British, born 1972
A and C missile, 2008
Plaster and leather on plinth
Missile: 23 3/4 x 5 3/4 x 5 3/4 inches (60.3 x 14.6 x 14.6 cm), plinth: 52 1/2 x 9 x 9 inches (133.4 x 22.9 x 22.9 cm)
Bequest of Arthur B. Michael, by exchange, 2011
David Thorpe creates remarkable handcrafted objects rooted in both the present and the past. Working in a multitude of media, including watercolor, sculpture, and large-scale sculptural installation, Thorpe creates works that are meticulous in their ornate patterning and attention to detail. A and C missile, 2008, calls to mind the sleekness of a missile ready to launch. The sculpture is decorated with leather cut into floral patterns. The familiar missile object is rendered null and void of its common function, decorated in ornate patterning and set atop a plinth as if it were an ethnological relic. Shadows (5), 2010, executed in watercolor and pencil on paper, continues this organic motif; an expansive geometrically applied floral pattern in lush, deep green watercolors fills the drawing with continual movement, circulating between endless arboreal branching and containment defined by surface area. The naturally inspired design is subjected to an artificial artistic order that, by ornamentation, dissolves back into its natural origins. Throughout his work, Thorpe aims to capture and reinterpret the utopian spirit prevalent at the turn of the twentieth century. Reminiscent of an artisan in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts Movement—or its American counterpart, Elbert Hubbard’s Roycroft establishment, founded here in Western New York—Thorpe marries recognizable design templates with patterned overlays inspired by the natural world. His works stem from a collaborative effort. Working with skilled craftsmen and adhering to medieval recipes for paint and ceramics, Thorpe pays homage to the age-old relationship between the object and its maker, as well as the pride of craft often associated with such processes.
More about the artist
David Thorpe was born in London, England, in 1972. He received a BA (Hons) in Fine Art from Humberside University in 1994. In 1998 he received an MA in Fine Art from Goldsmiths College. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Taro Nasu Gallery, Tokyo (2003); the Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, Germany (2004); Worcester Art Museum, Massachusetts (2006); the Camden Arts Centre, London (2006); Museum Kurhaus Kleve, Germany (2008); and the Casey Kaplan Gallery, New York (2010). He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, both nationally and internationally. The Albright-Knox Art Gallery’s acquisition of these works marks the first museum acquisition of Thorpe’s work. He currently lives and works in London, England.
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