Leo Amino - Moss New York Tuesday, October 16, 2012 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist
    Fifty/50 Gallery, New York, 1992

  • Exhibited

    ‘Sculpture of the American Scene’, Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, March 21 – May 2, 1987

  • Literature

    Gregory Gilbert, Leo Amino, Sculpture 1945-1974, exh. cat., The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, 1985, pp. 5, 7 for examples of similar forms
    Douglas Berman, Sculpture of the American Scene, exh cat. Philadelphia Art Alliance, Philadelphia, 1987, illustrated p. 27
    Murray Moss ‘Murray Moss’, Casa Grazia, no. 12, December 2011, illustrated p. 81
    Murray Moss, ‘Midtown? Yes, Midtown: Design maven Murray Moss lives with the tourists—and loves every minute of it’, New York Magazine: Design, Summer 2012,
    illustrated p. 128 Arlene Hirst, ‘TDA/Total Design Addict’, Elle Décor Italia, no. 9, September 2012, illustrated pp. 184, 188

  • Catalogue Essay

    Leo Amino was born in Taiwan in 1911, and grew up in Tokyo. In 1929, he immigrated to America, studying for two years in California, and then at New York University. Remaining in New York after completing his education, he took a job with a Japanese firm that imported tropical woods. While at the ¥rm, Amino became interested in the textural qualities of ebony, and he began to take home samples of the tropical wood to carve. His interest in sculpture grew rapidly, and in 1937 he studied briefly at the American Artists School.

    Amino’s work was exhibited at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, and he was given his first solo exhibition in 1940. In 1947 and 1950, he taught at the renowned Black Mountain College in North Carolina, joining the ranks of other legendary artists and designers who taught there including Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Elaine de Kooning, Buckminster Fuller, and Walter Gropius. Amino continued teaching, from 1952 until 1977 at the prestigious Cooper Union and, during that period, he continued to experiment with his own work, remaining in New York until his death in 1989.

    Leo Amino’s work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York and The Museum of Modern Art, New York. The most works by Leo Amino are held in The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.

    Constantin Brancusi and Louise Bourgeois helped define modern-era ‘totems’ – monumental vertical assemblages, first identified with the ancient indigenous peoples of the American Pacific Northwest. Totems, both tangible and ephemeral, appear in almost any art form: music ‘swells and builds’, architecture ‘stacks’, couture ‘layers’. Totems create silhouette, profile, hierarchy. When I saw the extraordinarily earthy, creamy Condo painting featuring a totemic figure of a young girl, I immediately thought of juxtaposing this two-dimensional shadowlike ‘vertical progression’ with an exceptional three-dimensional, fully articulated wooden sculpture by the somewhat ‘under the radar’ but none the less brilliant Japanese-American sculptor Leo Amino, created circa 1952 and titled ‘Multiple Forms.’ I acquired this work, a prime example, exactly 20 years and two months ago from the ‘2 Marks’ who owned the renowned New York gallery most identified with mid-century masterworks, Fifty/50. It was the first ‘non-functional’ object (i.e. ‘art’) I had ever purchased. It was something I had coveted in their gallery for years, hidden on a high shelf in their back room. The 2 Marks acquired the piece directly from the artist. Living with this sculpture over so many years, it has become one of our personal treasures. For some reason I find beauty and pleasure in ‘vertical progressions’, such as the architectural ‘canyons’ that exist in parts of Manhattan. Our favorite New York City office building ‘canyon’ is from 51st Street going up Park Avenue to 57th Street, a Mecca for totem lovers which includes the Seagram Building and Lever House. We live nearby, in another totem, the Olympic Tower.



‘Multiple Forms’

50 1/2 x 8 x 8 in (128.3 x 20.3 x 20.3 cm)
Underside signed and dated in pencil with ‘LEO AMINO/1952’.

$45,000 - 55,000 


16 October 2012
New York