Untouchable Sculpture

Jeffrey Haddorff, the stuff the world is made of, Korn Gallery, Madison, NJ

By Brianna Scotti

Published: April 10, 2020

The medium of sculpture is connected to our Earth as well as human touch. Through the exhibition, the stuff the world is made of, curator Kim Rhodes explores these ideas with the guidance of Anni Albers’s 1938 essay “Work with Material.” The context the exhibition surrounds is the natural material of clay in which art is produced. Contemporary artists Martha Clippinger, Jeffrey Haddorff, Valerie Hegarty, and Leah Wolff are showcased in this exhibition for their start to finish use of the Earthly material of clay.

Human interaction and manipulation with the natural material is the practice these artist share, yet the viewer is unable to interact with the art in the physical sphere at all. The viewer is only able to interact with a pdf of this exhibition due to the current pandemic that has swept this world preventing human interaction. Viewing the show over an unnatural device in a disconnected way is ironic to the show’s purpose, yet finger like sculptures protruding out of the ground of the Korn Gallery, even virtually, grabs the eyes of the viewer.


Jeffrey Haddorff, All My Favorite Singers Couldn't Sing (detail), ceramic, 2020, https://jeffreyhaddorff.com/
Jeffrey Haddorff, What Rough Beast, ceramic, 72" x 56" x 46"2020, https://jeffreyhaddorff.com/

By focusing on the works of Jeffrey Haddorff’s, the concepts of the Albers’ essay are displayed through his experimentation in scale and construction of sculpture. Haddorff uses white or thin wire clay with underglaze and glaze to produce his works of art. Haddorff captures the sensitivity of clay to touch by throwing slabs against the floor allowing these textures along with the marks of the artist’s hands to be evident. The interactions become a texture enticing the viewer closer to observe the piece’s imperfections. Virtually unable to get close and literally unable to touch the sculpture the viewer is only ever able to feel the texture with their eyes.

The first noticeable part to Haddorff’s sculptures is their immense scale for the medium. In person these pieces are almost lifelike, but because of the virtual platform viewers are unable to physically feel the power of observing Haddorff’s sculptures. Observation of scale is only possible in the gallery images where other art work is in the background. Through the photographs, provided by curator Kim Rhodes, the viewer is meant to enter the Korn Gallery and be welcomed by Haddorff’s abnormal shapes protruding from the ground. His pieces align with the windows of the gallery to further highlight the connection between the medium of clay to nature. Haddorff put together his peculiar sculptures with Rhodes direction of placement.

Haddorff said that each piece once created in its entirety spoke which color they desired to be. Haddorff said the shapes of his sculptures stems from sketches in his notebook, but recently he has let the clay guide him. Haddorff hand builds the intriguing, cylinder like, shapes that comprise his gravity defying sculptures. Each particular piece performs balancing act physical, but also representing the balance we find between the vulnerable and robust parts of the Earth the sculpture is made from.

Due to the current Pandemic the exhibition, the stuff the world is made of, can only be seen through images captured in this PDF: http://art405s20.photographicobservation.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/the-stuff-the-world-is-made-of.pdf 

Jeffrey Haddorff, 2019, white earthenware clay with underglaze and glaze, from right to left: All My Favorite Singers Couldn’t Sing; Mountain Station, Mountain Station; It’s All Coming Back to Me Now; What Rough Beast, the stuff the world is made of, Korn Gallery, Madison, NJ, http://art405s20.photographicobservation.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/the-stuff-the-world-is-made-of.pdf