You’d Think It Was Made Only Yesterday

One look at this particular sculpture, Untitled (Keith), and you’d think it was made only yesterday. Or that it was something made only a little earlier by someone like Mark Di Suvero or Richard Serra. Only it wasn’t made just yesterday, nor is it a Serra or a Di Suvero. It was one of their peers who made it—Allan Houser. And in 1994, at the age of 80, and only weeks before he’d pass away. At a time when most sculptors, if they embrace the abstract, or the minimal, their abstract or minimalist pieces tend to have a softness to them. A roundedness. Certainly not the hard sharpened edges so palpable here. Which is partly why Houser remains as contemporary today—and vital and relevant—as he did when he first turned to sculpting way back in the 1940s. After having only painted and drawn up until then, up until the moment Lawrence, Kansas’ Haskell Institute awarded him the commission on the piece—Comrade in Mourning—that would essentially launch his career as a sculptor.

“This piece represents,” says Professor Ashley Guernsey of the University of Oklahoma, “the kind of forward-thinkingness of a man who never stopped reinventing the form, or the possibilities of the form.”

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