Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29
Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
Page 43
Page 44
Page 45
Page 46
Page 47
Page 48
Page 49
Page 50
Page 51
Page 52
Page 53
Page 54
Page 55
Page 56
Page 57
Page 58
Page 59
Page 60
Page 61
Page 62
Page 63
Page 64
Page 65
Page 66
Page 67
Page 68
Page 69
Page 70
Page 71
Page 72
Page 73
Page 74
Page 75
Page 76
Page 77
Page 78
Page 79
Page 80
Page 81
Page 82
Page 83
Page 84
Page 85
Page 86
Page 87
Page 88
Page 89
Page 90
Page 91
Page 92
Page 93
Page 94
Page 95
Page 96
Page 97
Page 98
Page 99
Page 100
Page 101
Page 102
Page 103
Page 104
Page 105
Page 106
Page 107
Page 108
Page 109
Page 110
Page 111
Page 112
Page 113
Page 114
Page 115
Page 116
Page 117
Page 118
Page 119
Page 120
Page 121
Page 122
Page 123
Page 124
Page 125
Page 126
Page 127
Page 128
Page 129
Page 130
Page 131
Page 132
Page 133
Page 134
Page 135
Page 136
Page 137
Page 138
Joseph Zito The First Thirty Years 19852015 Essay by Damon Brandt Lennon Weinberg Inc. new york 2015 on the cover The Red Chair 2015 cast hydrostone 29 x 41 x 24 inches photograph by Jill Weinberg Adams All images copyright 2015 Joseph Zito. Design by Ink Inc. Produced by Puritan Press. 5 ...the memory of a particular image is but regret for a particular moment. Marcel Proust In Search of Lost Time This book has been printed in an edition of one hundred copies at the occasion of a survey of sculpture and works on paper by Joseph Zito made during the past thirty years. The frontispiece of the book bears a shape hand- printed by the artist with a woodblock and each book is signed and numbered on the colophon. The shape is a curious one evocative but initially unidentifiable that derives from Inversion a work that was the centerpiece of our sixth solo Zito exhibition titled Tempus Fugit. This large mechanized sculpture has three radial arms that support structures reminiscent of a small childs plane ride in an amusement park. The ghostly carcasses of the planes made of wire mesh and hydrostone rotating very slowly in reverse embody Zitos distillation of a precious childhood memory shared with him by a cousin as beloved as a brother whose death the artist was deeply mourning. Inversion was at the heart of an ensemble of works that addressed the enigma of time past present and future. The work was accompanied by the strains of Henryk Greckis Symphony No. 3 which became the haunting soundtrack of our lives for four months while the work was on view in 2013 and still lingers in memory. Among the thousands of artworks we have presented since opening the gallery in 1988 we treasure this as one of the most moving we have ever shown. Reviewing Joseph Zitos first thirty years in the process of preparing for the exhibition has been illuminating and we are pleased to offer in this publication a more complete overview than is possible in the much more selective survey that constitutes the exhibition. Jill Weinberg Adams and Thomas Adams 2014. Photograph by Scout Zito There can be no clear definition of what art is. For me its the endless pursuit to describe and understand whats going on inside me. Its a way to process and deal with what is not visible to the eye. I try to create something tangible that addresses these emotions but in a way that would interest me if I happened upon the work. I cant make art that is pleasing to everyone. The visual statements that are made are very personal but hopefully readily identifiable to most people. I have no illusions that my art will change anything in the world. At this time I make art so Im better able to confront issues of death and loss in my own life. And if a viewer is touched in some way preferably the way I intended then all the better. Joseph Zito 7 To open the door into any one of the multiple studios that have belonged to Joseph Zito over the last 35 years is to come upon a well-organized and highly personal crime scene of conflict and exorcism. Talismans and touchstones form an array of cultural obsessions and artistic inspirations that have always been a part of the visual scenery peppering every wall and surface of his various workspaces. There have been certain constants that bear noting pictures of family added to and annotated with each celebration of a new addition or a keepsake commemorating a loss postcards of favorite exhibitions by famous artists are mixed in with less well known but nonetheless still notable moments acknowledging the hard work of the small group of artists with whom he came up through the ranks. In his current studio in Red Hook Brooklyn sandwiched between other small working factories there is a Shaker-like precision and lack of pretension to the white walls and unadorned cut plywood. Signs of a carpenters hand are everywhere with carefully constructed and pragmatic forms like a large working desk peg boards drawing cabinets and hidden in a corner the occasional sleeping quarters that would be less out of place in the bow of a very small boat. The bookshelves groan with an overreach of cultural history from the Pleistocene to the Renaissance from Wyeth to Smithson and Rubens to Nauman. The CD selection is weighted heavily towards jazz bebop in particular Charlie Parker specifically organized in its own little open plywood coffin box next to a banged up CD player. It is also the studio of a metal sculptor so the anvil welders mask and heavy wooden handled hammers are not out of place. A cluster of naked light bulbs hang tangled in the large chain hoist that dominates the center of the studio like a noose. Smaller more delicate tools line the walls most of which seem to be put in their proper place with the careful forethought of a serial builder. Written with ballpoint pen in an architects precise block print there was a laundry list of favorite materials that I lifted off his desk in the early stages of this portrait of an artist organized with one single capitalized word per line like an alchemic recipe for process. IRON. COPPER. STEEL. ALUMINUM. BRONZE. LEAD. WOOD. CLOTH. WAX. CHOCOLATE. RUBBER. GLASS. HYDROSTONE. 