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E D G E

A N D

L I N E

A N N

C H R I S T O P H E R


ANN

CHRISTOPHER

E D G E

A N D

L I N E

MARCH 1 – MAY 18, 2019

19 E AST 66 TH S TR EET

N EW Y ORK , NY 10065

212.202.3270

W W W. R O SE N B E R GC O . C O M


I N T R O D U C T I O N

T

HE SIMULTANEOUS POWER AND GRACE of Ann Christopher’s work captivated

me from the first time I saw one of her sculptures. The bold, unique purity of her sculptures nearly disguises the immense skill necessary to create them — yet it is precisely Christopher’s craftsmanship that allows this purity to be so palpable to the viewer. In their exploration of form and line, Christopher’s

sculptures and works on paper construct perfect balance on the edges of space, challenging how we ourselves occupy the space around these extraordinary works. Rosenberg & Co. is very pleased to present Ann Christopher’s inaugural solo exhibition in New York. A renowned artist in the UK, Christopher is a member of the Royal Academy, a fellow of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, and a leading figure in contemporary nonfigurative sculpture. Introducing the work of Ann Christopher to New York is both a great pleasure and of great importance: in its provocative timelessness, Christopher’s work grounds our present moment and expands notions of what contemporary can mean. This exhibition could not have happened without the support of Pangolin London, the artist’s representative in the UK. In particular, our appreciation and gratitude go to Polly Bielecka, Pangolin’s director, for her unrelenting support and good humor. We are honored to present this exceptional exhibition of Ann Christopher’s sculptures and works on paper.

M A RI AN N E R O S E N B ER G

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A N N

C H R I S T O P H E R

An Introduction from Pangolin London

“Observe a work by Ann Christopher in a mixed exhibition, such as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, and see how almost involuntarily passers by are brought to a halt by the works’ serious and magisterial presence. Sophisticated choice of surface textures interrupted occasionally by a controlled vertical cut or fine edged aperture, Ann Christopher’s work continues to mature, to delight and to inspire.” S I R H UG H C AS SON PPRA

BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPH of the glistening Citicorp Center soaring

into the bright sky above Lexington Avenue is one of Ann Christopher’s treasured possessions. It was taken on Christopher’s first trip to Manhattan in 1983, so it is more than fitting that her first solo show in New York should be a mere few blocks from this iconic building — the form of which still resonates with many of the works seen at this elegant exhibition at Rosenberg & Co. Ann Christopher was born in 1947 in Hertfordshire, England, and from an early age was fascinated with aeroplanes, fossils, metalworking, and her brother’s Meccano set. Aged 18, at a time when women were still considered anomalies in art school sculpture departments, Christopher made a firm decision to follow a path in sculpture. She has not deviated from or compromised this path since. Her talent was spotted early on by the well-known British sculptor Elisabeth Frink, who became a lifelong friend. Christopher gained entry into the West of England College of Art in 1966 where she was taught by the highly regarded figurative sculptors Ralph Brown and Robert Clatworthy. However, figuration held none of the mysterious existence that Christopher found in abstraction, and she was instead drawn to principles established by artists such as Sir Anthony Caro in the 1960s: that sculpture could be considered a powerful, enigmatic monument or an abstract ‘presence’ without being directly descriptive.

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Christopher’s indefatigably inquisitive eye explores and draws inspiration from a broad range of natural and man-made objects and textures created across the millennia. From the standing stones of Avebury and Stonehenge to ancient Cycladic Sculpture, from lichen on weathered stone to the sleek elegance of Concorde, the crisscrossing of telephone lines on an open horizon to an Eskimo seal knife — Chris topher’s work is stimulated by the world around us. Like a bowerbird, she feathers her nest with objects she finds on her travels or documents her findings with her camera — often only recognizing the original inspiration for a work once her deeply instinctive making-process is complete. Christopher’s in-depth knowledge of metal is unique, thanks in part to her long collaboration with her husband and b ronze founder Ken Cook. It is rare to find an artist who so sensitively manipulates cold, hard metal — often laboriously working the surface after it has been cast— to create rich, organic textures that are irresistibly tactile. Frequently, she adds tension to these organic surfaces by using inorganic, precise machine-milled lines, neoprene bands, or lethallooking spikes which contribute to her work ’s contemporary yet timeless presence. Christopher is also skilled at manipulating the contrast between light and shadow to add depth, intriguingly exploring absence alongside her work’s powerful existence. Ann Christopher was the youngest female sculptor to be elected a member of the Royal Academy in 1980, and she continues to be a highly respected and pro-active member of this prestigious institution. She has completed numerous public commissions in both the UK and USA, and her work is held in many public collections including those of the British Museum, London; City of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol; Contemporary Art Society, London; Corcoran Art Gallery, Washington, D.C.; and the Royal Academy. This solo exhibition in New York is long overdue, and we are delighted to have been able to assist in bringing it to fruition. It may be a first, but it is by no means a last: we look forward to watching Ann Christopher’s reputation grow in the inspirational city that inspired her.

