"All his art, his light works and his animals, his sculptures, and his drawings, pay homage to the cycles of the natural, to energy and time." - Paul Richard, The Washington Post, 1978
Birthdays, Whales and Debts
The Art of Rockne Krebs: Harnessing the Energies of Personal Experience
“Rockne Krebs shares with poets and playwrights the knowledge that it is better to give heroes some human blemishes if they are to be thoroughly believable.
Let it be said, however, that the footnotes are first-rate. The exhibition is extremely interesting to anyone with a prior knowledge of Krebs’ major works for the light that it sheds on them. It also stands quite well on its own. Anyone for whom this show serves as an introduction is sure to emerge wanting to see and know more about the artist and the art.
THE FOOTNOTE here is a piece from 1943 -- Krebs again, is 39 years old – and it is a neat little thing, a hippopotamus that formed part of a zoo the four-year-old Krebs made for himself. To actually put it into a serious gallery exhibition would be sheer indulgence if the little hippo did not establish a mood of personal, and not altogether happy, reverie that Krebs apparently wanted for this off-beat little show.
The ape is a beguiling, touching piece of art, a farcical plastic relief of the kind you can buy in souvenir-novelty shops, transformed by the artist into an expressive personal souvenir with brushstrokes of flecked day-glo paints, a rhinestone tear in the eye, and a tiny 3-D heart cut from Plexiglas.
These sorts of connections help to make clear Krebs’s belief that art and life are inseparable at heart, that art depends in no small measure upon harnessing and transforming the energies of personal experience. Indeed, the principal point of this show may be to enable us to see Krebs’s work whole, to unite in our minds the apparently contradictory poles of his art.
The piece is very appealing. It manages to be simultaneously simple and complicated, ordinary, and unusual, factual and imaginative, serious and ironic, personal and universal. These are qualities that adhere, in very different ways, to his city-structures, which are commonly appreciated as sheer spectacle or as technological feats, but which actually are much more.
“Home on the Range” is the title Krebs has given to an entire series of these anti-heroic pieces over the past seven years, in the last two (at the New York Customs House last fall and in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1976) he has begun to incorporate them into the structure of his large-scale works. Bringing the two together has not been an easy process, intellectually or formally, but by doing it, by letting the human blemishes show, Krebs has enriched his art immeasurably. This show is a priceless-documentation of the ups and downs the artist has experienced along the way.”
Rockne Krebs and Sam Gilliam’s studio, 1970
“I had the great pleasure to be Rockne and Sam’s studio mate in the mid to late 70s. Furthermore, my studio was the middle floor between them. Rockne was on the large expansive space on the bottom floor, with all the windows covered so it was always setup for the immediacy of his light experiments with lenses, smoke, and lasers. I remember the striking glint of reflected/refracted light that came from the part of the studio where he stored the Pi-Flower series of plexi-resin works. Sam was on the top floor with brilliant light filled walls with hundreds of feet of sopping wet canvas strung through the light-filled space…in various states of drying and recombination. Being in the middle floor meant that I had access to both artists…through their brilliance and the vernacular of each day. It was a great 5-year immersion for me as a young artist, one that has stayed with me throughout my life.”
“Rockne Krebs was a multi-disciplinary artist known for his
Birthdays, Whales and Debts
"Rockne Krebs’ exhibit, now at Fraser’s Stable, is quirky, moving, and unfamiliar. It includes neither lines of laser light, glowing planes of Plexiglas, nor slowly marching sunbeams. This exhibition is, instead, Rockne Krebs’ self-portrait.
The oldest work on view, a hippo made of clay, was done when he
He did not have it easy. Even when most polished, his art is never slick. He is no pencil prodigy, he struggles when he draws. His work, though often troubled, is at all times honest.
All fine artists show us what they feel must be seen. Krebs is freer with his feelings now than he ever has been, but his motives have not changed. All his art, his light works and his animals, his sculptures, and his drawings, pay homage to the cycles of the natural, to energy and time.”
Photos © Rockne Krebs Art Trust/Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York, NY
Commentary on the Art of Rockne Krebs
- Rockne Krebs
- Urban-Scale Laser Sculptures
- Public Art
- Drawings, Studies and Prints
- Rockne Krebs Books by Carol Harrison
- Timeline (in progress)
- Biography - Commissions
- Bibliography - Books & Exhibition Catalogues
- Commentary on the Art of Rockne Krebs
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- Rockne Krebs Gallery Shop
All Images © 2023 Rockne Krebs Art Trust / Licensed by VAGA at ARS, New York, NY / Photographs are not to be downloaded or reproduced without license from VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS) / Researched and archived by H. Krebs /
Website created by H. Krebs / Published: 2012 Updated: December 2, 2023