JB Blunk retrospective exhibition opens at The Fondation d’entreprise Martell

Promotion: an exhibition highlighting the life work of American sculptor JB Blunk is taking place at The Fondation d’entreprise Martell in Cognac, France, presenting the artist’s first retrospective exhibition in Europe.

Running from 8 June to 29 December 2024, the exhibition, titled Continuum, displays a collection of over 150 pieces by JB Blunk – including sculptural works, ceramics, furniture, paintings, sketches and photographs.

Shield, Bizen Vase 1953 on show at The Fondation d’entreprise Martell
The retrospective exhibition has opened at The Fondation d’entreprise Martell

The exhibition was organised by the foundation in collaboration with Blunk’s daughter and director of the JB Blunk Estate, Mariah Nielson, with contributions from curator at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Anne Dressen.

“By unveiling the little-known work of an artist celebrating the power of nature, life, and creation at the intersection of disciplines, this retrospective aligns with the Foundation’s ambition to encourage the emergence of innovative artistic approaches focused on the ecological transformation of territories and our ways of life,” director of The Fondation d’entreprise Martell Anne-Claire Duprat said.

Sculpture by JB Blunk
Over 150 pieces feature within the exhibition

The 900-metre-square space is organised into six themed sections – Japan, Landscape, Home, Archetypes, Process and Public Projects – which are “intertwined and porous” to allow visitors to engage with them holistically.

Also among the work on display is Blunk’s earliest known ceramic vessel, which he made in the 1940s while still a student at UCLA.

Photo of The Blunk House
The exhibition is organised into six themed sections. Photo by Leslie Williamson

Throughout his work, JB Blunk combined art and craftsmanship that took inspiration from and made use of the natural resources around him at his coastal home and studio in Inverness, California.

The Blunk House, which comprises his house and studio built entirely by hand and predominantly from salvaged materials, is considered Blunk’s “major work of total art”.

Two new films commissioned specifically for the exhibition highlight this work – encompassing the artist’s practice and mindset.

Considered a “figure of alternative modernism” and a pioneer in his early sensitivity to ecology, Blunk’s intrigue into nature and landscape, and ancestral expression is visible throughout this collection.

Having settled in Inverness, California in 1957, JB Blunk opted for total immersion in the forest and the marine environment.

Alongside his sculptures, ceramics and furniture of various different scales and creative processes, he also regularly created pieces commissioned for public spaces – often made from single pieces of redwood.

He salvaged redwood from stumps and offcuts from the forest and harvested sand from beaches.

Photo of sculptures within The Blunk House
Two new films were commissioned for the exhibition. Photo by Leslie Williamson

The JB Blunk Estate in Inverness, California, is dedicated to preserving the work and legacy of the artist through exhibitions, publications and tours of The Blunk House.

The retrospective exhibition at The Fondation d’entreprise Martell is open to the public with free admission from 8 June to 29 December 2024. Activities including events and workshops will also be held for young people.

For more information about The Fondation d’entreprise Martell, visit its website here.

Partnership content

This article was written by Dezeen for The Fondation d’entreprise Martell as part of a partnership. Find out more about Dezeen partnership content here.  

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