St. Louis artist Saunders Schultz’s work to be featured in exhibition on UMSL campus
The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri–St. Louis will celebrate the work of St. Louis artist Saunders Schultz in a exhibition opening Sunday.
The exhibition, “Saunders Schultz: Visionary Abstractions,” will run through the end of the year. It will feature a selection of Shultz’s drawings, paintings and sculpture and be displayed in the Mercantile Library’s Meier Gallery on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Library on UMSL’s North Campus.
Schultz’s daughter is scheduled to speak at the opening reception, held from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
“The Mercantile Library has a long tradition of collecting and exhibiting the works of St. Louis artists, and we’re excited to continue this mission with the works of Saunders Schultz,” said Julie Dunn-Morton, Endowed Curator of Fine Art Collections at the Mercantile Library. “St. Louisans pass by his iconic sculptures on a daily basis, and we are delighted to reintroduce them to the artist who contributed so much to our city’s culture.”
Schultz drew direct inspiration from nature, even quoting Frank Lloyd Wright, who advised: “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”
The drawings and paintings in this exhibition reveal the complex ways in which Schultz was inspired by the shapes of leaves, trees, flowing water, and in some cases, capturing the concept of rushing air.
One sculpture and two maquettes show how the artist converted his explorations of nature into three dimensions. Despite their small size, these pieces still convey the grace, complexity and monumentality of the site-specific works for which Schultz is known.
Shultz (1927-2017) earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s degree in fine art from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
He was among the founders of the concept of architectural and environmental sculpture, and in 1960, he founded the sculpture studio Scopia with William Severson.
During his 75-year career, Schultz created and installed nearly 300 pieces ranging in size from 1 to 20 stories high, installed in 37 states and around the world, including Singapore, Saudi Arabia and Moscow. Each piece was created to relate to its architectural and natural surroundings.
Among the pieces located in St. Louis are “Primogenesis” at Clayton High School, “Synergism” in front of the US Bank building at 7th Street and Washington Avenue downtown, and the 250-foot brick relief mural “Finite-Infinite” on the east façade of the Council Tower East building.
These familiar works reflect Schultz’s emphasis on connecting his work to its natural environment through composition, materials and scale.
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