Peter Gourfain emerged on the New York art scene in the 1960s showing minimalist sculpture. Since the 1980s, his work has become figurative, expressionist, personal, and socially engaged. Many of Gourfain’s terracotta reliefs, large scale urns, cast bronzes, woodcarvings, prints, and paintings deliver specific messages about political and social issues, often of universal importance. Gourfain’s carved homage to Michael Stewart, and African American art student from Brooklyn who died from a beating, allegedly by eleven NYPD officers, presents a tragic story with an important message.
A chronicler of our times, Gourfain portrays the human struggle and makes vivid comment on social injustice in America. His 1994 large scale bronze sculpture “Powerful Days” features images from milestones in African American history. His dramatic narrative also often weaves in themes and songs from the work of James Joyce, exemplified by the 1990 woodblock print “Finnegan’s Wake.” Trained as the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Gourfain has exhibited his work at the Brooklyn Museum, Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, and the Jewish Museum in NYC, among others. The Elvehjem’s exhibition was the first major showing of Gourfain’s work since 1987.
Publisher: Elvehjem Museum of Art (2002)
Foreword and Interview with Peter Gourfain: Russell Panczenko
Silence Would Be a Compromise (Essay): Lucy R. Lippard