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Manfred Muller’s “Twilight and Yearning” beneath the Santa Monica Pier

I though I would repost some art writing from my Echo in the Sense website here:

October 9, 2006

Much of 2004 was spent taking long walks along the Santa Monica pier and wallowing in a tide of inertia. I came upon this installation for the first time this January at a time when I very much needed a mental jog from the past.

The boat sculpture/permanent installation in these photos is Manfred Muller’s “Twilight and Yearning.”

I had the opportunity to hear him lecture at Form Zero bookstore in 1994 and he mentioned the boats under the pier. He first proposed it to the Santa Monica City Council in 1992, but it still took several years for the city to greenlight his project.

I still remember the gallery pieces I saw ten years ago at Form Zero. Each was about a foot high made of cardboard or felted paper; they were gate-folded and scored, duplexed with a contrasting color on one side, and shapes were cut out. Each one was like a present or a large banana leaf folded over on itself. He was working on a series of not quite assemblage pieces, a visual pun on figure and ground and enclosure and these had an architectural feel or a very tangible sense of being a part of a larger dialogue. These very much reminded me of the maquettes of sculptor Betty Gold and her process of arriving at her monumental public sculpture pieces: reduction from a very basic shape; she usually starts from a rectangle.  With some of Muller’s pieces, complexity is dependent on audience reference points; how personal and social memory weaves itself in relation to form.

Sculpture magazine has a meaty critique of where his work is in the present. The USC Fischer Gallery has a catalogue page with photos from his recent exhibit there.