8 FIBERGLASS. GRANITE. FLOWERS. PLASTIC. MARBLE. CEMENT. BRASS. I will be presumptuous and add another key ingredient to those that I may have inadvertently omitted or will be added as time goes by. In every studio that Joe has let me wander I have found at least one black and white photograph of Sophia Loren captured in the blush of youthful beauty and provocative full-figured innocence. It doesnt take an art historian or for that matter a dime store psychologist to make a confident guess that the presence of her disarming smile and carnal unselfconsciousness holds the unspoken promise that sensuality and love are the most effective balm for all open wounds and that this vibrant and breathtaking Italian beauty makes for a very strong case as to why it pays to get through just another day. There has been the same pervasive sense of control and self-curated discipline to all of Zitos workspaces. Sculptures from the past and present nestle along with possible candidates for future exhibitions. Smaller artworks are respectfully presented on the walls while other pieces can be found suspended in the air most typically by three wires. Sculptures of a more recent series are placed in far less comfortable almost random positions on the floor often left at a precarious tilt as part of his fluid experiment towards resolution and completion. Small square cages of thin industrial grade rebar with spindly extensions imprison delicate hand blown glass elements that add to a fragile interplay between elements. Aesthetics aside there is a brooding angst in the air triggered by his multiple variables on the hourglass shape a form that figured heavily in his last show at Lennon Weinberg. Chalk white blood red and midnight black seemed to be the predominant palette of most works solid and stoic in the sculpture fugitive and ethereal in the many watercolors that swirl like gas fumes. Some are framed some hand pinned and other small groups lean against the wall making specific reference to existing three-dimensional work while others can only be experienced as an inextricable part of a larger ensemble. Often in this permutation heavily textured paper is used with an image created by heating the metal sculpture mold and then using it as a repetitive branding device searing the paper surface into gradations of burnt caramel in a superimposed conga line of geometric form. It is not a coincidence that the first line of his biography has always read Joseph Zito was born lives and works in Brooklyn. It feels like not only a statement of fact but also an active celebration of local terroir a birthright 9 of sorts and a continued source of deep personal pride. He was raised along with his younger brother by Blaise and Bunny Zito parents whom he adored and idolized from his earliest days until their final breath. His father an imposing but friendly presence in the numerous photo albums found in him home was a graduate of The School of Cartoonists and Illustrators later more ambitiously named The School of Visual Arts and made a modest to good living designing schoolbooks. A beautifully rendered highly realistic painting by Blaise of what looks like a Swiss town with an imposing background of heavily impastoed mountains currently hangs prominently on a wall in Joes cabin in the Catskills. The visual arts were a palpable presence in the Zito home an ambient sidebar for Joe until his interest blossomed into a full fever with the serendipitous encounter of an Andrew Wyeth catalogue that arrived by mail one day in 1971. Long before his own SVA diploma and the independence garnered from an extended trip to study the masters in Europe this new interest in art undoubtedly caused a bit of a schizophrenic existence because it was in Sheepshead Bay that he learned to balance an unbridled passion for the unfathomable depths of art history with his posse of close-knit neighborhood friends a group of boys who demanded complete allegiance and stood together for the territory and street credibility that defined their communal identity. It was the 70s in New York and the cracked concrete corners were tough and the air filled with the stench of economic and racial tension. Joe struggled to find a way to accommodate both of these seemingly contradictory worlds approaching each with a comparable sense of righteousness curiosity and unimpeachable loyalty. This tug of war between these often radically divergent twin pillars of perception informed and fueled his intellect fired up his angst and created the conflict which ultimately found a cathartic outlet through his art first as a youthful figurative painter evolving later through a rigorous work ethic and an aggressive regiment of self-education and formal instruction into the sculptor that he is today. In the early preparation for this assignment it occurred to me that the questionnaire famously completed by Marcel Proust then simplified and subsequently popularized by James Lipton of The Actors Studio fame might be an effective way in which to gather more information about the world according to Joseph Zito. An admittedly imperfect verbal Rorschach test the process can still provide distinct clues as to creative impulse and personal priorities. Due to a deep knowledge of the history of film Joe was 10 already familiar with the fabled Lipton interviews and was game as he had been in the past when it comes to intimate inquiry though with a caveat that none of it could be shared. He listened as carefully to his own answers as I did bemused by some aggressively definitive about others delivering each almost like a challenge with a decisive and self-confident authority. Some of his choices now listed with his permission are worth noting for the record if only because they were so unexpected a favorite poet was e.e. cummings a favorite painter was Albert Pinkham Ryder and amongst the most important American legal reforms he chose the child labor laws enacted by Theodore Roosevelt. The unexpected aside it came as no surprise that with a daughter named Scout he selected as his penultimate hero Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. As countless devoted readers already know Atticus is a man of quiet resolute integrity coupled with an intelligence that serves a deep empathic heart for the human condition regardless of race or gender. It is a book that brilliantly profiles a man not only of personal faith humor and familial devotion but a man who is at the same time a solitary soul filled with a pathos that comes from having clear eyes and a full heart in a southern community poisoned by prejudice. For Joe - and he is hardly alone - the figure of Atticus Finch is an unimpeachable beacon of good intent and the physical embodiment of a man whose moral compass is set in the fixed direction of living a good and principled life. In short a life worth dying for. The creative byproduct of a life lived with this rigorous tenor is often the stuff that creates the very culture that we clamor to consume. Its honest. Its relevant. Its self-reflective. In candid and self-effacing moments Joe has told me more than once that he doesnt believe that his art or any art for that matter can and will change the world. By the same token he is the first to admit that in the act of making art he has better been able to confront the issues of death and the fear of personal loss that preoccupy him. That alone seems worth the price of admission and Joe seems aware that he is fortunate to have found a language that he continues to learn in his search of increased fluency. As much as his artistic language can be described as a deeply and often opaque personal exercise his artwork also displays a desire to connect with a shared public consciousness sometimes to a fault. There is an undeniable intention to find a more common less complex vocabulary through a lexicon of recognizable and often appropriated images which by default has the potential to reach a wider more eclectic and dare I say less aesthetically informed audience. 