Keith Long

Born in 1940 in Chicago, lives and works in Paris and New York

Wall Sculptures – Paris, July 1993

Keith Long’s wall sculptures recall Mexican or Egyptian temples, African ritual objects, and are tongue-in-cheek allusions to that most commonplace aspect of contemporary western society, consumerism.

Take, for example, this splendid winged disk which could be slipped among the works of an archaeological museum – what is it made of? Chair rungs and semaphor rods carefully coated with clay and acrylic, prematurely endowing it with an age-old patina.

There’s a playful aspect to Keith Long’s choice of materials which merges with esthetics while adding an essential humorous note to the work.

Lélia Mordoch

Metamorphoses – Paris, March 2003

A form catches his eye in the streets of New York or Paris: a dismantled chair, a table leg, a branch drifting along the water, a log lying on the riverbank. Green Spiral. Keith Long picks up discarded objects thrown onto the shores of oblivion.

Forms surge forth from the back of his studio. It is fall, 1991, in New York. An Indian Summer is blowing over Central Park.The room is immensely long, on the same scale as some of his wall sculptures that are over two meters wide. His largest piece, two copper-clad mermaids, measures 2 x 5 meters, and is permanently installed in the McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago. The loft ends in french windows opening onto an iron fire escape wor thy of West Side Stor y. Long’s works are equally well-structured.

I still see them as imaginary archaeological vestiges arising from an age of ruins and temples devastated by desert sandstorms or torrential tropical rains. They are gateways to eternity. Long draws his inspiration from the roots of time.

Patinas befitting Mesopotamian temples, assemblages mixing warriors’ helmets and pyramids made of discarded wood with unknown destinies project us into the heart of genuinely timeless construction.

Long is an excellent draftsman. His travel sketchbooks are filled with landscapes and portraits, offering daily reports of other lands whose atmosphere we attempt to grasp, be it in Mongolia, Egypt or Mexico. Long draws at the speed of sound yet has opted for abstraction and devotes his efforts to wall sculpture.

Standing out against the wall like palimpsests, his sculptures offer ample scope for the imagination. Like the murals in the palace of Knossos, Long’s sculptures conjure up journeys in space and time, just as Hieronymus Bosch’s unbridled fantasy can be found in Magritte’s paintings.

Once the sculpture has been assembled with a synergy between handling and material, everything becomes clear.These simple, austere forms are self-evident: each one appeals to another and they all meld into a unified whole. Like many artists, Long works in series. From the cosmic energy of Sunrise/Sunset, he moves onto angels with distinct genders, lovelorn mermaids, figure- heads and hunted creatures sailing on the waves of thought. Another Place/Another Time, landscapes, the anthropomorphic forms of Coquettes and dresses straight out of Velázquez’s Las Meninas…

Sorcerer. Long incarnates his words in works and guides us through the labyrinth of history via his sculptures whose dignity, sobriety, and restraint are quite simply supported by the force of their lines.

Lélia Mordoch