[adjective] 1. having the form of a living organism

The Biomorphic Sculpture of William Dubin: Biography

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During the early 1960s, I became interested in polychromatic sculpture after seeing photos of a small church in Spain where every surface had been painted with imagery. I produced a group of sculptures featuring polychrome combined with carved forms. In 1966, the Richmond Art Center held an exhibition titled  '2D3D' dealing with the themes of sculptural painting and painted sculptures, and I was invited to exhibit.

At the time, I used paint made for model builders; probably not the best choice, but my medium (watercolor) wouldn’t have worked.  Eventually I moved from doing the 2D to working only in 3D, at first using domestic hardwoods and then (as I found sources for it,) tropical fruit hardwoods, eventually working in over 400 species.

I used the term “Biomorphic” to cover these carved sculptures, a bow to Marcel Duchamp whose early paintings (prior to the Large Glass,) had lead the way towards the biomorphic. Although I wasn’t aware of it at the time, many painters who exhibited under the Phases label were advancing biomorphics in 2D work which I eventually saw in the 1980s.

With the Biomorphic pieces I started exhibiting at th
e Dilexi Gallery in San Francisco, eventually having 2 solo exhibitions. Through the Dilexi my pieces were shown at many venue’s in the U.S., and at the Nicholas Wilder Gallery (Los Angeles) and Galleria Odyssia in New York.

The series continued for about 10 years, but was affected near the end by the deforestation in S.E. Asia, and the export bans of native wood from Brazil - those areas being the source of most of my materials. The Biomorphic Sculpture series came to an abrupt halt when the sculptor Don Rich turned a small titanium peg on the metal lathe to elevate a corner of one of the last Biomorphic pieces... I loved seeing what the metal lathe could do, and it was only a short time before I was to switch from wood to brass and the Mechanamorphic Sculptures.