Surrational Zeus

  • Herbert Ferber, Surrational Zeus, 1947, bronze, Smithsonian American Art Museum, © Estate of Herbert Ferber, Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment, 2011.4

New Acquisition Label
In 2008, Norman Kleeblatt, chief curator at the Jewish Museum in New York City, wrote in his major exhibition catalogue Action/Abstraction: Pollock, de Kooning, and American Art, 1940--1976 that Surrational Zeus "epitomizes the surreal, figural and mythic orientation of most postwar efforts" in abstract expressionist sculpture. Ferber created the sculpture in 1947 after he moved from the conservative Midtown Galleries to the vanguard gallery run by Betty Parsons, where he came in close contact with Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock, and Clyfford Still, who were creating art related to the abstract expressionist movement in painting. Ferber's work was very much a part of this postwar transition from illusionistic presentation to the creation of works with a presence of their own, without reference to any particular subject, pursued by sculptors like David Smith, Theodore Roszak, Ibram Lassaw, David Hare, and Seymour Lipton. The title Surrational Zeus was given to the piece after the fact by a poet friend of the Ferbers, as was fitting for the times and the expressionist movement. This bronze cast of Surrational Zeus is one of two made by the artist in the 1950s; the other is in the permanent collection at The Jewish Museum in New York City.

New Acquisitions

Surrational Zeus
On View
Not on view.
51 x 30 x 27 in. (129.5 x 76.2 x 68.6 cm)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Museum purchase through the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment

Mediums Description
  • Mythology – classical – Zeus
Object Number
Linked Open Data
Linked Open Data URI

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