11 Titles are an artistic equivalent to a poker players tell. They indicate intent even if the game plan is to divert or subvert the obvious. Joe uses titles in much the same way he is unabashed at taking quotes from the wide range of people whom he reads and admires reprinting his favorites in a number of catalogues that preceded this one. Titles similar to good quotes inform and direct. At their best theyre not fixed immutable points confined to a single reference. Not so in the titles of Zitos work from the mid to late 1980s that I showed in my gallery in 1987. The titles of the early wall sculptures are unadorned and without mystery. First Cut PositiveNegative and Male Female seem like exact fact-based descriptions of the minimalist exercise that defines the cast metal wall inserts of that period. Less than two years later the references become more personal and in some cases specifically salutary as in For Eva 1989 the first of many sculptures that involved casting three-dimensional geometric forms from a metal mold. Eva Hesse was very much on his mind then and continues to have a place of reverence in his constellation of artistic influences many of which happen to be women. The seminal Lippard catalogue on Hesse remains a dog-eared favorite nestled on an accessible bedroom bookshelf. In the same year he made a close sculptural first cousin over a seven-day period and appropriately titled Casting and Printing for 7 Days in September 1989. The piece is made of three specific components forming a trinity of materials a numerical variable that will appear again and again in Joes artwork. An integral part of the piece is a drawing framed and mounted to the wall of the genre already previously mentioned the burnt geometric images echoing the surrounding sculptural elements more installation than formal sculpture. Oil on paper is another technique that he employed during this period and beyond often dedicating these more intimate tactile moments of quiet hand to paper activity to the jazz musicians that he habitually listens to while he works Parker Gillespie and Max Roach to name a few. Starting in the 1990s the relative anonymity of his mathematically based shapes gives way to the more personal dialogue related directly to his body. Myself as of October 90 is composed of an extended rectangle reminiscent of an upright doorframe which derives its specific measurements from Joes height and width. A dense black box-like form weighing exactly 180 lbs. his weight at the time is placed on the floor cheek to jowl with its upright companion. This piece is self-portraiture distilled down to pure geometry devoid of emotion and shrouded in objectivity. In subsequent work his 12 body weight remains a constant source of reference that finds definition in multiple other abstract incarnations cast with lead copper aluminum and cement. La Famiglia a piece also completed in 1990 is composed of four lidless black rectangular boxes of different heights which are reminiscent of the open caskets presaging the carnage of a classic Western gun fight. Though inherently ominous by association based on conversations with Joe there may have been a more benign intent and in fact this work probably bears a closer kinship to the performance-driven body-derived fabric capsules of Franz Erhard Walther. Within the same general time period Joes approach to portraying the body his body takes on a more aggressive and emotionally invested nature. Menacing gatherings of tightly clustered triangular projectiles are canted on the floor like sharpened sticks at the bottom of a deadfall bear trap. In the case of a related work exhibited at 55 Ferris Street in 1992 a show he co-curated with a loose collective of artists My Weight 180lbs. in Copper and Aluminum was suspended from the ceiling like a baleful mobile of stalactites. Most people walking through the exhibition gave them a wide berth unlike Joe who claims to have slept directly underneath them during the nights he stayed in his studio. These works have a close aesthetic kindred spirit with the canon of minimalist sculptures like Donald Judd Jackie Winsor and early Richard Serra. There is a comparable sense of rhythm the use of repetition and geometric abstraction along with an acceptance of raw materials and a celebration of forged and manipulated metal. There is also a common bond amongst the audience who collectively feels the subliminal anxiety that comes from knowing that what has now cooled into solid form was once a fluid dangerous and potentially destructive force. It takes a distinct breed of artist to scratch the specific emotional itch that requires embracing the inherent danger of working with unpredictable and punishing materials. In 1996 using suspension as a sculptural tool a recurring theme in Joes work he signaled a shift from variations of abstract self-portraiture to a more public declaration of intolerance for hatred and racism. Prejudice is the playground of the disenfranchised and the ignorant. Its tribal irrational and pervasive whether encountered on a street corner or in misguided and disingenuous pseudo socio-anthropological opinions masquerading as fact. The Bell Curve is just such an opus a book published to infamy and self-serving acclaim in 1994. Joe had an immediate visceral response to 13 the books premise. To prove his point hung it in effigy from the kind of scaffolding built in miniature which has become one of the detestable symbols of justice run amok. The only thing that I could do with a book like that which symbolizes everything I hated about racial stereotyping was to cast it in bronze watch the three originals that I purchased burn in the process and then hang the bronze books by a single wire dead weight and useless just as they deserved to be portrayed. The work was included in the 1997 exhibition in Lennon Weinbergs space on lower Broadway. Joe titled the show Tintinnabulum a term borrowed from the composer Arvo Prt whom he quotes directly in the modest but