Pole Sculptures

Jud Fine
Pole Sculptures
Mixed media, 1981
105 x 2 inches diameter (each)
Gift of Ruth and Murray Gribin
2001.010.062

Jud Fine’s arrangements of multiple 8-feet-9-inches-tall poles leaning in a row against a wall, each one modified at 12- to 18-inch intervals through a variety of techniques—painting, collaging, incising, puncturing, binding, gilding, etc.—to create a cluster of concrete nonverbal narrative modules whose linearity derives entirely from the linear form of the poles themselves. The interpretive impulse is thwarted by the apparently arbitrary shifts in visual language, which only occasionally includes legible pictographic content. The idea of a narrative is further reinforced by the poles’ arrangement in a regularly spaced sequence—arrayed like a group of intercepted fiber-optic transmissions from some techno-shamanic alien civilization. Additional layers of categorical confusion are rendered by the poles’ uneasy relationship to the conventions of both painting and sculpture. Arranged to suggest the rectangular form of a painting, the pole surfaces could, in theory, be spread out flat; yet they are emphatically—if incorrectly—engaged with gravity, and their objecthood, though flirting with a resemblance to anthropological artifacts, is never in doubt.