Star Circle (Primary Title)
“Art is not separate from life; therefore its purpose is not to produce beauty, but to produce meaning, and everything in life is meaningful.” —Sari Dienes
Born in Hungary in 1898, Dienes arrived in New York in 1939, just as World War II was breaking out in Europe. Having studied in Paris in the 1930s with artists such as Fernand Léger and André Lhote, Dienes brought with her a firsthand knowledge of early 20th-century European movements such as Cubism and Surrealism. In New York, Dienes developed innovative techniques using the urban environment as her material. For example, in Star Circle, Dienes made a cast of a city manhole cover and reproduced it in plaster. She then affixed the plaster cast to a flat surface, essentially making a three-dimensional painting of a street. At the time she made this work, her apartment served as a social nexus for younger artists of the day, such as John Cage, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. Leo Castelli, an art dealer who championed many of these artists, considered Dienes’s unconventional use of materials, as well as her encouragement, to be an important influence on this younger generation.
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