moving catalogue produced for the exhibition. Tintinnabulation is an area I sometimes wander into when I am searching for answers - In my life my music my work. In my dark hours I have the certain feeling that everything outside this one thing has no meaning. The complex and many-faceted only confuses me and I must search for unity. The word tintinnabulation relates specifically to the three notes of a triad which when combined in Prts words ring with the purity and clarity of a bell. It was in the spirit of this quote that wooden mallets were handed out at the opening and attendants were encouraged to hit the various works of art. The potent message was unequivocal in that there is a kind of absolution in the act of striking a blow at an offensive object finding a tonal beauty that pre-empts the visual ugliness of racial caricature and prejudice and most importantly by doing it as part of a public ritual of participation we are all the better for it. Included in the same exhibition hanging from two thin wires attached to the ceiling was a powerful piece cast in bronze titled Radiation Treatment Pillow. My father died right after Tintinnabulum Joe told me one evening in his studio and I was so affected by his death that I took a break from making art for a few years but soon realized that the only way to make my peace with such a loss was to continue making art that referenced him. As fate would have it just as he was beginning this new series the World Trade Center was attacked and in the unfathomable insanity of the event as he watched the carnage from his Brooklyn roof Joe knew that there were more important issues at stake than his own pain over his fathers death. In an evolving response to the attack on his home ground and the paroxysms of a misguided United States foreign policy Joes attention 14 turned overseas. He dedicated the next body of work to the detritus and devastation of war focusing specifically on the conflict and resulting casualties in Iraq both military and civilian. Grenades Bullets Targets Dog Tags and Gunpowder were part of a renewed and reconfigured sculptural arsenal. The exhibition was claustrophobic in its nihilism and heart breaking in its indictment of human behavior. One of the final pieces completed in this series of closely related works is titled Ascension. Assembled from a collection of infant body bags clipped together they rise from floor to ceiling like a totem pole of tragedy. It left many people emotionally shattered. The uncompromising and unveiled accusatory message expressed through his use of appropriated imagery historical references and transformed context bears specific comparison to the powerful installation-driven work of Hans Haake along with the lacerating associative imagery of Martha Rosler from her significant collage series Bringing Home The War. In the exhibition which he titled Et Plus Bellum granite carved into an oversized soft rectangle more of a tombstone than a surrogate dog tag of a living soldier is poised to topple over. A third work Untitled Helmet dated 2005 is comprised of a facsimile of a soldiers helmet cast in glass in a valiant attempt at ritual purification an idea enhanced by the fact that it was periodically strewn with fresh rose petals throughout the run of the show. It remains a favorite piece of Joes to be included in the gallery retrospective which this catalogue commemorates and it is worth noting that he still takes distinct pleasure in the universal and common language of the piece. As with Haake and Rosler and for that matter many of the most effective artists who have political agendas it is the re-contextualization of an object with a skewered history that allows for the new self-determined artistic message to ring loud and clear with a language that is deceptively simple and therefore accessible to a wide demographic. When I asked Joe about the disappearance of the war-related iconography immediately following that exhibition he responded with the same vein of hard-edged simplicity that he often strives for in his artwork. I was never under the impression that my art could change anything. If Guernica couldnt stop war and suffering nothing could. So I decided to build a metaphorical ark for my family to escape. But when my childhood friend Jamie was killed I turned the boat upside down and titled the show Not Even the Saints Can Help a quote from Vittorio DeSicas Bicycle Thief. 15 Building the boat was a herculean endeavor. It took every inch of will and studio space available to complete it and for somebody who less than four years before had various flotation devices for children cast in iron and bronze with the titles Swimmies and This is Not a Life Saving Device for an exhibition he named Tomorrow The Birds Will Sing this was a definite departure in attitude. No longer was his priority to invest the work with the threat of adolescent death. This time Joe was playing the role of rescuer adamant that the boat that he was about to build was a viable seaworthy vessel. Consequently he spent an inordinate amount of time studying the blueprints of hull design and specifications on water displacement. As has often been the case with much of Joes work and like his comrade in arms the artist Chris Burden for the piece to have any credibility at all the conceptual had to dovetail with the engineering of the practical. This was not merely an aesthetic exercise this was a direct extension of his role as father husband and protector. For a man who had almost drowned twice there was also the practical question of survival. So what if it was exquisitely irrational Jamie still very much alive and as always blindly supportive of anything his lifelong brother was willing to tackle spent hours cashing in favors to find a flatbed truck and the right muscle to move what when completed could only be described as a rather rough skeletal version of the kind of craft that Shackleton skippered with his desperate crew across the frigid Antarctic seas to safety. Then Jamie was killed without warning in an attempted robbery and for Joe the skies immediately darkened to an impenetrable black the stars disappeared the water swelled in anger and the floating ark with the hull now destined to face the heavens was no longer a metaphor for security but instead a sinking coffin of false hopes and dashed dreams a potent symbol of the inevitability of heartbreaking loss. The big wooden boat returned to the studio unsold and sat partially dismantled in the corner. After an amount of time marked by the absence of any buyer Joe cut up the wood without apparent resentment or regret into pieces small enough to fit into his Franklin stove in the country where