Nasher Sculpture Center Announces Thaddeus Mosley: Forest

96-year-old artist shows five recent works chiseled from felled trees

DALLAS, Texas (February 28, 2022) – The Nasher Sculpture Center announces Thaddeus Mosley: Forest, an exhibition featuring five large-scale wooden sculptures, all made after 2015 by the still-practicing 96-year-old artist. The show, which originated at the Baltimore Museum of Art and was organized by Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art Jessica Bell Brown, will be on view at the Nasher from May 13 to August 20, 2023.

Born in 1926 in western Pennsylvania, Thaddeus Mosley has been making carved and joined wood sculptures since the 1950s. Largely self-taught, the artist works with arborists and local sawmills in the Pittsburgh area to find felled trees which he sculpts using mallets and chisels. Rather than meticulously planning his sculptures in advance, Mosley roughly chalks out lines on the surface of logs and then begins hand-chiseling and carving. This improvisational process yields surprises. Solid, monumental forms bend and stretch, revealing themselves as cavernous and delicate. Disparate parts of the sculpted timber are joined into unexpected, cantilevered combinations forming abstract compositions. From each vantage point, his commanding forms and life-size scale explore space, human existence, and our relationship to nature.

Among Mosley’s inspirations are European modernist sculpture, the art of African diasporic communities, and the syncopated, soaring freedom of jazz. The large, biomorphic works are made intuitively from walnut, with the chisel revealing the musical motion of the artist’s hands. Mosley, a former jazz critic, regularly associates his art to music, referencing such jazz greats as Thelonious Monk and Art Tatum in titles like Off Minor and Tatum Scales.

“Thaddeus Mosley is an artist richly deserving of recognition,” notes Nasher Director Jeremy Strick. “His powerful and evocative carved wooden sculptures occupy a distinctive position within the field of contemporary art, expressing a sensibility at once improvisational and sophisticated. It is an honor for the Nasher Sculpture Center to share this work with our public.”

The title of this exhibition takes its inspiration from artist Sam Gilliam’s description of his friend:

“He was a jazz critic, post-man, father,

keeper of trees anywhere—

old trees, big trees, round trees, heavy trees.

Thad is not very big,

he is short and close to the ground.

Thad is the forest.”

Thaddeus Mosley: Forest will include an installation of related works from the collection by artists including Constantin Brancusi, Melvin Edwards, Raoul Hague, Isamu Noguchi, and Martin Puryear.  

About Thaddeus Mosley

Thaddeus Mosley (b. 1926, New Castle, PA) is a Pittsburgh-based artist whose monumental sculptures are crafted with the felled trees of Pittsburgh’s urban canopy, via the city’s Forestry Division. His work has been exhibited and acquired by major museums and foundations since 1959, including the Mattress Factory Museum, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the occasion of the 57th Edition of the Carnegie International (2018). His work is held in public collections including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland; the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; Brooklyn Museum, New York, New York; and the Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine. Mosley was commissioned for the 2020 edition of Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center, New York.


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2001 Flora Street
Dallas, Texas 75201
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