The List Gallery is pleased to present a mid-career survey of works by Fritz Dietel, the 2017 Donald J. Gordon Visiting Artist
Fritz Dietel: 25 Years
September 7-October 22, 2017, Tuesday, September 19 Artists’ Lecture: 4:30 p.m. Lang Performing Arts Center List Gallery
Reception: 5:30-7:00 p.m. Left: Champignon, 2006, Pine, cedar, pigmented epoxy,
73 x 42 x 42 inches.
Photo: Joe Painter
The List Gallery is pleased to host Fritz Dietel: 25 Years, an installation of key sculptures that demonstrate the artist’s evolving vision. The exhibition will take place September 7 through October 22, 2017. Honored as the Donald J. Gordon Visiting Artist and Lecturer for the 2017-2018 academic year, Dietel will lecture about his work on Tuesday, February 19, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the Lang Performing Arts Center Cinema. The List Gallery reception will follow 5:30-7:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served. These free and public events and an accompanying exhibition catalog have been made possible by the Donald J. Gordon Visiting Artist’s Fund. Fritz Dietel has exhibited his work in the Philadelphia area for more than three decades and earned acclaim for his work, including a 2007 Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Although his List Gallery exhibition represents a small sampling of his creative output, it conveys the variety of his aesthetic and his readiness to embrace new mediums and forms. His mixed media sculptures express his fascination with organic forms such as seeds, shells, vines and carapaces, as well as handcrafted tools, canoes, and containers. Embracing unexpected contrasts, he harmonizes varied materials, including steam-bent wood, handmade papers that he variously molds and layers, copper wire, pigmented epoxy, and lighting elements. Whether they are hung from the ceiling, mounted on the wall, or standing free, Dietel’s sculptures spark the imagination, reawaken our senses and call attention to nature’s dynamism.
Dietel’s many mid-career works featured in this survey reflect his ongoing appreciation for irregularity in nature and large-scale forms that confront us with an animistic presence. Works created with wood and epoxy, such as Purple Hive and Tendril (both 2003), suggest embryonic casings or shells. The exhibition also includes numerous hybrid works that reflect lessons he distilled during an 2006 papermaking workshop at Dieu Donné in New York City. Subsequently, Dietel established a papermaking station in his studio and constructed works such as Casing (2009), which combines encases a wooden support with paper. Recent works, such as Matrix, Hull, and Twisted (2015), are made entirely from handmade paper and highlight the medium’s malleability and translucency. Fascinated by the way transparent or lattice-like sculptures can call attention to effects of light, Dietel also experiments with LED components and incorporates them into several new works including Sentinel (2017). Although he has explored a more organically expressive and open-ended aesthetic throughout his career, works such as Sentinel reflect his ongoing interests in technology, design, and functionality. As he tacks back and forth between different inspirations, methods, and aesthetics, he celebrates engagement, hybridity, and openness to change. Born in 1960, in Northampton, Massachusetts and raised on Connecticut farmland, Dietel received a BFA in sculpture from the Philadelphia College of Art (now the University of the Arts), where he studied with William Daley and Thomas Stearns. Winner of a 2007 Pew Fellowship in the Arts and a 1990 Fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, he has been awarded numerous public commissions and his work is on display at distinguished institutions including The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, Philadelphia and the Milton Hershey School, Hershey, PA. His work has also been featured in juried group exhibitions throughout the United States including at DM Contemporary, New York City; The Everhart Museum of Natural History, Scranton, PA; the Portland Museum of Art Portland, ME; the Samuel Fleisher Art Memorial, Philadelphia, PA; and the Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington, DE. Additional support for this exhibition was provided by the Kaori Kitao Endowment for the List Gallery and the Swarthmore College Department of Art. We would also like to acknowledge the support to the artist provided by Schmidt Dean Gallery, Philadelphia, Pew Fellowships in the Arts, and Susan Gosin, co-founder of Dieu Donné, New York City.