new hardcover, 2020
by Glenn Adamson, Alyssa Ballard, Fariba Bogzaran, Rene Bustamante, Louise Allison Cort, Lucy R. Lippard, Isamu Noguchi, Mariah Nielson (editor) Abake (editor)
This is the first publication to explore the entire oeuvre of the great American sculptor JB Blunk, with previously unseen examples of his work in stone, clay, painting and jewelry. The design beautifully combines archival images of Blunk’s work in situ and at his home and his studio, with color plates of newly photographed pieces. In an essay, Lucy R. Lippard discusses Blunk’s reverence for ancient art and places, while Smithsonian Curator of Ceramics Louise Allison Cort details Blunk’s formative years in Japan. Glenn Adamson, Senior Scholar at the Yale Center for British Art, contributes an essay that explores the essence of Blunk himself along with his artwork.
Blunk maintained a Midwestern sensibility of hard work and plainspokenness throughout his career, with little regard for the distinction between art, craft and design. Rather, he was guided by the materials with which he worked to create large sculptural pieces that seem to exude their own powerful energy unique to organic matter.
Born in Kansas, James Blain Blunk (1926-2002) was a California-based sculptor who worked primarily with wood and clay. His 1969 piece The Planet, a seating installation created from the remains of a two-ton redwood burl, now resides permanently in the lobby of the Oakland Museum of California. Following a period of apprenticeship in Japan, Blunk settled near the Marin County town of Inverness, California, where he built his own studio, and developed a lifelong friendship with the painter Gordon Onslow Ford. In addition to woodwork and ceramics, Blunk also worked with jewelry, painting, furniture-building, bronze and stonework.