Kirk Newman


Kirk Newmans critical acclaim is wide spread with both national and international exhibitions.  His pieces are installed in many public and private collections including the Detroit People Mover Station, Detroit Receiving Hospital, and a grouping of life size bronzes at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids.
Thirty years ago Kirk made a peculiar change in artistic direction.  He turned away from abstract sculpture and began fashioning small figures in business suits and casting them in bronze. This move was all the more curious considering the shady atmosphere of the 1960s art world.  Radical experimentation and calculated artistic outrage was then in vogue.  Art had to be new. The human figure was derided as anachronistic or, even worse, academic.  Yet Kirk sensed that the guy in a business suit spoke to something essential about the times in which he lived.  His own involvement with business had shown him that behind the commonplace suit was a complex world of power that generated an enormous range of human responses, everything from existential angst to cocktail humor.  At its heart was what had fascinated artists throughout time the human condition itself.  Since that time, Kirks astute observations of contemporary life were reflected in the rich expressive character of his homely little figures. Some show the oblique touch of topical humor while others rely on a biting satire and surrealistic absurdity.  But in the best of his works there are suggestions of something deeper and more enigmatic than social commentary.  Kirks concern is not just to observe human nature, but the underlying mystery of what the human animal has carried through centuries of evolution.  The business suit only costumes the urgent dynamic present.  Against landscape of the Fortune 500, Newman saw not only shadows of Kafka but the fossilized human remains from prehistory.

As Kirk seeks to give his figures a denser meaning, their sculptural form paradoxically becomes more dematerialized and illustionistic.  His increasing awareness of man as the mutable subject of evolution is at odds with traditional figurative sculpture.  In his view, mans physical presence is growing ever more ephemeral because of the speed of technological change.  With this in mind he began to conceive of the figure as sculptural shadow whose rich textures and exaggerated gestures reflect todays hectic pace, and endowed with a healthy dose of humor.