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The Double Cone Yellow offered here is comprised of two fiberglass nose cones acquired from an aerospace company in Santa Monica. Valentine acquired a collection of these cones and produced approximately twenty works in the series, which ranged in height, color and composition. The repeated cone was instantly recognizable as an homage to Brancusi, however the industrial material and saturated color were something completely new. With a reverence for Naum Gabo and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Valentine presented his artworks to galleries, only to be met with cynicism and rejection because plastic in art had not found acceptance. Predating the experiments and artworks in transparent plastics which fell in line with the California Light and Space movement, the works of the early 1960s telegraph a rigor and sensibility that is completely unique to Valentine’s life in Los Angeles at the time. The echoes of technological innovation in automobile and aerospace design filtered through a nearly scientific exploration of new materials and finishes produced a body of work that stands alone in the history of American art.
All the work is about the sea and the sky. I would love to have somehow a magic saw, to cut out large chunks of ocean and sky and say, “Here it is.”
De Wain Valentine was born in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1936. As a child, Valentine loved to play outdoors; he was fascinated by the jewel-like tones and surfaces of the semi-precious stones embedded in rock formations. In high school, an art teacher introduced Valentine to plastics and polyesters, materials that were only recently declassified and shortly thereafter, he began to experiment with the creation of different finishes and mixtures in plastics. Valentine was struck by the forms of artists like Ken Price and Craig Kaufmann who were a part of the Light and Space movement of art taking hold in California in the early 1960s. In 1965, Valentine moved to Los Angeles and he started working with a commercial plastic company, when he invented his own type of plastic resin called Valentine MasKast, which could be cast in a single pouring. He used this resin to create monumental works of art that gleam like the souped-up cars of the California greasers. In 1966, Valentine exhibited his cast sculptures at Ace Gallery, his first one-man show, and in 1979 the Los Angeles County Museum of Art held a solo exhibition dedicated to his work.
Valentine’s work is often inspired by the expansive and colorful landscapes of the West Coast, his sculptures capturing what he calls the “transparent colored space” of water and light. Valentine continues to create art from his studio in Southern California to this day.