Wade Saunders

You reminded me of when we met, but I can’t find the mail and the information isn’t to mind; I met your work, the bronze wall reliefs at barbara mathes in the ’80s. I “remember” that I met you and catherine here in paris, but you will have to fill in the date or give me the info if you want it in my ”words.” we have the pictures you took, but they are not to hand at this moment.


Autobiography: I was born in 1949 and have been a sculptor for 40 years. I lived and worked in San Diego (1972-1978), Philadelphia (1978-1984) and Brooklyn (1984-1990). My wife Anne Rochette is French and we moved to Paris for a year in 1990; we then chose to stay, in part because it was easier to raise our daughters in France.

I tend to work in series, with each group of sculptures sharing a material. When I was younger I thought works through before beginning them in the studio; now I’m more willing to start on intuition and then let pieces develop. I made the first Case Study House by putting together three elements constructed for another project; a second assembling followed, and then the series just grew. I sometimes use math to subtly structure sculptures. Many of my pieces are difficult technically, and are thus time-consuming to make.

Since 1975, I have earned my living by teaching and now work for the city of Paris. Previously I taught full-time at Tyler School of Art (1978-82), Pennsylvania State University (1982-840, and Rhode Island School of Design (1984-90).

I have published occasional articles in Art In America since 1978, and was fortunate to work for Betsy Baker. My writing has helped my studio work by making me consider artists and ideas I otherwise mightn’t have, and by allowing me to think through particular issues. I wrote on Bill Bollinger’s disappearance from art history, on Bas Jan Ader’s life and work, and on Los Angeles emerging as a sculptors’ town. Since 1986 most texts have been co-authored with Anne Rochette.


- October 5, 2014



Surface has mattered less to sculptors in the West than to those in other cultures. In The Wealth of Nations (2008) I found interest in the tension between the geometry of a lathe-turned cone and the visual syncopation of 49 necklaces of arranged, cut keys, forming nooks and crannies like a fir tree’s needles.


I made bricks by cutting and gluing together rectangles of commercial ceramic tile. Traditionally bricks were made where they were used, so constructing Convey (2009), an 1100-pound cartwheel from bricks, seemed a pleasing contradiction. Tile is almost as subject to fashion as clothing, and the sculpture is like a time capsule.


Stock and Post is a two-part sculpture; each element is comprised of 96 bricks made from tile. Stock is composed like a painting, and offers an animation rare in such a stripped-down form. In Post, I liked the idea of a moving pillar, which floats instead of staying rooted to the ground.


Lying (2013) is put together from found elements: the twelve boards forming the tabletop covered a floor pit and the chairs came from thrift shops. I spliced the chairs together to carry the table at an unexpected height. Initially Lying referred to lying in state, but the sculpture summons other stories as well.


Our Milky Way is simultaneously very empty and densely filled. I wondered what a bicycle wheel packed with spheres would look like. I could have designed the sculpture with AutoCAD and 3D printed the spheres, but I preferred the trial and error of handwork. The ceramic spheres are sized to 1/100th of an inch.


I am a fan of Sol LeWitt’s work, partly because I enjoy deciphering the underlying math. Nine colors generate 36 unique color pairs – (9×8)/2 — which is the number of spokes in a bicycle wheel. There are surely books about patterns on spheres, but I invented those forKinship (2013) myself.


I am a fan of Sol LeWitt’s work, partly because I enjoy deciphering the underlying math. Nine colors generate 36 unique color pairs (9 times 8 divided by 2) which is the number of spokes in a bicycle wheel. There are surely books about patterns on spheres, but I invented those for “Kinship”.


These ten full-scale models are from a sculpture-in-progress titled Case Study Houses(begun 2012); they will be constructed in 2 3/8th thick oak and painted. The original case study houses, commissioned by Art and Architecture magazine between 1945 and 1966, were an idealistic effort to bring Modern architecture to the public.


My Case Study Houses were invented playfully, with each being assembled using the same three pre-existing modules of three, four and five “bricks.” Working with a constrained vocabulary sometimes opens up possibilities. I just completed the Eames House (2013) in tile bricks, and the difference between the tile and the wood constructions is radical.