it was used to heat his cabin during a number of brutal winters that were to follow including the most recent. Watching the fire burn on a recent night it somehow seemed a more relevant ending to the narrative of this particular work than if it had been purchased by a stranger patron or institution. Instead its slow dismantlement transport and methodical stacking on the porch upstate created an extended and private memorial a Viking-style 16 funeral pyre for the friend that he would never forget. Recently I found a large plastic tub of massive nuts and bolts in the corner of his studio apparently all that is left in Red Hook of the large boat. They sit in limbo for now while he determines whether to put them in a dedicated custom-built wooden box which he is reticent to do because of the possible association with another of his heroes H. C. Westermann. Joe mentioned a viable alternative. I have been looking for somewhere to melt them together he said quietly on a recent cold and rainy afternoon but nobody seems to do that kind of thing anymore. When he does find his answer and he will it is safe to say that the net result will be an amused vendor and an abstract mass of fused aspirations that will need another truck with muscle to move the end game for one-hundred hours of planning and lonely work an object that in both fact and fiction will undoubtedly be exponentially heavier than Joes now 190 lbs. of flesh and bones. In 2013 the oppressive weight and frozen gravitas of the previous exhibition became more emotionally delicate almost meditative a response to the fact that time is just another foe to be reckoned with. In observing that time appears wickedly detached from the consequences of its inexorable march forward Zito in his typical fashion found the sculptural language to counter empiricism and offer an alternative universe. In a coy play with the exhibitions title Tempus Fugit time in the artwork did not appear to fly at all but rather was portrayed as having become static like the sand that filled the hour glass forms or in a more radical gesture moving backwards as it did in one of the largest pieces titledInversion. Three cartoon-like planes seemingly as fragile as eggshells each with stunted wings and a vestigial tail slowly rotate in reverse on a metal armature. There was a surreal hypnotic dream- like quality to this inverse rotation. The piece transcended the antiseptic gallery environment and felt as if it were instead a memory captured through the dirty lens of a camera held by a child. It was a memory that was more nostalgic than foreboding more poignant than threatening just another subterranean narrative that evaded precise explanation but alluded to a profound moment in the artists life. The essence of the piece was embodied by a quote by Kierkegaard that Joe found in his literary wanderings Life can only be understood backwards but must be lived forwards. There was another key work in this exhibition that triggered an association with the artist Joel Shapiro. Though diluted in recent years by too many 17 banal corporate commissions there was a time back in the day when one of Shapiros small geometrically derived figures would appear alone installed on Paula Coopers concrete gallery floor in a state of frozen imbalance and the piece was impossible to ignore. Joe was able to find that same sculptural mojo in the work Adrift a worthy and effective counterpoint to the behemoth of the wooden boat from the previous show. He placed this small bronze boat adrift on a sea of vertical white wall. It was for all intents and purposes a manifestation of the Life of Pi state of mind for its creator a solitary place to face demons fight the good fight and somehow against all odds maybe find his way home. As vulnerable as this sea craft appeared it was still depicted floating upright underscoring Joes inherent faith in that even under the shadow of death and despair there exists the never-ending possibility of rescue and redemption. For Joe the saving grace was that in the midst of deep pessimism and mourning he was still able to come to terms with the fact that there was too much left on land to be cherished and ultimately too much at stake to go down with the ship. What has hopefully become apparent at this juncture is that most of the work in this catalogue dedicated to 30 years of artistic activity serves as a running timeline of Zitos state of mind and preoccupations at each specific point of creation. As an artist Joe is in crowded company when it comes to using visual touchstones as a method of emotional exploration and confession. It is a common obsession amongst artists to establish a distinct language in service of an autobiographical artistic legacy a fact that binds virtually all creative output in the cabal of ego or anti-ego that is the art world. To track Joe Zitos artistic production over his lifetime is to witness a consistent and time-honored commitment to using sculpture and drawings as multiple waypoints to publically map an ongoing journey through personal tragedy emotional resurrection political consciousness philosophical exploration and a restless hunger for re-invention and re-discovery. There are identifiable periods where the focus of the work seems stylistically inseparable one piece dependent on the other finding a harmonic convergence in his nine one-person exhibitions since 1988. It is the age old combination of the ebb and flow of psychically connected and potentially opposing forces the laborer and the artist the evolving intellect and informed antagonist the intuitive object maker and self-conscious art historian the misanthrope and the dedicated family man. Not that Joe has patiently reconciled any of this without real conflict but the rub whether or not he wishes to admit it is that 18 this tug of war is what informs the work and creates the coupling between the complexity and the simplicity that makes his art so meaningful. Joe will tell you that he hates construction more than anything but it has continued to put food on the table and literally a roof over the heads of the family he loves so completely which begs the question how can he not be grudgingly grateful and ultimately influenced by what he has learned on the job site and not only in the studio even if it manifests itself in the banality of being able to perfectly spackle a wall which in turn earns him the right to permanently scar it with a sculptural gesture. It is the same tenacity which drove him to single handedly finish a 25 foot flat stone chimney without scaffolding that also gave him the confidence and expertise to tackle the complex geometric matrix of building a boat hull. There is a final