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The Art of Michael Dunbar in the Sculptural Tradition

Michael Dunbar's Continuum Exhibition

In 2013 the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University in Indiana received Michael Dunbar’s Fallen Warrior (For Eduardo), a gift from collector Dr. Terry Travis. As is the case for many of Dunbar’s works, inspiration for the sculpture’s title is twofold: first, a reference to Henry Moore’s bronze Fallen Warrior; second, a tribute to Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida. Inspired by this acquisition and its historicizing title, museum director Robert La France is displaying Dunbar’s Machinist Studies, a series of sculptures smaller in scale than the monumental works for which he is best known (Fallen Warrior itself is slightly larger, at four feet tall) alongside historical selections from the museum’s own collection of sculpture, including works by Daniel Chester French, Alexander Calder, Willem de Kooning, and Tony Smith, among others. The exhibition’s title, Continuum: The Art of Michael Dunbar in the Sculptural Tradition, encapsulates the desire on the part of both curator and artist to place Dunbar’s work in the context of the masters who came before him.

The Art of Michael Dunbar in the Sculptural Tradition was on show at the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University through December 19, after which it traveled to the University of Notre Dame where it was on show from January 29 through March 5, 2017.  

Michael Dunbar's Fallen Warrior (For Eduardo)

michael dunbar at the david owsley museum of art

Many contemporary sculptors emphasize their self-conscious break from the art of the past. In contrast, Michael Dunbar acknowledges roots and continuity with twentieth-century masters. The Continuum  Exhibition places the artist’s contemporary Machinist Studies series at the end of a history featuring realist, figurative, cubist, geometric, and kinetic styles as represented by examples from the David Owsley Museum of Art’s permanent collection.

Continuum Exhibition at the David Owsley Museum. Steven J. Talley for Ball State University, September 22 2016

The comparison between Dunbar’s sculptures and modern sculpture invites viewers to contemplate the translation and transformation of sources and stylistic elements over time—that is, to consider a continuum of materials, processes, subjects, spatial languages, and content.

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