Design 20 October 2016

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Stan Dann

Jessica's Iron

USA, 1983
carved alder and cast zinc
16½ h x 47½ w x 3¼ d in (42 x 121 x 8 cm)

result: $5,760

estimate: $5,000–7,000

Incised signature and date to edge: [Stan Dann 1983]. Signed to verso: [Stan Dann].

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Stan Dann


Dann with Jessica's Iron pictured in his Oakland studio.

Stan Dann approached wood as if it were a fluid medium, creating puzzle-like bas-relief wall sculpture depicting abstract interlocking forms, undulating line art, landscapes, street scenes, and ordinary household items that he gifted with personalities.

Born in British Columbia, Canada, Dann graduated from Vancouver's Faulkner Smith Academy of Fine Art and received his B. A. with honors in 1957 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. After briefly working as art director for San Francisco’s McCann-Erickson advertising agency, he began creating three-dimensional wood signage and graphics for prominent regional and national architects including Gensler Associates and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. The Nut Tree, a trendy California road stop, featured Dann’s designs and carvings throughout their grounds and restaurant, alongside Charles Eames furniture and budding California cuisine.

Interior of Dann's Oakland studio.

By 1980, Dann had abandoned commercial design entirely. Now cutting and shaping wood on a band saw, he used these elements to construct puzzle-like assemblages of natural and painted wood. The new process opened creative possibilities that were previously unobtainable, and inspired him to explore a wide array of subject matter.  He maintained a studio in Oakland, California, until the mid 1990's, and later worked in a studio located in the hills above the nearby town of Lafayette.

During his lifetime, Dann exhibited with Allan Stone Gallery, New York and his work was displayed in international art fairs in London, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In 2012, his bas-relief sculpture Fantasia was exhibited in Crafting Modernism: Midcentury American Art and Design at the Museum of Arts and Design in New York, and featured prominently in the book of the same name. His works are represented in the permanent collections of the Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; The Hechinger Collection, Washington, D. C.; and The Forrest L. Merrill Collection in Northern California