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Artists on Art: Seymour Lipton on Sea King

October 24, 2017

Seymour Lipton (American, 1903–1986). Sea King, 1955. Nickel silver over Monel, 30 1/2 x 41 3/4 x 20 inches (77.5 x 106.1 x 50.8 cm). Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery; A. Conger Goodyear Fund, 1956 (1956:6). © The Estate of Seymour Lipton; Courtesy of Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC, New York, NY.

In the 1960s, the Albright-Knox wrote to a selection of artists to ask for statements about their works. Seymour Lipton responded with thoughts about his sculpture Sea King.

Seymour Lipton demonstrated a remarkable prescience about the kind of relationship between technology and quotidian existence now standard when he wrote back in July of 1968, “Today, part of the vast reality a man can experience is contemporary technology entering the web of existence, physically, morally and philosophically. . . . The machine, physics and what they imply in extension of man’s arm and mind toward extinction of for adventure and peace are deep in today’s existence.” As an artist, Lipton was interested in the possibility of achieving a type of fusion or synthesis between something “essentially animal and botanical in origin” like Sea King and technological forms. Technological advances definitely played into Sea King on a material level. The sculpture was created primarily out of Monel, a stronger-than-steel nickel alloy developed in 1905 and widely popular in building construction between 1909 and World War II. 

Content taken from Letters from 31 Artists to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo: The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, 1970).