About the Author: Camille Benton serves as a Curator for ART in EMBASSIES.
Negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians last week reminded us of the importance of balance and the art of communication. At the U.S. Ambassador's residence in Tel Aviv, Untitled by U.S. sculptor Joel Shapiro provides an interesting perspective on politics. The reductive bronze form conveys movement and energy in an expansive outward reach while simultaneously illustrating the precarious nature of the road traveled. According to the artist, "My sculpture is more about touching down on the ground than building up from the ground."
Since the mid-1970s, the human figure has become the most significant theme in Shapiro's sculpture. He adds nothing extraneous to the figure, making sculptures that are devoid of individuating detail, sexual identity, narrative, or identifying context. Through the human figure, Shapiro investigates the very nature of abstraction. At the same time, the sculpture conveys the inevitable progression of a person through time and space, however uncertain the journey. Shapiro met with Ambassador James Cunningham before he departed for Israel and loaned his work for inclusion in the current ART in EMBASSIES exhibition there.