P O LLY B I E LE C KA PANGOLIN LONDON

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Edge of Memory, 2013 Bronze, Edition 1/9

7.87 x 22.05 x 1.2 in.

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Silent Journey, 2016 Bronze and aluminum, Edition 3/6

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4.7 x 51.2 x 2.76 in.


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Restless Shadow, 2013 Corten steel, Edition 1/3

102.36 x 7.1 x 9.45 in.

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Silent Light 2, 2009 Stainless steel, Edition of 9

Mounted on board, 14.96 x 15.75 x 5.12 in.

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Shadow of Light, 2002 Sterling silver, Edition 3/9

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6.5 x 2.36 x 0.79 in.


Line of Light, 2001 Stainless steel, Edition 5/9

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8.66 x 1.57 x 1.18 in.


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Following Lines 2, 2016 Mixed media

Framed, 25.3 x 39.8 in.

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Following Lines 1, 2016 Mixed media

Framed, 25.3 x 39.8 in.

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Following Lines 4, 2016 Mixed media

Framed, 25.3 x 39.8 in.

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White Light (Wall), 2008 Sterling silver, Edition 4/9

Mounted on board, 14.96 x 15.75 in.

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Found Line– 1, 2013 Bronze, Edition 3/9

7.87 x 2.95 x 1.2 in.

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In Place of Light I, 2001 Stainless steel, Edition 3/9

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7.5 x 2.17 x.1.2 in.


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Beyond the Lines, 1994 Bronze, Edition 7/9

8.46 x 11 x 1.77 in.

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Suspended Line, 2010 Sterling silver, Edition 15/20

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4.72 x 1 in. pendant


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The Lines of Time 22, 2014–16 Pastel, graphite, and crayon on paper

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Framed, 11.38 x 12.13 in.


The Lines of Time 27, 2016 Pastel, graphite, and crayon on paper

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Framed, 11.38 x 12.13 in.


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The Lines Remain, 1991 Bronze, Edition 3/5

68.9 x 18.9 x 10.24 in.

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Line of Silence, 1991 Bronze, Edition 2/5

76 x 23.8 x 14 in.

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Solitary Line, 2013 Stainless steel, Edition 1/9

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21.46 x 1.97 x 1.2 in.


Suspended Shadow, 2014 Sterling silver and neoprene, Edition 1/20

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3.15 x 2.76 in. pendant


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Marks on the Edge of Space 9, 2009 Conte, graphite, Mylar, and aluminum on paper

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Framed, 18.11 x 18.5 in.


Marks on the Edge of Space 7, 2009 Conte, graphite, Mylar, and aluminum on paper

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Framed, 18.11 x 18.5 in.


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Marks on the Edge of Space 8, 2009 Conte, graphite, Mylar, and aluminum on paper

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Framed, 18.11 x 18.5 in.


Marks on the Edge of Space 12, 2009 Conte, graphite, Mylar, and aluminum on paper

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Framed, 18.11 x 18.5 in.


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The Edge of Light, 2002 Bronze, Edition 2/5

89.8 x 18.5 x 13 in.

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E T E R N A L O F

A N

E X P R E S S I O N

I N T E R N A L

F E E L I N G

An Interview with Ann Christopher

It was our privilege to speak with Ann Christopher about her work, and to learn more about her processes and inspirations. Her precise aesthetic vision is remarkable within her vast exploration of media, and whether in bronze or in pencil, her mastery of line, light, and movement is evident. The intense presence that her works have seems to be fostered by careful balance — between exacting lineation and soft textural detail; the contemporary and ancient; and between figurative stimulus and abstract expression. Rosenberg & Co.

Your sculptures feel so certain and distilled — utterly complete in themselves — that they can give the impression of having always existed. An encounter with your sculpture inspires deep contemplation. How do you know when a work is finished? Between conception to completion, what are key elements of your process? Conception starts in my head — a sense of shape, a feeling about size. Often mock-ups are made in card to play with scale. There may be a technical stage to work out how something will actually be made, because the larger the sculpture is, the more an inner structure or armature is required. The process from then on can vary from frenzied bouts of work to apparently inactive times of consideration — working out what move to make next. There are also “magic times” when the work itself dictates how it wants to be perceived. That sounds a bit mysterious but it really can happen. The work is finished when it stops looking as if something is missing — when it ceases to look “wrong.”

