EXCERPTS FROM A DESCRIPTION OF THE UNIVERSE, 1985
cast iron sculpture
this lot is one of three total castings in existence and is part of a three-sectioned installation by the same title
assembled 23 ins x 10.75 ins; 58.4 cms x 27.3 cms
Tom Dean’s (b. 1947) work is evasive, with a deeply conceptual practice that has included painting, collage, video, performance, and installations. Since the 1970s he has deliberately destabilised the expected hierarchies of artistic media and technique. It is his bronze sculptures which have proven to be his most enduring works. Excerpts from a Description of the Universe is an extended serial sculpture produced at the end of the 1980s, comprised of a series of heavy steel tables filled with a myriad of natural and unnatural forms. Enigmatic objects made of porcelain and wood, bronze and hair, cotton and clay comprise an arcane and tactile inventory of the cosmos, with sections of the work held by the AGO, the National Gallery of Canada, and the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal. The bronze section here is emblematic of the larger work: made of cast iron, the heaviness of the material is offset by the sensuousness of the arrangement, as geometric order gives way to a liquid, amoeba-like flow. Dean’s objects address ideas of transience, evolution, and bodily desire with playful tactility, subverting our expectations of matter in order to expand the tensions between the ordinary and the mythical.
Private Collection, Massachusetts