History of The Captive Series Sculptures by Mark Lindquist

The theme of an artwork trapped within the block of material from which it will be freed by the sculptor has intrigued and motivated Lindquist from his years as an art student in the late 60s to the present.  This theme is the basis of a continuing series of sculptures Lindquist began in 1982.  The “Captives,” or “Prisoners” as he called the first pieces in this series, grew out of Lindquist’s art historical studies and his photographic juxtapositions of his early bowls with the wood from which they came.  The “Captives” are not only self- portraits, but also parodies of the famous “Prisoners” of Michelangelo, a series of sculptures of slaves left unfinished, appearing to struggle for release from the block of marble.

Michelangelo’s “Prisoners” were intended to function architecturally as support elements for a tomb.  The name “Prisoners” appears to derive both from the subject of the sculpture, the captive slave, and the sixteenth century term for a load-bearing figurative sculpture, “prigione.”  This is the equivalent of the Greek caryatid, which is historically a draped female figure.  In addition to showing the incomplete release of a form from its original material, the “Prisoners” also show the tension inherent in a sculpture whose form is constrained by intended functionality.  Lindquist’s  “Captives” comment on that duality, with the non-used functional form being the bowl, rather than the load-bearing column. 

Many sculptors have paid tribute to Michelangelo’s “Prisoners” in their work, for example, Modigliani’s Caryatid, and Matisse’s “The Backs” series.  Lindquist says, “There is something profoundly spiritual and self-referential about his idea.  We are trapped in our own existence, and we wrestle with issues and ideologies which try to hold us captive.  Another layer of meaning was added to the captive concept for me when I experienced a serious automobile accident.  After the vehicle I was traveling in at seventy miles per hour rolled over seven times and came to rest upside down, I experienced imprisonment (or entombment) as I was unable to move amidst the twisted wreckage.  This experience had profound effects, causing me to re-examine the sculptural idea of turning and struggling for freedom, resulting in a sculptural device that became self-portraits.”

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One of the photographic precursors to Lindquist’s “Captives” appeared on the cover of Fine Woodworking magazine in 1978 (above), a photo of a turned spalted bowl resting within the remainder of the turning blank from which it came.  In 1982, he created his first formal “Prisoner,” called Evolutionary Bowl, using the cone-cutting technique (now commonly used) that he had developed in the mid-70s to enable parting of the interior of a bowl from the blank.  He created the “Prisoner” by not completing the cone separation, thus decisively keeping the central vessel form held captive within the outer form of the block.  

Evolutionary Bowl was completed and sold in 1982.  It was first published in Lindquist’s book Sculpting Wood in 1986, and was later featured in an ad in the December 1986-January 1987 issue of American Craft magazine for his show called “Prisoners” which opened in Philadelphia at the Snyderman Gallery in January 1987.


Click Here To Read About The History of The Use Of The Flat Base in Mark Lindquist Sculptures


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