian Institution in 1991.

After a decade of prolific production in cast acrylic, Beasley turned to large-scale metal sculpture. In 1978 he created three large metal pieces, for the Miami International Airport, a state office building in San Bernadino, and the San Francisco International Airport. In 1983 Beasley created Arristus, a 14-foot stainless steel piece for the Djerassi Foundation, in Woodside, California. That same year Stanford University purchased his 28-foot stainless steel sculpture Vanguard. He created a 32-foot piece, Artemon, for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

In 1988 Beasley began conceiving his pieces on a computer, and was one of the first artists to use computer-assisted design (CAD) technology. He learned and modified a three-dimensional computer solid-modeling system to visualize complex geometric relationships prior to construction. His progress was interrupted by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake; his studio, only blocks from the collapsed Cypress Freeway, was damaged. Within a year he resolved his technical problems associated with the precision of his new style and created Pillars of Cypress, cast from the freeway's crushed rebar steel.

Beasley has traveled to Japan, Mexico, China, Hong Kong, Germany, Alaska, and Spain to lecture and attend exhibits and installations of his work. In 1998 he visited Egypt for the Cairo Biennale; the Egyptian government purchased his sculpture, Ally II, for its national collection. His travels to the prehistoric caves of France and Spain and his collection of Oceanic and Alaskan art and artifacts have served as important source material.

A self-described "unrepentant modernist", Bruce Beasley advanced the idea of sculpture with formal structures that could be simultaneously observed in multiple views, and in changing and reflecting light, as in Tragamon (the gift of Dr. and Mrs. Frederick Novy). The Oakland Museum's retrospective of his work demonstrates the artist's growth, range, and ingenuity over the past four decades. Never static, Beasley continues to work from his West Oakland compound, using new materials and new technologies.

Bruce Beasley on Wikipedia

Current available work

Ally, cast bronze with patina, 60h x 29w x 18d

Ally, alternate view, cast bronze with patina, 60h x 29w x 18d

Ancile, cast bronze with patina, wall sculpture, 38h x 28w x 9d

Foray, cast bronze with patina, 32h x 30w x 9d

Knight's Gambit II, cast bronze with patina, 50h x 60w x 48d

Upthrust, cast bronze with patina, 19h x 16w x 13d

Precursor, cast bronze with patina, 10h x 20w x 19d

Thrust, cast bronze with patina, 25h x 32w x 13d

Convergence, cast bronze with patina, 20h x 27w x 17d

Apparition, cast bronze with patina, 24h x 27w x 19d

Selected Public Installations

Gathering of the Moon, Olympic Park, Beijing, China

Quest, Miami University, Oxford, OH

Ascender IV, City of Brea, CA

Vitality, City of Oakland, CA

Guardian, Sn Francisco Federal Bank, Fan Francisco, CA

The Hesperides, San Francisco International Airport

Vanguard, Stanford University, Stanford CA

Arristus, Djerassi Foundation, Woodside, CA