Pierre Clerk, American/Canadian (1928 - )

Pierre Clerk

Known for mod imagery, graphics, sculptor

Pierre Clerk was born in Atlanta, Georgia on April 26, 1928. He studied fine arts at McGill University, Loyola College and at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal, Canada. He traveled abroad to seek further instruction at the Academy Julien in Paris, France and the Accademia di belle Arti in Florence Italy.

Pierre Clerk has been widely recognized for his stellar work in and contribution to modern art. Select awards and grants include: Canadian Council Awards, 1971,72; Tamarind Fel, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1972; United States Information Service Exhibition Grant, 1977; Municipal Art Society Grant, 1977; United States Department Travel Grant, 1977-78.

The images of Pierre Clerk's graphic works directly relate to ideas he uses in his painting, tapestries and sculpture. Big, bold and commanding, these images, although associated with a North American point of view, have worldwide appeal.

Collections of his work are held in numerous museums and galleries in the United States and Canada. A select group includes: Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenhiem Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada; Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham MA; Glasgow Art Museum, Scotland; New Mexico University, Albuquerque, New Mexico; Queens College, New York; State University of New York, Purchase, New York.

In addition to painting, Clerk has also created monumental sculptures of note. In 1977, four of Clerk's large sculptures, which the artist crafted specifically for the location, were installed at Waterside Plaza, an apartment complex on Manhattan's East River. Sponsored by the Public Arts Council of the Municipal Art Society, the installation garnered a positive review in the New York Times. Of the large geometric pieces, Paul Goldberger wrote: "The success of the Clerk exhibition, which will remain at Waterside Plaza for an indefinite period, is an obvious reminder of the extent to which sculpture can assist in solving an architectural problem.... The sculptures neither give in to the buildings nor fight them; instead they treat them almost playfully, teasing the towers' somber forms, yet never becoming shrill or unkind. It is the sort of balance more urban sculture should strike."

Clerk's two-story City Candy (1983), described as a "commanding presence" by the Toledo Blade, weighs 25,000 pounds. The red-and-white striped aluminum sculpture, which measures 42 feet by 48 feet by 24 feet and has one base inside a parking garage and the other on the adjacent sidewalk, was named by the winner of a 1984 "name the sculpture" contest.[18] As the first city in Ohio to adopt a one percent for arts program, Toledo, Ohio boasts more than 80 examples of public, outdoor art, which include large sculptures, environmental structures, and murals. These works are organized into a number of tours. The Toledo Blade cites City Candy as being "among our favorites" on the Promenade ParkÔÇôRiver Walk tour. But, as almost all public art does, City Candy has drawn its share of criticism, and it "continues to be a controversial sculpture with opinions being voiced strongly on both sides."

In 1996, Clerk lead the SoHo Community Council, an ad hoc group of artists and other Soho residents who sued the New York State Liquor Authority for granting a liquor license to a nightclub on Grand Street in Manhattan. Opponents of the club, who included actor Willem Dafoe; Christopher Burge, the chairman of Christie's; along with the Soho Alliance, another community group; and the local community board; charged that the authority had broken a 1993 law which was intended to prevent residential neighborhoods from becoming over-saturated with bars and nightclubs. The case went to the State Supreme Court, where, in 1997 the judge ruled in favor of Clerk and the neighborhood groups. The judge ordered an immediate revocation of the club's liquor license. Clerk told the New York Times that the ruling "sends the message to the S.L.A. that it can not frivolously issue licenses in opposition to what the community wants, especially here in SoHo."

Select Exhibitions

  • 1977-1978 - Pierre Clerk at waterside : an exhibition of monumental sculpture - sponsored by the Public Arts Council of the Municipal Art Society, at Waterside Plaza in New York City
  • 2004 - Under $2,000 Albers Zaugg, Brooke Alexander Editions, New York, NY
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