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Steven Montgomery: Broken

February 11 - May 21, 2006 Free Admission

Montgomery has selected for his motifs pieces of engineering that serve in daily life as emblems of beauty and power – the high compression engines of swift and powerful automobiles and the doors of secure and powerful vaults where treasures are stored. But the once impenetrable vault is crippled, the high-speed engine is stilled. They are contemporary ruins, turned to rust. The lock is sprung, the cylinders are frozen. The symbols of strength and speed have fallen into the condition of eloquent junk. Montgomery’s magic as a ceramist consists in the way in which he disguises the fact that these effigies of disintegration are made of clay at all.

We are fooled into believing that we are looking at skillful imitations of real mechanisms in various states of decrepitude. But it is not in truth that he has replicated an actual automobile engine, or a rusted pipe, or a devastated door to a large safe. What he has produced are convincing fantasies of such objects. There are no actual objects that he has, so to speak, lugged back to the studio and portrayed in clay. They are fabrications through and through.

Montgomery’s sculptures are industrial fictions–thinking of them as mere copies of reality spoils half the pleasure of looking at them.

–Arthur C. Danto