story about Joe that could be interpreted as sentimental a word that carries the kind of baggage that most creative talent understandably shuns but it is an emotion that can also carry a prism of other powerful tools of perception like empathy compassion a deep sense of history and a dedication to the hierarchy of appreciation. One of the buildings near his current studio in Red Hook houses a metal working factory which to Joe is like having an art supply store within spitting distance of the studio. On a random afternoon in the early 1990s he walked in and asked the proprietor already a friend if there was any copper lying around. There was pause as the owner mentally shuffled through his inventory and then pointed to a corner pile. Somewhere in there is a sheet of copper that we salvaged from a studio across the street. After some tugging and pulling Joe extracted a beautiful square piece of luminescent orange metal. Now with it leaning against the wall he could just make out a perfectly etched oval almost dead center. Yeah Joe heard over his shoulder got it as salvage after the guy hung himself from a ceiling joist not that long ago. And so was born the piece First Burning For C.W. The fact that Joe not only had the chance to work with this beautiful piece of metal but that it had already been touched better yet anointed by the great Christopher Wilmarth was a moment of pure tragic bliss for Joe. It was an opportunity given and received for a mystic collaboration with an artist who like Joe was all in mind body and spirit and who through this piece of copper was a living manifestation of a struggle gallantly fought a legacy left unfinished and a terrible price paid for going down with the ship. 19 In an old family photograph there is a picture as young boys of Joe between Jamie and his brother all three crowded around a threadbare red Victorian style high backed chair. This chair has a long Zito history having first belonged to his father then requisitioned without rancor by Joe to become one of the handful of things that has always had a hallowed place in every single studio since Joe became a practicing artist. It was where he did much of his thinking a lot of his listening some of his talking and hopefully a bit of late afternoon napping. As he made plans for the upcoming survey of thirty years of work at Lennon Weinberg now comfortably ensconced in a ground floor space in Chelsea the red chair found itself in the klieg light of retrospective preoccupation in his mind the ultimate autobiographical talisman and a physical embodiment of the continuity between his past present and future. I should have felt its absence when I took an inventory of his studio to begin this piece of writing but I didnt. It was only when he answered my question as to what would be on the cover of the catalogue that I realized it was gone. Joe had taken it to a factory some weeks before where it is destined to be destroyed during the process of casting an exact replica in a white synthetic material called hydro-stone. It will be a ghost chair he said momentarily lost in thought and apparently still absorbed with the implications of his decision. After some time he finally spoke again. You know Faulkner once said that The past is never dead. Its not even past.... so I was thinking maybe it is important to finally let go of certain things without anger or regret especially if they help me define the present. Dedicated to Catherine Calhoun and Scout. Damon Brandt April 2015 New York New York 20 Life is short the art long. Hippocrates 21 First Cut 1985 steel 18 x 1 x 3 inches 22PositiveNegative 1986 welded bronze 12 x 2 x 10 inches. Private Collection 23 White Heat 1986 steel 4 x 4 x 14 inches 24MaleFemale 1985 steel 6 x 4 x 20 inches 25 Nine Ball 1987 welded bronze 12 x 2 x 18 inches 26 Flying Home 680 1987 welded bronze 19 x 1 x 15 inches Collection of Frederieke S. Taylor 27 Endless Void 1988 steel and wax 36 x 5 x 8 inches. Private Collection 28 Bird Lives 1988 oil on paper 16 x 41 inches Blanton Museum of Art University of Texas at Austin 29 Gillespie 1988 oil on paper 28 x 25 inches. Private Collection 30For Max 1988 oil on paper 26 x 28 inches. Collection of the artist 31 Untitled Push 1988 welded steel 24 x 10 x 3 inches. Private Collection 32 We have art in order not to die of the truth. Friedrich Nietzsche 33 Untitled Chute 1988 welded steel 75 x 7 x 21 inches. Private Collection 34Perdido 1989 ink on paper 30 x 30 inches. Collection of Lori Breitman 35 Perdido 1989 steel beeswax and lightbulb 36 x 20 x 30 inches 36For Eva 1989 ink on paper 26 x 27 inches. Private Collection 37 For Eva 1989 steel beeswax and lightbulb dimensions variable The New School Art Collection New York New York 38 Cesira 1989 ink on paper 16 x 28 inches Cesira 1989 steel beeswax and lightbulb 4 x 26 x 14 inches 39 Cast Lead of the Interior to Complete a Regular Pyramid 1989 wood and cast lead 12 x 18 x 18 inches Private Collection St. Louis Missouri 40 Curving a Corner... 1990 ink on paper 52 x 22 inches Collection of Susan Stabile and David Drueding Without art the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable. George Bernard Shaw 41 Casting and Printing for 7 Days in September 1989 1989 steel and black wax mold 16 x 16 x 16 inches 42 Movement of an Equilateral Triangle Around the Perimeter of a Square 1990 steel and black wax mold 11 x 11 x 11 inches 43 3 Casts from a Sheet Folded Twice 1990 aluminum and black wax aluminum 2 x 3 feet each cast 10 x 23 x 4 inches 44Asleep 1990 ink on paper 72 x 22 inches 45 Asleep 1990 cast cement each approximately 72 x 10 x 22 inches 46La Famiglia 1990 cast cement 72 x 72 x 14 inches 47 Curved Corner 1990 cast hydrostone 120 x 18 x 18 inches Art Design Architecture Museum University of California Santa Barbara 48 Curving a Corner with the Sweep of My Right Arm 1990 cast hydrostone 96 x 54 x 28 inches 49 Untitled Column 1990 cast hydrostone and metal 60 x 20 x 20 inches Private Collection 50 Myself as of October 1990 1990 oil on paper 36 x 16 inches Krannert Art Museum University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 51 Myself as of October 90 1990 cast cement 77 x 44 x 11 inches 52 Untitled Wine 1991 wine pigment and oil on paper 30 x 22 inches Arkansas Art Center Little Rock Arkansas 53 My Weight in Copper and Aluminum 1992 ink on paper 42 x 24 inches Fogg Art Museum Harvard University Art Museums Cambridge Massachusetts 54 My Weight in Copper and Aluminum 1992 cast copper cast aluminum and steel each approximately 68 x 4 x 1 inches The more horrifying this world becomes the more art becomes abstract. Ellen Key 55 My Weight in Lead 1992 cast lead and steel 83 x 12 x 1 inches 56 First Burning for C.W. 1992 scorched paper 38 x 27 inches Private Collection 57 Untitled for C.W. 1992 cast copper and cast aluminum each 32 x 5 x 5 inches 58 Shields 1992 cast aluminum each 42 x 24 x 3 inches Belle Donne 1992 wood and cast aluminum 72 x 4 x 4 inches 59 Lament 1992 wood and cast aluminum 72 x 4 x 4 inches. Private Collection 60Details of My Weight 180lbs in Copper and Aluminum opposite. 