Important Fine Art and Aboriginal Art
30 November 2016


(1929 – 2005)

welded steel

198.0 x 48.0 x 45.5 cm

$60,000 – 80,000
Sold for $61,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 46 - 30 November 2016, Sydney

Estate of Audrey Deckoff, New York, USA
Private collection, USA
Skinner, Boston, 23 September 2016, lot 452
Company collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

A large-scale steel edifice jutting up towards the heavens, Through Way, 1965 is a key example of Clement Meadmore’s early outdoor sculpture, created soon after his migration to New York in 1963. This work was produced during critical crossroads in the artist’s career, a short-lived span of three years during which he devoted himself exclusively to rectilinear compositions. The artworks from this period were removed from Meadmore’s textured slab-plane constructions of the 1950s and still far from the curves that would come to represent his sculptural practice from 1966 onwards. Belonging to a series of five steel sculptures collectively titled Criss Cross, 1965 – comprising of Criss Cross, Overpass, Thick and Thin (sold as a group of three works), Through Way and another single sculpture, title unknown – Through Way is a unique and pure sculpture that perfectly embodies the stylistic and theoretical evolution of Meadmore’s oeuvre within the Modern art movements of the mid-twentieth century.

In Melbourne in the late 1950s, Meadmore founded the design-based Gallery A with Max Hutchinson as an interdisciplinary exhibition space modelled on the Weimar Bauhaus.1 The geometric rigour associated with Bauhaus seeped Meadmore’s sculptural works by the time he arrived in New York. Contrary to what one might imagine, Meadmore was not clearly influenced by Minimalist sculpture being practiced in New York at the time, he was instead inspired by the geometric lines of the early modern painter Piet Mondrian and the modernist impetus to push forms of art to their physical limits, as dictated by Clement Greenberg’s theory of Abstract Expressionist painting. Meadmore’s practice during these years underwent a process of purification. The resulting effortless physical grace belied his true labour-intensive process of conception and creation.

With simplified forms and a restricted formal vocabulary he varied only through slight adjustments in size and placement, Meadmore’s series of sculptures from 1965 have a commanding presence. Like various practitioners of Minimalist sculpture, Meadmore was particularly dedicated to the idea that his sculptures should be able to be viewed entirely and instantaneously from any single viewpoint. Eric Gibson writes of the inherent space-altering quality of these works from 1965, how they dominate the environment: ‘instead its relationship to space is more forceful and direct than any of his works heretofore. it occupies space rather than interacts with it’. 2

For all of its formal simplicity, the subtle differences in proportion and permutations of intersections between separate block-forms render these sculptures particularly thought-provoking. Through Way features two large rectangular prisms, the heights of which are perfectly divided in a ratio of 1 to 3. In between these two blocks is slotted a thin rectangular block – the physical equivalent of a pause, a breath, a musical rest.

1. McNamara, A. and Stephen, A., ‘The Story of the Sixties … A Pile-Up on the Freeway of Advanced Art’ in Anderson, J. (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Australian Art, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, 2011, p. 177
2. Gibson, E., The Sculpture of Clement Meadmore, Hudson Hills Press, New York City, 1994, p. 24