The Modern Tradition
In the world of the virtual, the actual is a contact high - and nothing is more actual than sculpture. For this reason alone, there is a powerful allure to the sleek, sensuous sculpture of Richard Erdman. The question then arises, how much of that allure results from the obdurate actuality of Erdman's stonework, and how much from the virtuosity invested in the work?
Tradition weighs on Erdman's mind, not to mention shoulders. He is dedicated not just to artistic practice, but artistic discourse, and does not just add to the number of objects in the world, but makes an argument for the spiritual and intellectual durability of what he produces. For Erdman, an artwork's presence is justified as much by the history it inheres and emotion it radiates as by the beauty and self possession it commands. Erdman's marbles and bronzes are not props in a gallery or museum; they are resonant concretions existing in the same material reality as their observers. They don't simply look like art, they are art.
Erdman professes allegiance to traditions of age-old craftsmanship and a century-old tradition of visual experimentation in great part because he was weaned on these traditions. Richard Erdman grew up near the oldest marble quarry in America and vividly remembers playing and exploring among its blocks and cliffs. Marble dust, it turns out, is an impossible addiction to shake.
Erdman was a champion downhill skier, twice All-American at the University of Vermont, and made the transition to the arts with a finality as thorough as it was dramatic. Choosing to forsake the slopes for the crevices, Erdman went to Italy to work in the studios at the foothills of the Carrara quarries, where he maintains a studio today. The result has been the steady evolution of a focused vision, a careful, almost nurtured sense of the abstract-organic hewn from stone that conjures living things - the human body not the least - without assuming their gross particulars.
The artist works in a style that, as inferred, is rooted in a modern tradition, one that continues to engage materials associated for centuries (especially but not exclusively in Europe) with the production of art and continues to engage formal languages associated in the past century with the most intelligent and progressive modes of artistic thought.
The mastery and spirit that the artist's work exudes has created a strong international following. Richard Erdman's sculptures are located in museums, as well as in public and private collections in over 40 countries throughout the world.
The artist has had more than 130 solo and group exhibitions throughout North America and abroad. He has executed over 90 public & corporate commissions for distinguished patrons worldwide, such as the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo, The Minneapolis Institute of Art, Princeton University, Four Seasons Park in Singapore, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, King Faisal Foundation in Riyadh, Shangri-La Hotel in Beijing and The Rockefeller Collection in New York, to name a few.
In 1985, PepsiCo commissioned Erdman to create the monumental sculpture Passage, which stands like a sentinel at the entrance of the esteemed Donald M. Kendal Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo, considered to be the finest collection of major 20th century outdoor sculpture. The twenty-five foot long, sixteen foot high Passage is the largest sculpture in the world created from a single block of marble. Carved from a massive 320-ton block of travertine, Passage wondrously embodies lightness, fluidity and grace, epitomizing Erdman's ingenious ability to create the chimerical from the prosaic.
Peter Frank; Los Angeles, 2011
to view Artist's collections, please visit www.richarderdman.com