“Inner Circle” by David Deming (photo by Norm Roulet)
Putnam Sculpture Collection, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Deming claims that he was inspired by the Chac Mool, a type of statue discovered at Chichen Itza in 1875 by the explorer Augustus Le Plongeon. The statue, the first of what would be more than a dozen found at the site, is now in the national museum in Mexico City (below).
Photo by George and Audrey De Lange
At the reception last month dedicating Inner Circle, Deming told the audience that the first saw the image in a slide show at a Cleveland Institute of Art class. But how does one go from a Mesoamerican statue of a man resting on his elbows to an almost circle that looks like a giant steel rocking chair? The answer is Henry Moore.
Henry Moore was obsessed with the Chac Mool, which like Deming, he saw first as a photograph. He spent his career creating different versions of it.
Henry Moore’s “Reclining Woman” (1929)
As the years went on, Moore stayed with the Chac Mool form, but his sculptures became more and more abstract:
Photo Jay Cross
‘Reclining Figure’ 1969-70 (photo: The Henry Moore Foundation)
Photo David Gaines
Moore kept going until it was hard to see the Chac Mool. But it’s there, amidst the sheep:
Deming was not only inspired by the Chac Mool, but also by Henry Moore. “Henry Moore was a big person that influenced me, in a positive and negative way,” Deming said in an interview. “Since I was interested in the figure and I was starting to do abstract work, I was trying to create semi-reclined, abstract figures, and every time Iâ€™d go to do it, theyâ€™d look like a Henry Moore, you know. It was like I couldnâ€™t escape from this man.”
Deming called Moore his “nemesis.” As the two of them had the same inspiration, the Chac Mool, Deming searched to find his own way to express the shape. According to Deming, Moore used “flowing, organic forms” so he decided to go “hard edged.”
“Iâ€™ll use more mechanical shapes, you know, and especially when I started welding,” Deming said. “So I would use hard edges instead of rounding things off. Just that one move allowed me to break away visually and conceptually to this artist who was influencing me.”