To enter Cliff Garten’s Venice studio is to encounter a visual dialectic of public and private that speaks to our times. On one wall is Being and Home, an impressive suite of 10 independent sculptures depicting living creatures, all meticulously rendered in different materials; on the other wall are images of the artist’s large-scale, collaborative public projects, designed with his three-person team.
Being and Home is the first figurative work that Garten has completed in 15 years of public art. The title
identifies a quest to manifest a philosophy of sculpture in an age of diminishing resources. However personal the process, the installation draws the observer into more universal concerns, speaking to the destruction of nature, even as it recalls the ancient practice of sacred geometry as a means of instilling manmade forms with the harmonic vibrations of nature.
Though Garten’s public and private works appear widely divergent, they are corollaries, exploring similar ideas and concerns. His approach to public sculpture seeks to fuse functional requirement with aesthetic desire. By connecting people to places through design, social history, and ecology, his public sculptures locate the latent potential within the public realm.