Jene Highstein, 'Black Walnut' (1981) walnut wood.
This sculpture of carved walnut wood demonstrates Highstein’s shift away from industrial materials. Highstein asserts that in carving a form out of a pre-existing material: 'I think that it’s becoming subtler. It has more to do with everything being touched, about every edge of everything being touched and being moulded.' It was in the 1980s that Highstein devoted a lot of his time to wood, and 'Black Walnut' is one of Highstein’s earliest carved wood sculptures. His woodwork became more ambitious as time went on, using cherry, elm and poplar wood on a much grander scale. 'Black Walnut' is the tentative but intimate manifestation of his first experiments in wood.
Carving from wood heightened the idiosyncratic nature of Highstein’s work. The natural grains, striations and discolorations are utilized to his full advantage, characteristics that are not naturally present in steel, bronze, iron or cement.
Black Walnut is now on show in our exhibition: Jene Highstein: Space and Place.