An original member of the group of sculptors known as the “New Generation” who formed the avant-garde of British sculpture after World War II, Isaac Witkin was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and studied with Anthony Caro at St. Martin’s School of Art in London in the late fifties. After teaching and exhibiting in Britain, he traveled to the United States to take up an artist’s residency at Bennington College, where he stayed on, in company with Caro and other former St. Martin’s sculptors, for many years. In 1965 his work was featured in the seminal Primary Structures exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York.
During the sixties and seventies, Witkin’s Constructivist assemblages gradually began to take on new volumes in an attempt to break out of what he perceived as the formulaic quality of modernist sculpture. In the late seventies the artist’s breakthrough came in his “Spill” series, which incorporated the accidental shapes of large stainless-steel “spills,” the circles left over from steelmaking. He resumed working in bronze, pouring the molten metal directly into shaped sand to produce forms that were far more spontaneous than traditional cast sculpture.
In his work from the late eighties onward, Witkin has pursued two distinctive approaches to bronze sculpture. His small hallucinatory poured works have a fantastic, expressive quality, while his monumentally scaled sculptures are cast and joined together in a centuries-old tradition.
National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)
Internationally renowned sculptor Isaac Witkin was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1936. He attended the St. Martin’s School of Art in London, where he developed a passion for sculpture. After graduating in 1960, he apprenticed under famed British sculptor Henry Moore, before striking out on his own as an independent artist. Witkin eventually moved to the United States, where his works were recognized by art critic Clement Greenberg. Greenberg’s validation of Witkin’s sculpture afforded him national recognition, and over the years the artist was the recipient of many awards, including first prize in the 1965 Paris Biennale and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981. During the course of his career, Witkin also taught at Bennington College, Philadelphia College of Art, and New York’s Parsons School of Design.