• Ibram Lassaw, Banquet, 1961, bronze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Harold Tager, Jr., 1975.48

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Banquet is built up of thousands of droplets of metal melted over thin rods that are joined by crumpled sheets of copper. The subtle variations in color come from alloys (phosphor bronze, silicon bronze, nickel-silver) and other metals that Lassaw treated with chemicals. The nubbly surface records a process of accretion that resembles stalagmites in underground caves or underwater coral structures that grow over time. Banquet reflects Lassaw’s belief that the universe is holistic—that cosmic and microcosmic, spirit and substance are one.

Modern Masters: Midcentury Abstraction from the Smithsonian American Art Museum, 2008

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Ibram Lassaw's sculptures resembling spiny sea forms were inspired by coral reefs, which he saw as "living sculptures." To create Banquet, he painstakingly added one drop of melted bronze to another, mimicking the natural growth of the coral. He then added different chemical patinas to give the work a variety of colors that evoke an underwater environment. Lassaw thought this piece "peculiar" because he normally created entirely abstract constructions that did not resemble anything. In the early 1960s, however, he started creating more representational works in response to the declining popularity of his work. (Ibram Lassaw Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution; Lassaw, "Perspectives and Reflections of a Sculptor: A Memoir," Leonardo, January 1968)

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"Banquet is one of my most original sculptures—peculiar to me and the style I am known best for—it really is me at my best." Ibram Lassaw, interview with Glenn Randall
Not on view
32 x 38 x 25 in. (81.2 x 96.4 x 63.5 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Gift of Harold Tager, Jr.

Mediums Description
  • Abstract
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