When I was first introduced to Verkade’s Tightrope Walker it was hard to not immediately draw similarities to sculptures by Alberto Giacometti. Like Giacometti’s Woman of Venice II from 1956 which stands in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Verkade’s Tightrope Walker is tall, skinny, and elongated, with layered, battered bronze skin. Both Verkade and Giacometti use a mix of realism and abstraction to achieve their distorted figural depictions.
Kees Verkade fits into the story of 20th Century sculpture with his move towards abstraction, but also seems out of place as many other sculptors have already developed a totally abstract style. By remaining figural, like Giacometti, Verkade remains connected to the history of sculpture while slowly moving towards abstraction. Even in the 21st century, as he plays with different themes from sports to acrobatics to dance, Verkade has remained loyal to his mix of realism and abstraction and continues to depict distorted figures. His continuity in sculpture is noteworthy, and his commitment to his signature style is unique.
|Kees Verkade, Tightrope Walker (from below), 1973-1979|
|Alberto Giacometti, Woman of Venice II, 1956|