61 My Weight 180lbs in Copper and Aluminum 1992 wood cast copper and cast aluminum dimensions variable 62Cantus 1992 cast aluminum each 72 x 20 x 4 inches 63 C. A. S. B. 1993 cast aluminum 45 x 16 x 12 inches 64 Untitled the Copper Piece 1993 scorched paper 30 x 22 inches Weatherspoon Museum of Art University of North Carolina at Greensboro 65 The Copper Piece 1993 cast copper 14 x 40 x 8 inches 66Twos Enough 1993 cast copper 24 inches diameter 5 inches deep 67 Chrysalis 1993 cast aluminum 36 inches diameter 7 inches deep 68 With the Help of M.M. 1993 cast aluminum 24 inches diameter 5 inches deep 69 Shelter 1995 cast aluminum and steel each 72 x 11 x 3 inches 70 Im not inspired by the images around me nor by the music I hear. My inspiration comes from what Im experiencing inside. I search for the purest most minimal image to convey what I feel. Once Ive chosen and Im satisfied with the image only then does music feed me and nourish me until the end of the piece. 71 Die Glcken 1996 cast bronze cast brass and steel 73 x 22 x 11 inches. Private Collection 72Mammy With 1 Line 1997 pencil on paper 11 x 9 inches 73 Mammy 1996 cast bronze cement lawn jockey and steel 68 x 8 x 34 inches 74Radiation Treatment Pillow 1996 cast bronze 21 x 22 x 11 inches 75 3 Less Copies of The Bell Curve 1996 cast bronze and steel dimensions variable 76 Steel Bells 1996 chrome-plated milled steel 8 x 19 x 9 inches A Pair of Brass Bells 1996 milled brass 9 x 193 x 9 inches 77 No Biting 1996 steel marble and chocolate 15 x 12 x 12 inches 78Fallen Hero 2000 cast bronze and fiberglass 36 x 5 x 39 inches 79 Flag 2000 steel plastic and cloth 26 x 24 x 26 inches 80Lament 2001 cast bronze wire and Zippo lighter 7 x 6 x 6 inches 81 Precious Object 2004 milled copper silk and plexiglass 44 x 11 x 11 inches 82All in One Basket 2004 wood cement and cast rubber 2 x 19 x 8 inches 83 Cluster 2004 wood monofilament dimensions variable 84Mortar 2005 gunpowder on paper 9 x 12 inches. Collection of the artist 85 Untitled Helmet 2005 steel cast glass and rose petals 10 x 17 x 11 inches 86 Dog Tag 2005 gunpowder on paper 14 x 8 inches Collection of John Scarpinito 87 Dog Tag 2005 granite 23 x 12 x 6 inches. Collection of Austin Nagel 88 Daisy Cutter 2005 gunpowder and daisies on paper 9 x 12 inches Collection of Christopher and Danae Sixsmith Target 2005 gunpowder on paper 8 x 8 inches Collection of Rosa and Aaron H. Esman 89 Ascension 2005 infant body bags and spring clamps 142 x 18 x 7 inches Collection of Mark Sandelson 90 Violin Trio 2006 violins tape steel lead and plaster 37 x 29 x 11 inches Collection of Ronald and Patricia Iervolino 91 Untitled Chair 2005 wood chair and motor 24 x 22 x 14 inches 92 Swimmies and detail 2006 cast iron and inflatable pool 11 inches high 55 inches diameter 93 This is Not a Life Saving Device 2006 painted bronze 10 x 17 x 11 inches. Collection of Beth De Woody 94Cradle 2007 galvanized metal and cloth 45 x 29 x 21 inches 95 Swung 2007 steel dimensions variable 96Twins 2006 lead 27 x 40 x 11 inches 97 Seesaw 2007 steel motor and electric elements 14 x 72 x 36 inches Untitled For Jamie 20092010 wood and steel 8 x 10 x 30 feet 99 Untitled 2010 chalk on paper 12 x 21 inches. Collection of John Scarpinito On the surface the work appears to be MinimalistConceptual but I see it more in the vein of pure Expressionism. The work is rooted in the primal emotions and not the intellect more Soutine than Newman. 101 Untitled 2010 ink on paper 11 x 103 inches 102 Four of the 11 Stations 2010 watercolor on paper each 12 x 9 inches Collection of Dr. Paul Curtis Bellman 103 Plane 1 2010 watercolor on paper 9 x 12 inches. Collection of the artist Study for Adrift 2012 watercolor on paper 7 x 4 inches Collection of the artist 104 Untitled Clock 2012 wood steel aluminum and motor 56 inches diameter 12 inches deep 105 Stand Still God Damn It 2012 wood glass and sand 123 x 7 x 7 inches Stand Still God Damn It 2 2012 steel glass and sand 11 x 8 x 8 inches Stand Still God Damn It 3 2012 steel glass and sand 5 x 15 x 4 inches Private Collection Inversion 2012 hydrostone steel aluminum and motor 13 feet diameter 107 108 Movement of Inversion 2012 watercolor on paper 30 x 22 inches Collection of Dr. Paul Curtis Bellman 109 Movement of Inversion 2012 ink on paper 16 x 12 inches Collection of Carl and Monica Zito 110 Movement of Inversion 2012 ink on paper 10 x 14 inches Collection of Dr. Paul Curtis Bellman 111 Untitled For J.J. 2012 watercolor on paper 9 x 12 inches. Collection of Susan Lorence 112 85004 2013 watercolor on paper 14 x 7 inches Collection of Dr. Paul Curtis Bellman 113 Adrift 2013 cast bronze 4 x 2 x 1 inches 114 I have a difficult time accepting death and loss. The pragmatic response would be to understand that its part of the cycle of life. But I need to create a small private world for myself. By thinking about and subsequently carrying out an idea for a sculpture a sculpture that will best describe what Im feeling Im better able to cope with feelings of despair. It may take a few days or a few months but for that time Im free of those feelings. I cant stop time nor can I reverse it to a more comfortable period of my life. But it feels good to make the effort. Catharsis is the driving force of so much of my work. 115 Untitled Phoenix 2013 steel and wood 6 x 7 x 3 inches 10 feet high Collection of Ronald and Patricia Iervolino 116Study after Bed 2014 watercolor on paper 12 x 10 inches 117 Untitled Bed 2014 steel and string 20 x 10 x 9 inches 118It is What It Is 2014 painted steel and string 10 x 18 x 10 inches 119 Crutch 2014 steel and string 20 x 17 x 8 inches 120 Cage 2014 ink and watercolor on paper 9 x 36 inches 38 Pieces 2014 ink and watercolor on paper 22 x 30 inches. Private Collection 121 Suspended Cage 2014 steel rubber cable and fiberglass 7 x 7 x 7inches 122Soul 2014 steel and glass 10 x 10 x 10 inches 123 Reflection 2014 steel 75 x 12 x 12 inches 124The Red Chair 2015 watercolor on paper 11 x 8 inches 125 The Red Chair 2015 cast hydrostone 29 x 41 x 24 inches 126 Casting La Famigilia 1990 127 bibliography Baker R.C. Best in Show Enjoy Every Scapula The Village Voice October 2 2007 Bandini Mirella Oltreluce Contemporanea Summer 1990 Carusa Rosella Artinumbria Italy Winter 198889 Dalesio Gabriella Segno Italy FebruaryMarch 