New Orleans artist Arthur Silverman (1923-2018) began to focus solely on making art after retiring from a successful private practice as an urologist. Over the next twenty years, he transformed his hobby of art-making into a career that saw the production of over twenty-five public commissions for universities, government offices, commercial buildings, and other public spaces.
Of his art, Silverman said: “My main interest is public sculpture, because that is where the visual values I esteem play a role over extended time in affecting many people. The work is in the ‘constructivist’ spirit, and I intend no message in the political, emotional, historic, etc., sense. The sculpture is strictly a visual experience, which is not to say that each piece doesn’t have its own special ‘character’ or ‘nature.’ The work seems to be accessible to people of all levels of sophistication with respect to the visual arts. I’m pleased that no one has ever asked me that dreadful question ‘What it it?’…”
Silverman believed that the subject of art was based in the artist’s effective use of the medium. With this in mind, he worked in metal, basing his forms on the properties of the tetrahedron. The tetrahedron is a complex geometric shape composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each corner or vertex. The shape has six edges and four vertices. This results in complex designs with as many as eight different “postures” or arrangements. The design has a different appearance with each change of position, but Silverman says that it “remain[s] completely sculpturally valid in each new attitude.”
Arthur Silverman, Con-fusion Wall, 1988. Stainless steel on walnut wood base, 24 x 19 x 9.5 inches. Gift of Donna Perret. Louisiana Art & Science Museum Collection 2000.005.001