John Van Alstine
John Van Alstine is an American sculptor living and working in Wells, NY in the Adirondack region of New York State, best known for stone and metal abstract sculptures exhibiting exceptional balance and poise. The works are often multi level with references to the figure, classical, nautical, celestial and western mythological themes. On the most basic level, his work is about the marriage of natural with the human made. Stone is used as an assemblage method the way a welder uses steel, rather than in the traditional manner of subtraction.
In contrast to the timelessness of stone, the found-object metal is very time-specific ?20th century industrial. Structural characteristics in Van Alstine’s sculptures are employed to physically connect or suspend the stone elements. The strength of the metal allows “choreographing” and “floating” of the earthbound stone.
During the span of his more than 35 year career his central theme has been the exploration of motion and balance through the natural forces of gravity and inertia in monumental, large scale and smaller works located in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America. He has participated in more than 80 solo and group exhibitions.
Van Alstine has won numerous awards, fellowships, grants and citations from the Pollack-Krasner Foundation, Gottlieb Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, the Yaddo Fellowship, the Louis C. Tiffany Foundation, New Jersey Council of the Arts and most recently the Merit Award in Beijing for his construction of a large-scale public sculpture in the Olympic Park Garden. He is recognized as a leading artist of his generation emerging from the tradition of David Smith, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson, Kenneth Snelson and Mark diSuvero.
Van Alstine’s works are in many major museums, institutions, public and private collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburg, Corcoran Gallery of Art Washington D.C., Dallas Museum of Art, Denver Museum of Art, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C., Museum of Fine Arts Houston, National Museum of American Art, Newark Museum, Newark, NJ and the Phillips Collection Washington D.C. Overseas his work is in the collections of Tsinghua University Museum Garden Beijing, Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon, Beijing Olympic Park Collection 2008, and in the U.S. Department of State “Art in Embassies” collections in Bolivia, Chile, Jamaica and Nepal.
Since 1970s, his sculpture has been reviewed in several publications such as the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, USA Today, New York Times, Art in America, Art Forum, Art News and Sculpture Magazine. “John Van Alstine has created an ambitious body of remarkably interrelated outdoor and indoor sculptures, site-specific installations, public art projects and drawings. His prolific and consistently engaging output, ranging in size from small and delicate to vast and monumental, has earned the artist a reputation as one of America’s most important sculptors of the late 20th” and 21st century, according to Nick Capasso, curator of DeCordova Museum near Boston.
In 2000, Grayson Publishing Co. published a mid-career survey entitled “Bones of the Earth, Spirit of the Land” connecting Van Alstine’s sculptures, drawings, photographs and large-scale works to the landscape in the Western U.S. and Adirondacks. It was based on an extensive interview conducted by Sculpture Magazine editor Glenn Harper with an accompanying essay by DeCordova curator.