Witnesses

Witnesses

GEORGE MATHISEN

George Mathisen was born in the Czech Republic on June 4,1936, and graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Prague in 1964. His chosen field was environmental sculpture and his works soon became constituent parts of modern architectural units such as the Planetarium of the City of Prague and several national cultural centers.

    

Recognizing the limitations imposed upon the artist in his country under the totalitarian system, he defected in 1968 and spent a year in Italy and Germany. In 1969 he came to the United states and settled in New York City. Sensitive to the qualities inherent in a variety of materials, he enjoyed exploring the options offered by the traditional wood and stone, as well as by the contemporary materials such as acrylic, polyester and welded or cast metals.

   

Eventually, his outdoor sculptures required a larger space and in 1976 George and his wife Magda, a

painter, bought and remodeled an old dairy farm in Sharon, CT, which offered more than 2,000 square feet of space for both artist’s work, particularly for George’s monumental pieces in Cor-Ten and steel.

    A new commission to create a group of Czech saints for the International Cathedral in Washington, D.C., enabled artist to assemble a foundry at the farm for sculptured cast in bronze. This material offered new possibilities and inspiration, and soon George moved toward the style that became his trademark. He combined his love of history and archaeology, underscored by his experience with the restoration of the old relics in Europe, with his own tendency to create bold geometric statements.

   

At the time, the local junk yard began to fill with the relics of a new kind, the discarded computer parts. As George explained in his 2004 interview for the Litchfield County Times: “By themselves the diverse parts appear to have no value. But when you get some idea, when you give them some purpose and form, they attain new worth. I like to combine different motifs, to put them together and explore the relationship of the past to the present… Some of my work is almost archaeological. There are layers of civilization.”

   

By incorporating the bronze relics from the past and the discards of our more recent history into his welded geometric forms, George achieved a dynamic synthesis of the expansive spirit of the modern age grounded in our ancient cultural heritage. These pieces found particular appreciation among institutions fostering the culture and education, such as schools, libraries and cultural centers.

    

George’s work has been included in collections in Europe, New York, Toronto, Atlanta and Chicago.