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ARTHUR KERN

Art is about things of which we cannot speak.

- Arthur Kern

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Arthur Kern Silent Myth  (detail), 2006

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth  (detail), 2006
NFS (not for sale)
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

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Arthur Kern Clown Stumpy

Arthur Kern
Clown Stumpy
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

Inquire
Arthur Kern Silent Myth II, 2008

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth II, 2008
NFS (not for sale)
polychromed resin
87h x 26w x 88d in

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Arthur Kern Dance on Trigger

Arthur Kern
Dance on Trigger
polychromed resin
11h x 17w x 9d in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern Ring One Streaker

Arthur Kern
Ring One Streaker
polychromed resin
15h x 14.50w x 7d in

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Arthur Kern Circus II

Arthur Kern
Circus II
polychromed resin
98h x 36w in

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Arthur Kern Remember Papa's Accident (detail)

Arthur Kern
Remember Papa's Accident (detail)
polychromed resin

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Arthur Kern Remember Papa's Accident

Arthur Kern
Remember Papa's Accident
polychromed resin

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Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

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Arthur Kern Annarex

Arthur Kern
Annarex
polychromed resin

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Arthur Kern Auntie Who

Arthur Kern
Auntie Who
polychromed resin
11h in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern Sunday Cruise

Arthur Kern
Sunday Cruise
polychromed resin
12h in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern Warrior's Wife

Arthur Kern
Warrior's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

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Arthur Kern Red

Arthur Kern
Red
polychromed resin
10h in

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Arthur Kern The Passage

Arthur Kern
The Passage
polychromed resin
SOLD

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Arthur Kern Once

Arthur Kern
Once
polychromed resin
10h in

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Arthur Kern Reine Volante

Arthur Kern
Reine Volante
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern The Duchess

Arthur Kern
The Duchess
polychromed resin
11h in

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Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

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Arthur Kern Top This

Arthur Kern
Top This
polychromed resin

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Arthur Kern Davey Jones Wife

Arthur Kern
Davey Jones Wife
polychromed resin
7h in

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Arthur Kern Aerial Fire Horse

Arthur Kern
Aerial Fire Horse
polychromed resin
11h in

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Arthur Kern Warrior II

Arthur Kern
Warrior II
polychromed resin
12h in

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Arthur Kern Humpty's Wife

Arthur Kern
Humpty's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

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Arthur Kern Marna Left

Arthur Kern
Marna Left
polychromed resin
13h in

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Arthur Kern Silent Myth  (detail), 2006

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth  (detail), 2006
NFS (not for sale)
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

Arthur Kern Clown Stumpy

Arthur Kern
Clown Stumpy
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

Arthur Kern Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

Arthur Kern Silent Myth II, 2008

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth II, 2008
NFS (not for sale)
polychromed resin
87h x 26w x 88d in

Arthur Kern Dance on Trigger

Arthur Kern
Dance on Trigger
polychromed resin
11h x 17w x 9d in
SOLD

Arthur Kern Ring One Streaker

Arthur Kern
Ring One Streaker
polychromed resin
15h x 14.50w x 7d in

Arthur Kern Circus II

Arthur Kern
Circus II
polychromed resin
98h x 36w in

Arthur Kern Remember Papa's Accident (detail)

Arthur Kern
Remember Papa's Accident (detail)
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern Remember Papa's Accident

Arthur Kern
Remember Papa's Accident
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Arthur Kern Annarex

Arthur Kern
Annarex
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern Auntie Who

Arthur Kern
Auntie Who
polychromed resin
11h in
SOLD

Arthur Kern Sunday Cruise

Arthur Kern
Sunday Cruise
polychromed resin
12h in
SOLD

Arthur Kern Warrior's Wife

Arthur Kern
Warrior's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

Arthur Kern Red

Arthur Kern
Red
polychromed resin
10h in

Arthur Kern The Passage

Arthur Kern
The Passage
polychromed resin
SOLD

Arthur Kern Once

Arthur Kern
Once
polychromed resin
10h in

Arthur Kern Reine Volante

Arthur Kern
Reine Volante
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

Arthur Kern The Duchess

Arthur Kern
The Duchess
polychromed resin
11h in

Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Arthur Kern Top This

Arthur Kern
Top This
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern Davey Jones Wife

