In ‘No Strings,’ Willie Cole Transforms Instruments into Abstract Animals and Figurative Sculptures

“Piano Fowl” (2021), piano legs, keys, and wiring, 34 x 32 1/2 x 42 inches. Photograph by Joerg Lohse. All photos courtesy of Alexander and Bonin, New York, shared with permission

Artist Willie Cole is understood for remodeling discarded supplies into sculptures with a tenor of interrogation. A lot of his three-dimensional work revolves round discovered objects like high-heels, plastic bottles, or ironing boards that he turns into items of cultural commentary, addressing problems with mass manufacturing, historic legacies, and id. The objects are inclined to information the formation of his assemblages, he says, sharing that, “the objects that I take advantage of I see as them discovering me, extra so than me discovering them… I see an object and all of a sudden I acknowledge what I can do with the item. So in that sense, there’s an power or spirit connection to the item. I’m exploring the probabilities of those objects.”

Cole’s solo present No Strings, which opens this April at Alexander and Bonin in New York, exemplifies this method. The artist, who’s presently dwelling and dealing in New Jersey, recovered guitars, saxophones, and pianos from Yamaha’s recycling program and thru his common alchemy, has created anthropomorphic creatures and abstracted figures from their elements: he converts hammers into tail feathers and spliced acoustic our bodies into canines and nameless musicians. The items are expressive and tied to the endurance of America’s previous, notably drawing a connection between the guitar’s form and the yokes pressured on individuals who had been enslaved.

Along with the upcoming No Strings present, you may see a number of of Cole’s sculptures within the ongoing Earlier than Yesterday We Might Fly: An Afrofuturist Interval Room at The Met, and discover extra of his works on his site and Instagram.


“Yamaha Canine 1” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 measurement acoustic guitar elements, 23 1/2 x 12 x 29 inches. Photograph by Pleasure Whalen

“Two-Confronted Blues” (2021), Yamaha acoustic-electric guitar elements, 23 x 29 x 15 1/2 inches. Photograph by Pleasure Whalen

“Yamaha Canine 2” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 measurement acoustic guitar elements, 18 5/8 x 11 x 27 inches. Photograph by Pleasure Whalen

“Picker” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 measurement acoustic guitar elements, 27 x 15 x 15 inches. Photograph by Pleasure Whalen

“Pleasure” (2021), Yamaha 3/4 measurement acoustic guitar elements, 44 1/2 x 22 x 7 1/2 inches. Photograph by Joerg Lohse

“Strummer” (2022), Yamaha 3/4 measurement acoustic guitar elements, 28 x 16 1/2 x 15 inches. Photograph by Pleasure Whalen


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