Lot 61: John Kearney, Bison Bull, Steel Sculpture, 1977

Auctionata Paddle8 AG

October 20, 2016
Berlin, Germany

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Description: Sculpture made of chrome-plated steel elements, welded
John Kearney (1924-2014) – American sculpture
Monogramed ‘JK’ and dated ‘77’ burned into the right hindquarters
Dimensions: c. 100 x 65 x 150 cm
Provenance: Private collection, Lower Saxony, acquired directly from the artist
Typical animal sculpture of the artist who uses old bumpers for his work

The curved shapes of chrome-plated car parts that served John Kearney as a starting material for this sculpture of a bison bull, make the strength and muscularity of the animal perceptible. Simultaneously, the shiny chrome plating mitigates the massive gravity of the work.


The steel sculpture bears signs of age, which are beyond the material-related traces that likely had originally been present. The chrome-plating of the steel elements is corroded and has completely peeled-off in some places. The steel bears partly minor dot-like traces of rust but is in some parts entirely rusted through. Additionally, the work is slightly soiled due to the open-air installation. The overall condition is good, consistent with age and material.

John Kearney (1924-2014)

Born in Omaha in Nebraska, John Kearney studied from 1945 to 1948 at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, and then received a scholarship to study in Italy. Together with other artists Kearney founded in 1949 the Contemporary Art Workshop in Chicago, a nonprofit institution dedicated to supporting artists, where he also taught until 2009. In the 1950s Kearney discovered steel car bumpers in a garbage dump and began to create the large figurative sculptures, for which he became famous in the following decades. Preferentially representing animals, they dominate the public space in Chicago, but are also to find in museums and collections across America. (fea)

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