Arthur Kern
Davey Jones Wife
polychromed resin
7h in

Arthur Kern Aerial Fire Horse

Arthur Kern
Aerial Fire Horse
polychromed resin
11h in

Arthur Kern Warrior II

Arthur Kern
Warrior II
polychromed resin
12h in

Arthur Kern Humpty's Wife

Arthur Kern
Humpty's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

Arthur Kern Marna Left

Arthur Kern
Marna Left
polychromed resin
13h in

In his first commercial gallery exhibition in more than four decades, artist Arthur Kern presents a suite of hauntingly lyrical cast-resin sculptures, dazzling in their technical mastery and thematic sophistication.  While Kern’s subject matter has spanned a broad range over the course of his career, this exhibition gathers together his equestrian sculptures, a genre whose elemental forms recall Etruscan statuary, Greco-Roman bas-relief, and the modernist panache of Marino Marini—all channeled through Kern’s profoundly individualistic sensibility.  “There’s such a history between humans and horses,” he reflects.  “Not only have they gotten us from one place to another, they’ve also worked our fields, fought our wars, and done so much of our work.  There’s a richness in that relationship.”  The exhibition’s two life-sized works and many smaller pieces explore this symbiosis while encapsulating Kern’s aesthetic, which curator Herman Mhire calls “at once poetic, sublime, disturbing, magnetic, and beautiful.”

Born 90 years ago in New Orleans, the sculptor has a unique backstory, which has captured art-lovers’ imaginations.  After earning his B.F.A. and M.F.A. degrees in painting from Tulane University in the mid-1950s and studying privately at the McCrady Art School on Bourbon Street, he was featured in solo shows at Ruth White Gallery in New York City and was curated into a 1962 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.  Despite these successes, he found himself called by a different siren—sculpture—and in 1967 took the dramatic step of setting his remaining paintings ablaze in a bonfire, dedicating his remaining years to three-dimensional work.  He also radically distanced himself from the financial and social pressures of the art market, working alone in his studio off Tchoupitoulas Street and avoiding exhibiting for the better part of forty years.  (Notable exceptions were his inclusion in the 1984 Louisiana World’s Exhibition in New Orleans and a 1996 solo show at the Hilliard Art Museum, University of Louisiana at Lafayette.)  Creating work solely for his own eyes allowed his artistic voice to develop with complete independence, organicism, and integrity.  Still, his withdrawal from the art scene enveloped him in an aura of mystery, even as he “hid in plain sight,” teaching painting and drawing at the University of Southwest Louisiana and Tulane from the late 1960s through the late 1990s.

In 2016 he reemerged with Arthur Kern:  The Surreal World of a Reclusive Sculptor at Ogden Museum of Southern Art, curated by John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.  This revelatory show caused a sensation and earned praise in publications including The New York Times (“exquisite...  surreal...  striking...”), The New York Review (“...a mesmerizing show...”), and The Advocate (“...a thrilling sense of discovery...  a singular artist whose work deserves to be much better known...”)  Critics were fascinated by his challenging symbolic imagery, unique materials, and time- and labor-intensive process of casting wax molds with a highly responsive polyester resin.  This technique, which he adapted from the ancient lost-wax method of casting bronze, allows wax to be used much like clay, imparting a suppleness of expression that evokes Kern’s favorite historical sculptor, Auguste Rodin.  Chromatically, the equestrian series’s intricately nuanced surfaces result from myriad layers of translucent lacquers, applied as a patina.

The sculptures to be presented at Callan Contemporary are one-of-a-kind, not editions, and range across the length of Kern’s career.  The smaller pieces are bravura variations on a single original form, their surfaces alternately textural or preternaturally smooth, like marble or alabaster.  Although critics have placed these artworks in the lineages of Surrealism, postmodernism, and steampunk, the artist himself feels they spring from a syntax of “my own myths,” which bubble forth from the unconscious.  “More than one person has told me they think my work is about dichotomies,” he relates, “and I tend to agree...  Another thing I think influences my sculpture is philosophy, especially Zen Buddhism and the Existentialist idea that existence precedes thought.  I feel like the sculpture is an idea that I create as I’m working on it.  To have a fully conceived idea before I start a piece would seem wrong to me.  I like to explore and be surprised by what I find along the way.”

- by Richard Speer

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Thumb-Show Thumbnails
Arthur Kern, Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern

Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

AK042

Inquire
Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Inquire
Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Inquire
Arthur Kern 207 Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006

Arthur Kern
207 Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

Inquire
Arthur Kern Silent Myth II NFS, 2008

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth II NFS, 2008
polychromed resin
87h x 26w x 88d in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 203 Circus II

Arthur Kern
203 Circus II
polychromed resin
98h x 36w in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 262 Dance on Trigger

Arthur Kern
262 Dance on Trigger
polychromed resin
11h x 17w x 9d in
SOLD

Inquire
Arthur Kern 200 Ring One Streaker

Arthur Kern
200 Ring One Streaker
polychromed resin
15h x 14.50w x 7d in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 205 Remember Papa's Accident (detail)

