Donald Lipski is an American sculptor, born in Chicago in 1947. He received a BA from University of Wisconsin in 1970, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI, in 1973. From 1973 to 1977 he was Assistant Professor of Art at The University of Oklahoma in Tulsa. While his first interests were in the video and behavioural art of the 1970s, he became known in the early 1980s for large installations of sculptures made from objects found discarded in the street.
"Eternal Journey" "Good as Gold"
"Leaves of Grass"
"Psyche" "Psyche" - close up
Through the 1970s and 1980s, I plumbed the possibilities of objects I came across in the rapidly changing world of Lower Manhattan, industrial New Jersey, and Brooklyn, with forays into industrial sites, scrap yards, and other arcana.
When my son was born sixteen years ago, I left New York. I lived and worked in Sag Harbor, a charming town. Lacking art-making materials much beyond trees and sand, I was, in a way, liberated--anything I imagined could become material for my use. The process was more cerebral and conceptual, fostering a body of public works largely conceived on the computer.
Two years ago, I moved to Philadelphia, a city rich with the relics of a decaying industrial base. This change has sparked a new round of hands-on sculpture making--physical, free-wheeling, and unguarded.
"Tent" - this sculpture is wind activated.
"The Doors" "The Doors" - interior
When Lipski gets in the groove of a certain medium or idea, he will expand on that and play with it many times before he lets it go. This can be illustrated by comparing “Tent” to “The Doors” or his many book sculptures (a few pictured above). Much like those, he continued the circle theme into other works using anything from wine bottles to bikes to guitars. He isn't fickle about his ideas. He doesn't make a piece and then move on to the next concept. Lipski pushes a thought to the limits of his ability. Below you can see one idea in many different forms. Here he is examining the properties of organic materials and the operation of ecological systems. He searches out thick-walled industrial and scientific glass containers, such as tanks, spheres, and tubing, that are rated to hold highly toxic acids. Instead of using these vessels for dangerous materials, he encloses delicate and ephemeral substances, such as plants, in order to protect them from an increasingly toxic environment. The objects float in acid-resistant glass tubing that has been hermetically sealed with a heavy steel clamp. The preservative solution keeps the items in suspended animation, but since most of them are organic, they are gradually fading and decomposing. This is a kind of still life that is not in stasis, but changes over time. Eventually, all that will be left of the preserved material is debris at the bottom of the tubing, with only a photograph to show what the sculpture originally looked like.
"Waterlily with Two Red Glasses" "Red Apples"
"Water Lilies # 52" "Water Lilies #2"
His chandeliers are probably my favorite out of all of his work. I would love to own one at some point, but I'll probably have better luck just trying to make one myself. The one shown here is displayed at Grand Central Station in New York, but there are others out there in vineyard cellars, museums and the such. It was made with the help of the artificial tree guru, Jonquil LaMaster. The roots system is covered in gold leaf and meets the trunk in a flourish of acanthus leaves. The branches are made of polymer resin imprinted with real olive branches for texture and then adorned with over 5,000 Austrian crystals.
This last picture is a computer generated image of an upcoming piece.