Noyes Museum of Art

Oceanville, NJ



Birds and Men: Sculpture by Brian Meunier

October 17, 1999 to January 9, 2000


This exhibition features ten of Brian Meunier's large-scale wood and metal assemblages reflecting the artist's respect for sculptural tradition, with a light-hearted contemporary flair. The works inspired by birds are stylized and whimsical, yet evoke a sense of the creatures in their natural habitat.

Meunier cites the lower Delaware River and southern New Jersey regions, as well as the upper reaches of the Chesapeake Bay, as the influences for many of the bird sculptures. His most recent body of work also reflects an increasing interest in plants, marine life, birds, and the relationship of culture to nature. These natural themes contrast his earlier work which was inspired by technology, in particular, agricultural and nautical devices from the beginning stages of the Industrial Revolution.

Meunier currently serves as Chair and Professor of the Studio Art Department at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. He holds an M.F.A. from Tyler School of Art, and, since the 1970s has been featured in solo as well as group exhibitions in Philadelphia, New York, Massachusetts, Chicago, and St. Louis. He has received numerous awards, including two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships, an NEA Fellowship, and a Ford Foundation Grant.

Brian Meunier said about Full Moon, one of the sculptures in the exhibition, "After reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, I wanted to make a sculpture that incorporated the look of Victorian laboratory equipment. I was also inspired by a book I had of the Automatons of Monte Carlo, a group of amazing mechanical dolls that were created in the early 18th century. I added the round copper plate to one side of the body to suggest that the body of the bird might be hollow and might hold secret working mechanisms. I was thinking of the term "lunacy " and its relationship to the tides--water and moon--hence, the pipes and blue bottle....I love ancient ceramics, particularly examples where pictorial decoration alters the reading of the three-dimensional form. I was also looking at several images of airplanes and battleships that were painted in stripes as a way of camouflaging [dazzle painting was used during World War I in an effort to camouflage American and British military vessels.] To make a bird striped seemed to me to be a "loony " thing to do. A camouflaged bird in the antithesis of the decoy...The bird form was borrowed from a specific painting of a Limpkin by John James Audubon. However, I replaced the Limpkin's feet with a duck's webbed feet." (left: Full Moon, 1996, wood, oil enamel, copper, brass and glass, 40 x 31 x 10 inches)

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