The world is richer for having been graced with the astute observations of bronze artist Howard Hitchcock (1927-2016). The month of March brings a celebration of his final sculptures in the new exhibition “Howard Hitchcock: Out of a Fiery Furnace” which opens with a reception 1st Friday, March 2nd, from 5:00-8:00 pm at Lanning, a Bryant Nagel Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.
Howard Hitchcock was a sculptor for more than a generation, devoting decades to perfecting the art of ceramic shell casting. His artistic vision, one informed by humor, satire, and even commentary, often belies the seriousness of his skills and intellect. Every remarkable bronze he creates challenges viewers to work out its cleverness. In the artist’s sculptures stylized human forms, and often cars as well, blend into the structure of objects, both imagined and ordinary, and as disparate as train stations and violins. The human forms by Howard Hitchcock form the spokes of wheels, push over-sized envelopes and, in a piece entitled, “On the Cutting Edge,” perch atop a blade.
For thirty-two years Hitchcock devoted himself to sharing this knowledge as a university professor of art, teaching a course in bronze casting for close to two decades. When no book was available on this process, he wrote one: Out of the Fiery Furnace (William Kaufmann, Inc. 1985). “Ceramic shell casting is the most spectacular art process imaginable,” Hitchcock wrote in his book, “particularly at the crescendo of a night pour when the glowing, golden stream of liquid bronze flows into the red-hot shell, bringing it to neon incandescence in the dark.”
He went on to write about the process itself: “Lost-wax casting is truly an ancient and venerable art that has been practiced in diverse cultures and continents over thousands of years. The most modern approach to that ancient process, dating from only the mid-point of the twentieth century, is ceramic shell casting. Instead of being encased in the traditional solid-block mold that weakens in the heat of burnout, the wax model is thinly coated with a ceramic material that is fired by the burnout into a hard, lightweight shell for receiving the molten bronze. In both cases, whatever was wax becomes bronze.”
Sculptures by Howard Hitchcock have been exhibited throughout the United States, Mexico and Japan. And he is included in “Who’s Who in American Art.” With the artist’s passing in 2016, these are among the very last pieces of Hitchcock’s work that will be available.
Mark your calendar to attend the opening for “Howard Hitchcock: Out of a Fiery Furnace” on March 2nd. This exhibition runs through March 11.