Arthur Kern
205 Remember Papa's Accident (detail)
polychromed resin

Inquire
Arthur Kern 206 Annarex

Arthur Kern
206 Annarex
polychromed resin

Inquire
Arthur Kern 267 Sunday Cruise

Arthur Kern
267 Sunday Cruise
polychromed resin
12h x 13.50w x 4d in
SOLD

Inquire
Arthur Kern 205 Remember Papa's Accident

Arthur Kern
205 Remember Papa's Accident
polychromed resin

Inquire
Arthur Kern 214 Warrior's Wife

Arthur Kern
214 Warrior's Wife
polychromed resin
12h x 11.50w x 4d in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 268 Auntie Who

Arthur Kern
268 Auntie Who
polychromed resin
13h x 11w x 5d in
SOLD

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Arthur Kern 210 Clown Stumpy

Arthur Kern
210 Clown Stumpy
polychromed resin
13h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 218 Red

Arthur Kern
218 Red
polychromed resin
10h in

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Arthur Kern 211 Warrior II

Arthur Kern
211 Warrior II
polychromed resin
12h in

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Arthur Kern 213 Aerial Fire Horse

Arthur Kern
213 Aerial Fire Horse
polychromed resin
11h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 270 The Passage

Arthur Kern
270 The Passage
polychromed resin
 

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Arthur Kern 229 Humpty's Wife

Arthur Kern
229 Humpty's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 269 The Duchess

Arthur Kern
269 The Duchess
polychromed resin
11h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 223 Marna Left

Arthur Kern
223 Marna Left
polychromed resin
13h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 215 Davey Jones Wife

Arthur Kern
215 Davey Jones Wife
polychromed resin
7h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 201 Once

Arthur Kern
201 Once
polychromed resin
10h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 219 God's Blunder

Arthur Kern
219 God's Blunder
polychromed resin
11h in

Inquire
Arthur Kern 209 Reine Volante

Arthur Kern
209 Reine Volante
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

Inquire
Arthur Kern 204 Top This

Arthur Kern
204 Top This
polychromed resin

Inquire
Arthur Kern, Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern

Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

AK042

Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Arthur Kern Gallery View, 2022

Arthur Kern
Gallery View, 2022
Callan Contemporary

Arthur Kern 207 Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006

Arthur Kern
207 Silent Myth NFS (not for sale), 2006
polychromed resin
87h x 88w x 26d in

Arthur Kern Silent Myth II NFS, 2008

Arthur Kern
Silent Myth II NFS, 2008
polychromed resin
87h x 26w x 88d in

Arthur Kern 203 Circus II

Arthur Kern
203 Circus II
polychromed resin
98h x 36w in

Arthur Kern 262 Dance on Trigger

Arthur Kern
262 Dance on Trigger
polychromed resin
11h x 17w x 9d in
SOLD

Arthur Kern 200 Ring One Streaker

Arthur Kern
200 Ring One Streaker
polychromed resin
15h x 14.50w x 7d in

Arthur Kern 205 Remember Papa's Accident (detail)

Arthur Kern
205 Remember Papa's Accident (detail)
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern 206 Annarex

Arthur Kern
206 Annarex
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern 267 Sunday Cruise

Arthur Kern
267 Sunday Cruise
polychromed resin
12h x 13.50w x 4d in
SOLD

Arthur Kern 205 Remember Papa's Accident

Arthur Kern
205 Remember Papa's Accident
polychromed resin

Arthur Kern 214 Warrior's Wife

Arthur Kern
214 Warrior's Wife
polychromed resin
12h x 11.50w x 4d in

Arthur Kern 268 Auntie Who

Arthur Kern
268 Auntie Who
polychromed resin
13h x 11w x 5d in
SOLD

Arthur Kern 210 Clown Stumpy

Arthur Kern
210 Clown Stumpy
polychromed resin
13h in

Arthur Kern 218 Red

Arthur Kern
218 Red
polychromed resin
10h in

Arthur Kern 211 Warrior II

Arthur Kern
211 Warrior II
polychromed resin
12h in

Arthur Kern 213 Aerial Fire Horse

Arthur Kern
213 Aerial Fire Horse
polychromed resin
11h in

Arthur Kern 270 The Passage

Arthur Kern
270 The Passage
polychromed resin
 

Arthur Kern 229 Humpty's Wife

Arthur Kern
229 Humpty's Wife
polychromed resin
12h in

Arthur Kern 269 The Duchess

Arthur Kern
269 The Duchess
polychromed resin
11h in

Arthur Kern 223 Marna Left

Arthur Kern
223 Marna Left
polychromed resin
13h in

Arthur Kern 215 Davey Jones Wife

Arthur Kern
215 Davey Jones Wife
polychromed resin
7h in

Arthur Kern 201 Once

Arthur Kern
201 Once
polychromed resin
10h in

Arthur Kern 219 God's Blunder

Arthur Kern
219 God's Blunder
polychromed resin
11h in

Arthur Kern 209 Reine Volante

Arthur Kern
209 Reine Volante
polychromed resin
13h in
SOLD

Arthur Kern 204 Top This

Arthur Kern
204 Top This
polychromed resin