That’s a wonderful articulation of completing a work. When you begin a work, what instigates your choice of medium — whether it is pastel, pencil, bronze, or steel? Which metal I chose to cast in depends on what colour I want the final sculpture to be: bronze is much more accepting of different surface treatments than stainless steel. The choice of pastel versus pencil again is to do with colour, but also the type of mark I wish to make — I choose the pencil and crayons when more precise lines are required.

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The balance between your precise lines and intuitive surfaces is really masterful. Visual and tactile textures are major elements in both your drawing and sculpture, and you have spoken of your drawings as “three-dimensional works on paper.” How does it feel to move between working with steel and paper? Do your sculpture and drawing practices come from similar drives? My sculpture and my works on paper/drawings are of equal importance to me. The works on paper are rarely about the sculptures and vice versa — though they may be from similar inspirational sources. I describe some of my drawings as “works on paper” because there are often 3D-collage additions or shaped-and-cut elements. I rarely work on sculpture when I am drawing, and these drawings usually comprise a series which is rarely added to once completed. Quite often these series occur when there is a change about to take place in my sculpture — the drawing series will end and the sculpture will begin.

The range of size in your sculpture is dramatic, and the smaller works feel just as commanding as those that are monumental in scale. What, if anything, changes when you work on a small sculpture versus a large one? Generally, the smaller sculptures are quicker to make — but having said that, if I cannot resolve a sculpture it is irrelevant as to how big it is. Physical energy and time taken is the difference as I work without studio assistants at the initial stage of creating the sculpture.

Does the physicality of the casting and refining process influence how you initially visualize a new work? And on a very literal level, how are your hands after you have finished a sculpture? I am very much a hands-on sculptor, and although physically working with metal is hard and heavy I have, at some point, to make final refinements myself. Much of the casting or fabricating process is carried out by other people, but the final exacting demands cannot be easily conveyed or delegated. I know before the casting process has begun that I will be refining some elements once the sculpture is in metal. Having been involved in the casting world for so long, I know how a sculpture will look once it is in metal. I know what happens during the process, and how it can or will be worked on. It is not my hands that suffer, but my whole body and mind with the mental and physical fatigue that comes on with the completion of each work.

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Describing your early work, you once said that you “meant it to be stately but also to have a non-earthly element, to have something apart, just like a god.” This characterization was revelatory to read, as your new sculptures and drawings also feel striking in their unearthliness, or their “apart”-ness—something to do with purity, perhaps, or an elemental certainty. Does this early statement of yours still feel accurate in describing aspects of your work now? I believe sculptures should have presence: they are an external expression of an internal feeling and should not be lifeless. This is especially interesting when making abstract work and it is, in my opinion, often the reason people find sensing the presence unsettling when confronted with an inanimate and non-figurative sculpture. I cannot consciously add this presence but I feel very gratified when viewers sense it in my work. René Magritte said, People who look for symbolic meanings fail to grasp the inherent poetry and mystery of the image. No doubt they sense this mystery but they wish to get rid of it. They are afraid. By asking ‘what does this mean?’ they express a wish that everything be understandable. But if one does not reject the mystery, one has quite a different response. One asks other things.

Which artists are currently most important to your practice? Who was most influential in the past? And are there emerging artists whose work you are excited about? I primarily respond to non-figurative work and have always had a keen interest in contemporary architecture. The work of artists that I appreciate most is seldom like my own — their works feed my soul rather than influence my work. As a student, it was the welded works of Bryan Kneale that triggered my early metal sculptures. Rothko was the first artist I recall responding to emotionally, very early in my life. The works of Richard Serra, Christo, Bill Viola, Agnes Martin, Anselm Kiefer, Le Corbusier, and Tadao Ando are all artists and architects whose work I still enjoy. I am drawn to work that causes me to wonder and reflect, and that is the response I hope my own work will evoke.

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Your early work was much more rounded, almost biomorphic at times, while your more recent sculptures and drawings utilize straight lines and edges, working with a kind of sharpness. Was there a specific moment when your forms shifted from rounded to more angular? I do not recall that specific time — my works have always evolved from one to the next. I do recall some moments though: like my first visit to New York in 1983, after which my sculptures suddenly became tall and thin! The first use of texture was a memorable moment — I recall being quite alarmed at the texture that was demanding to be left on a sculpture, and had to force myself to let it happen; this was triggered by observations of strata and rocks in the late 1980s. I respond and react to the places I visit: the buildings of Manhattan inspired shape; the colour of the light in India and the pink walls of Venice influenced the patinas on bronzes; the colours of the soil in Menorca and Morocco and the countryside of Southern Ireland influenced the choices of colour for many works on paper. I often get a sense what might be happening next from the numerous photographs I take. They reveal my current preoccupations, be they lines, shadows, or shapes — but never figures. These images are not imitated, but they will all have been absorbed into my mind ready to re-emerge or not within a sculpture or drawing — a private vision of a shared view translated into a personal language. I wrote this in October 2007 for an exhibition entitled The Power of Place: “The power of a place can make it happen — the place is where and when. The place is where you are and where you are meant to be — the mystery is why it comes out the way it does.”

