Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Christopher Cairns at Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, 2005

(Installation shot Closing Time)

(Installation shot Closing Time)

In April 2005, Christopher Cairns marked his retirement from Haverford College, after 35 years of teaching, with a solo show at the school called Closing Time. Twenty-seven life-sized figures, in bronze and plaster, invaded Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery en route from their former home in Cairns’ on-campus studio to a new home in a converted firehouse, now a studio, in nearby Havertown.

From Synagogue as AIDS Memorial to Lazarus Rising, the show featured some of Cairns’ most arresting work of the previous decade. Of particular note was the Rochbergtorium, an installation dedicated to his close friend, composer George Rochberg. Featuring plaster and bronze sculptural portraits, a painted portrait by son Nicholas Cairns, a video interview by son Peter Cairns, and a recording of Rochberg’s Caprice Variations by Peter Sheppard Skaerved, the Rochbergtorium functioned as a sort of living memorial.

(Synagogue as AIDS Memorial, plaster)

(Lazarus Rising, bronze, 1996, Lasalle University Art Museum)

(Rochberg head, wax)

Closing Time was reviewed by Philadelphia Inquirer art critic Victoria Donohue, who wrote, “Cairns has developed a life-long morally charged attitude toward his art and toward the portrayal of human life episodes…This show should go a long way in according Cairns his due recognition, for, by any standard, he is one of the truly accomplished sculptors working today.”

(The Mound, plaster)

Peter Cairns documented the show in a short film, below.

A statement by Cairns’ long-time friend Charlie Angermeyer was posted near the entrance. Read it here.

Closing Time was dedicated to Ingrid Muan, a friend and former student who died earlier that year at age 39. Two small paintings of Ingrid’s and a statement about her were included in the show.

See more photos from Closing Time on our Flickr page.

(Tanit, Electra, plaster)

(Spring, plaster)

(Evidence, plaster)

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