Serious art without seeming to be, describes the whimsical line drawings transformed to three dimensions by artist Steve Martin. Martin seems to literally draw outlines in space that capture the illusion of weight and solidity. In Martin’s words, the shadows cast by the sculpture “represent what the drawing might have been or could be.”
Created from a single strand of wire, the only tools required for these sculptures are the artist’s hand and needle-nosed pliers for detail work. Akin to a continuous line drawing, in which an artist never lifts his pen from the page, Martin discovered this media while working for his father, a contractor, tying foundation rebar to wire mesh. It was then that Martin discovered the wire was simply a physical line, and a line is a very abstract element. Because it can be used to draw a picture, write in any language, or jot down musical notes, the only limits to its potential is the artist’s imagination. The wire sculptures were the genesis of Martin’s art career, and the line is a reoccurring and consistent theme that runs through all his different works.
These lines of steel can be deceptive because they seem effortlessly created. Having evolved over the last 30 years to possess a sensual presence, they sometimes are seductive and intentional, but sometimes shy and reluctant, in a world unto themselves with thoughts of their own. They offer their energy or languor to the viewer to enjoy at his or her leisure, but the object of our gaze is the always-emergent personality of the figures as they float, teasing, packed with energy, waiting as if caught in mid-movement. Seeing the figures draws us into their existence, urging us to smile at their antics. Martin’s masterful gestures compel our attention by capturing with linear abandon, a lyrical movement, a spark of life, a vital act of being filled with implication.