That’s a beautiful description: “a private vision of a shared view translated into a personal language.” Your work definitely has the feeling of its own language, and the titles of your work operate in a linguistically elemental space, composed of primordial, constituent nouns like “line,” “silence,” “shadow,” “distance,” and “time.” How do you title your work? I collect and keep lists of potential titles at all times. I will see a phrase or collection of words that will strike a chord and add it to a list. When thinking about selecting a title, I will refer to these lists and select a few titles that seem to be appropriate — this refined list will then be referred to until one title suddenly becomes dominant. A sculpture or drawing never gets its title until it is totally finished. However, I do have titles that are just waiting to be sculptures.

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In Place of Silence, 2001 Bronze, Edition 4/6

47.64 x 8.3 x 5.12 in.

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Held Line, 2013 Bronze and leather cord, Edition 2/9

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30.12 x 1.4 x 2.76 in.


Held Memory, 2013 Stainless steel, Edition 6/9

3.13 x 11.42 x 0.94 in. with separate small base

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Split Line, 1993 Bronze, Edition 8/9

9.45 x 3.74 x 1.2 in.

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Resting Line, 2013 Bronze and neoprene, Edition 1/9

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2.76 x 13.8 x 1.4 in.


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The Lines of Time 17, 2016 Pastel, graphite, and crayon on paper

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Framed, 11.38 x 12.13 in.


The Lines of Time 18, 2016 Pastel, graphite, and crayon on paper

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Framed, 11.38 x 12.13 in.


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The Lines of Time 23, 2014–16 Pastel, graphite, and crayon on paper

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Framed, 11.38 x 12.13 in.


Found Line– 2, 2013 Bronze, Edition 3/9

5.3 x 4.13 x 0.79 in.

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Sense of Place, conceived in 2001, cast in 2010 Bronze, Edition 6/9

17.05 x 2.2 x 1.85 in.

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In Place of Shadows, conceived in 2001, cast in 2010 Bronze, Edition 3/9

19.1 x 2.3 x 2.3 in.

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Red Line, 2013 Bronze, Edition 2/9

5.12 x 5.9 x 0.98 in.

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Outside the Shadows 18, 2013 Pastel, graphite, crayon, aluminum, and clips on paper

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Framed, 10.38 x 10.38 in.


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Outside the Shadows 2, 2013 Pastel, graphite, crayon, aluminum, and clips on paper

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Framed, 10.38 x 10.38 in.


Outside the Shadows 6, 2013 Pastel, graphite, crayon, aluminum, and clips on paper

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Framed, 10.38 x 10.38 in.


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Towards the Light, 2011 Stainless steel, Edition 1/9

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9.45 x 1.77 x 0.87 in.


Shadow Line, 2001 Bronze, Edition 5/9

18.9 x 5.12 x 1.77 in.

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Silent Line, 1995 Bronze, Edition 4/9

16.93 x 7.9 x 2.2 in.

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From the Edges of Silence, 2012 Bronze, Edition 2/7

29.7 x 4.65 x 4.13 in.

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Beyond All Distance, 2010 Bronze, Edition 2/6

39.17 x 7.6 x 5.3 in.

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The Dark is Equal to the Light, 2010 Bronze, Edition 1/9

29.92 x 2.76 x 3.15 in.

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Silent Space (Wall), 2010 Resin and aluminum, Edition 1/5

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2.36 x 62.2 x 10.6 in.


Dark Line, 1985 Bronze, Edition 3/3

85 x 16.93 x 5.12 in.

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Published on the occasion of the exhibition Ann Christopher: Edge and Line March 1–May 18, 2019

Rosenberg & Co 19 East 66th Street New York, NY 10065 www.rosenbergco.com 212-202-3270 info@rosenbergco.com

© 2019 Rosenberg & Co.

ISBN 978-1-7923-0600-6

All rights reserved. Photographs courtesy of Pangolin London and Rosenberg & Co. All works featured by Ann Christopher Catalogue design by Rishi Seth Printed by Puritan Press, Inc.


Profile for Rosenberg & Co.

Ann Christopher: Edge and Line  

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