1991 Segno Italy January 1991 Dragomer Krista Red Hook Star Revue October 2010 Eskin Otho E. Sculpture Magazine May June 1990 Glueck Grace The New York Times April 11 1997 C 24 Heartney Eleanor Joseph Zito at Lennon Weinberg Art in America November 2005 Koplos Janet 55 Ferris St. II Art in America February 1993 MacAdam Barbara A. Joseph Zito Art News January 2011 Manara Emma Zanella Titolo Italy Summer 1991 Melrod George Robin Hill Peter Soriano Joseph Zito Art News April 1992 Reviews New York New York Sculpture MarchApril 1994 Salazar Wayne Joseph ZitoCritics Pick New York Artforum September 2013 Shilling Alana Poetics of the Unpromising Joseph Zito Tempus Fugit Brooklyn Rail September 2013 Thompson Walter Joseph Zito at Rosa Esman Art in America October 1988 Villa Guiditta Segno Italy December 1988 Welzenbach Michael The Washington Post February 17 1990 Zimmer William 7 Days Magazine April 6 1988 128 Casting Belle Donne 1992 129 solo exhibitions 2013 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Tempus Fugit. June 13September 14. 2010 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Not Even The Saints Can Help. September 9October 16 catalogue. 2007 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Tomorrow the Birds Will Sing. September 20October 27. 2005 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Joseph Zito et plus bellum. March 31April 30. 1997 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Joseph Zito Tintinnabulum. March 20 April 19 catalogue. 1993 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Joseph Zito New SculptureWorks on Paper. November 11December 18. 1991 New York Rosa Esman Gallery Joseph Zito. January 5February 2. catalogue. Rome Italy Galleria Il Ponte Joseph Zito. February 7March 6 catalogue. Milan Italy Piero Cavellini Maria Cilena May 2June 1. 1989 New York Rosa Esman Gallery May 4June 10. St. Louis Missouri The Greenberg Gallery Annex November 1December 22. 1988 New York Rosa Esman Gallery March 11April 9. Rome Italy Galleria Il Ponte November 15December 10. Casting My Weight in Lead 1992 131 group exhibitions 2015 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Salon du Dessin January 8February 21. 2012 New York New School Art Collection and Sheila C. Johnson Design Center. Things That Go Bump. Curated by Sylvia Rocciolo June 29September 9. New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. The Early Show June 19August 17. 2011 Katonah New York Katonah Museum of Art Kramarsky Collection Group Show January 23April 1. Exhibition organized by Ellen J. Keiter. 2009 Segovia Spain Museo de Arte Contemporaneo Esteban Vicente New York New Drawings 19462007 January 27May 24 catalogue. 2008 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Flow Chart July 8August 15. 2005 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Group Exhibition Gallery Artists June 24August 12. 2003 Amherst Massachusetts University Gallery Fine Arts Center University of Massachusetts. In the Making Contemporary Drawings from a Private Collection February 1March 14 March 25May 16. 2002 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. New Year New York New Work. January 19February 16. 1998 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. UTZ A collected exhibition curated by Stephanie Theodore February 6March 7. 1996 New Orleans Louisiana Contemporary Arts Center Delphi Sculpture by artists in the Netherlands and the United States May 4June 30 catalogue. 1995 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Group Exhibition September 530. 1994 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Gallery Artists. January 829. 1993 Philadelphia Pennsylvania Jessica Berwind Gallery Drawings from 55 Ferris Street September 10October 16 traveled to New York Wynn Kramarsky October 29November 20. 132 New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Works on Paper By Gallery Artists July. New York Lennon Weinberg Inc. Sculpture Robin Hill Peter Soriano Joseph Zito January 7February 13. 1992 Brooklyn New York 55 Ferris Street. 55 Ferris Street 11 curated by Frederieke S. Taylor. October 17November 21 catalogue. Brooklyn New York 55 Ferris Street. 55 Ferris Street Show curated by Frederieke S. Taylor. May 30July 11 catalogue. 1991 Chicago Illinois Ricky Renier Gallery Drawing Ranges. New York Rosa Esman Gallery Summer Spotlight. Siracusa Italy Villa Reimann Atti catalogue. St. Louis Missouri Greenberg Gallery Sculpture. New York Met Life Gallery Another DimensionDrawings by Six Contemporary Sculptors. 1990 Rome Galleria Il Ponte Per Una Collezione. New York Rosa Esman Gallery Summer. New York Rosa Esman Gallery Sculpture and Drawings. Los Angeles Blum Helman Gallery Joseph Zito Gerald Giamportone. Washington DC Baumgartner Galleries Inc. Joseph Zito. Thomas Nozkowski. Washington DC Baumgartner Gallenes Inc. Within catalogue. Turin Italy Claudio Bottello Arte. Oltreluce curated by Marisa Vescova catalogue. 1989 Palermo ltalyTotal Nova 1970Present curated by Marisa Vescova catalogue. 1988 New York Rosa Esman Gallery Scale Small. New York Rosa Esman Gallery Looking at New York. 1987 New York Rosa Esman Gallery Looking at New York. New York Damon Brandt Gallery. New York Rastovski Gallery. 133 public collections Arkansas Art Center Little Rock Arkansas Blanton Museum of Art University of Texas at Austin Fogg Art Museum Harvard University Art Museums Cambridge Massachusetts Krannert Art Museum University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign The New School Art Collection New York New York Art Design Architecture Museum University of California Santa Barbara Weatherspoon Museum of Art University of North Carolina at Greensboro Working on Untitled for Jamie 2009 Making the mold for The Red Chair 2015 Im not compelled to go to the studio every day. I go when needed when theres something to say. Doing endless variations on a theme bores me. If Im not going to be interested in the work why should I expect anyone else to Id rather spend that time walking through the woods and looking at the trees. Of course living in this world of ours theres always something to be frightened frustrated or angry about. 135 special thanks to Robert Bresson Henryk Grecki Jimi Hendrix Herb Katzman Sophia Loren Toni Morrison Charlie Parker Arvo Prt John Steinbeck Andrei Tarkovsky Andrew Wyeth And my friends and family This publication could not have happened without the efforts and dedication of Damon Brandt Jill Weinberg Adams and Mary Shah Published in an edition of 100 copies by the artist and Lennon Weinberg 0n the occasion of the exhibition Joseph Zito The First Thirty Years 19852015 on view at the gallery from June 11August 14 2015. This is copy number