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First Comprehensive Exhibition of Works by Daniel Brush, Including Paintings, Sculptures, and Objects of Wonder, Opens at MAD This October

Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light Presents Four Decades of Brush’s Art, From Large-Scale Paintings and Drawings, to Gold and Steel Sculpture and Jewelry

New York, NY (August 8, 2012)

Over the past 40 years, Daniel Brush has created an oeuvre unparalleled in contemporary American art—from large-scale painted canvases to gold-domed containers encrusted with gold granules so miniscule they must be fused with microscopic precision. Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light, opening October 16, 2012, brings together for the first time works from throughout Brush’s career, including examples of his poetic paintings and drawings, a selection of his most significant steel and gold wall sculptures, jewelry made from plastic, aluminum, steel, and precious gems, and some of his earliest gold-granulated objects. The exhibition will be installed on MAD’s second-floor galleries—the first time a single living artist has commanded that entire floor, which includes the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery—and will remain on view until February 24, 2013.

“Captivated by materials, obsessive about process, Daniel epitomizes the creative concerns of the Museum of Arts and Design, and so it is fitting that our museum is the first to explore the range and depth of his creative production,” said Holly Hotchner, MAD's Nanette L. Laitman Director. “Because of the singular way Daniel lives and works, most of his art goes directly from his studio to private collections, and we believe it deserves to be seen by a much larger public. This holistic presentation of his artistic vision will make for a landmark exhibition―a revealing first look at an artist who defies categorization.”

Left: Gold Heart, 2003. Steel, pure gold. 3 1/8 x 3 15/16 x 1 1⁄4 inches. Right: Detail of Compilation of an Edifying Journey, 2011. Ink on paper. Ten parts, each 8 9/16 x 6 1/4 inches.Curated by David McFadden, MAD’s William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator, Blue Steel Gold Light showcases more than 100 works of art, bringing to light for the first time the complete oeuvre of an artist who has been fiercely reclusive for the entirety of his career. Brush began in the 1970s, creating large- scale paintings and works on paper. He taught himself the ancient Etruscan technique of gold granulation and began working in gold, steel, and jewels, as a diversion from the intellectual intensity of his paintings. Today, painting, sculpture, and jewelry share equal weight in Brush’s creative output, inspired and informed by the artist’s far-ranging interests and intellectual pursuits, which include Noh drama, the history of jewels, Jazz, mysticism and world religions, the Renaissance and 18th-century art of lathe turning, and the molecular structure of metal alloys.

“Daniel is a visionary, a sort of 21st-century Benvenuto Cellini,” said McFadden. “His studies and passions, combined with a perfect transparency of skill, transform mute materials into radiant works imbued with a timeless voice.”

All of Brush’s work is created by the artist himself—he has never employed studio assistants. His materials range from pure gold and colored diamonds, to stainless steel and massive sheets of heavy paper. Regardless of medium, his practice is defined by intense study and reflection combined with intricacy and precision, and by arduous and demanding techniques that include hand-sculpting steel with a chisel or setting a series of .7mm diamonds in a thread of stainless steel. He is considered to be the undisputed master of granulation, the most difficult and mysterious of all goldsmithing techniques.

Embracing the full arc of Brush’s career, with works dating from the 1970s through the present day, the exhibition at MAD will include:

a selection of Brush’s large paintings and drawings, linear and abstract works inspired by the disciplines of the Noh theater, that resemble delicate written passages or abstract calligraphic lines scribed over and over across a broad surface;

sculptures and three-dimensional works, including delicate granulated gold domes in the tradition of the ancient goldsmiths, jewel-encrusted objects, and gold and steel sculptures, some only a few inches high;

his most recent wall pieces in blued steel and pure gold, which engage the ambient light to cast golden shadows;

tablets in stainless steel, which are hand-engraved with thousands of rhythmic lines, that refract the light--visual poems that record the passage of time;

unorthodox witty animal brooches made from plastic, steel, and diamonds; an installation of one work of 176 stainless steel “threads” set by hand with tiny diamonds and

inspired by the textile work of Brush’s wife, Olivia.

Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light will be accompanied by a digital visual presentation by photographer Wesley Stringer, titled Portrait of the Artist, installed in MAD’s second floor gallery. The exhibition will also be accompanied by a major illustrated monograph on Brush, published by the Museum of Arts and Design, distributed by D.A.P. in the United States and Damiani in Europe, and designed and photographed by renowned graphic designer Takaaki Matsumoto.


Painter, sculptor, and craftsman, Daniel Brush has developed a rigorous personal aesthetic marked by its intellectual and emotional force, mastery of techniques, and the science of materials. Over the course of his 40-year career, he has created a body of idiosyncratic, contemplative work in gold, steel, and on canvas and paper, the product of solitary thought, study, and experimentation.

During the 1970s, while he was a tenured professor in the department of art at Georgetown University, Brush’s large-scale paintings and drawings became the subject of two solo exhibitions in Washington, D.C.: at the Phillips Collection (1974) and at the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1977). Since then, Brush has represented the United States in international competitions that included the International Festival of Contemporary Drawing at the Grand Palais Paris, France, and his work has been the subject of several solo museum exhibitions, including a major showing of his gold and precious metal pieces at the Renwick Gallery of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution in 1998. Additional presentations

of his sculptures and paintings have been shown at the Lannan Foundation, the Arkansas Art Museum, the Des Moines Art Center, and the University of Massachusetts Art Gallery at Amherst. Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light at the Museum of Arts and Design is the first exhibition to comprehensively review the full spectrum of his creative output.

Brush’s work is in the public collections of the American Art Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Phillips Collection, and the Victoria & Albert Museum, among others. It has also been acquired for several important private and royal collections, including the Royal family of The Netherlands, the Royal family of Thailand, Sadruddin Aga Khan, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Sheikh Saud Mohammed Al-Thani, Kazumi Arikawa, Agnes Gund, Paula Cussi, and the House of Van Cleef & Arpels and the House of Boucheron. Major publications on Brush’s work include Gold without Boundaries (Harry N. Abrams, 1998), and Thirty Years Work (Steidl, 2007), and Red Breathing: Cantos for the Women Plays (Steidl, 2008).

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1947, Brush received his BFA degree in 1969 from Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, and his MFA degree in 1971 from the University of Southern California, where he was awarded the Charles K. Archer fellowship. He lives and works with his wife in New York City.


Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light is organized by the Museum of Arts and Design and curated by David Revere McFadden, the William and Mildred Lasdon Chief Curator.

Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light is made possible through the generous support of Siegelson, New York, with additional support from Christie's, Van Cleef & Arpels, Fiona and Stanley Druckenmiller, an anonymous collector, and a group of private collectors.


Daniel Brush: Blue Steel Gold Light will be accompanied by an illustrated full-color monograph, published by the Museum of Arts and Design and distributed by D.A.P. in the United States and Damiani in Europe. Designed and photographed by the internationally renowned graphic designer Takaaki Matsumoto, the monograph features essays by contributors from the worlds of art, poetry, criticism, and science, including neurologist and writer Dr. Oliver Sacks, curators Brett Littman and David Revere McFadden, poet Saskia Hamilton, and editor Paul Keegan.


The Museum of Arts and Design explores the blur zone between art, design, and craft today. The Museum focuses on contemporary creativity and the ways in which artists and designers from around the world transform materials through processes ranging from the artisanal to digital. The Museum's exhibition program explores and illuminates issues and ideas, highlights creativity and craftsmanship, and celebrates the limitless potential of materials and techniques when used by gifted and innovative artists. MAD's permanent collection is global in scope and focuses on art, craft, and design from 1950 to the present day. At the center of the Museum's mission is education. The Museum's dynamic new facility features classrooms and studios for master classes, seminars, and workshops for students, families, and adults. Three open artist studios engage visitors in the creative processes of artists at work and enhance the exhibition programs. Lectures, films, performances, and symposia related to the Museum's collection and topical subjects affecting the world of contemporary art, craft, and design are held in a renovated 144-seat auditorium.


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