Schema Projects

Will Horwitt

Drawings from the 60's

December 12 - January 19
Opening reception; Thursday, December 12; 6-9pm

Will Horwitt (b. 1934- d.1985)


I first encountered the work of Will Horwitt in the home of a collector. The work in question was placed high on a wall and shared company with, among other things, a Judd print. It was a black ink line drawing executed with a brush, composed of overlapping rounded off square shapes, one set upon another, minimal and pure. This drawing, more than any other of the many works in the entire room, captured my attention. At that same time, I also came to discover his bronze and wood sculptures which were equally compelling. What happened to this voice, I wondered, why had I not heard of Horwitt?

When I was able to see more of these drawings, my appreciation of the work grew. I discovered a zen-like concentration in the controlled but exploratory quality of the line in his drawings, which ranged from vulnerable ragged tangles, to monolithic textural masses incised or defined by thick ribbons of ink. Other drawings seemed to map out pathways over propositional forms, some suggesting folds, others rings of sculptural line. In some, one senses the figure, in others, a random displacement of rocks on a forest floor. The drawings on display in this show set a quiet mood and evoke a feeling of purity and piety, not that of the sublime, but that found in the everyday.

Horwitt’s output related to many currents flowing around him at that time in New York City: which are mentioned below. It was clear from the start that this was work of merit; it needed to be seen. When I first contemplated opening and running a gallery from my building in Bushwick, the first show I wanted to do was Will’s. This, his mature and deeply felt work, had never risen fully to its proper place. I hope to right this fact in some small way with our exhibition of Will’s drawings from the 60’s.

Mary Judge,
Owner/Director Schema Projects



Schema Projects is privileged to present, Will Horwitt, Drawings from the 60’s.

Will Horwitt wrote in his sketchbook in 1977- “to be, not to be seen”. Blending modernism and primitivism, his work yields nothing short of poetry.

Over the course of Will’s too-brief career, drawing played an integral part in his studio practice. His work in sculpture plaster to bronze casting, massive wood pieces, aluminum, stone and finally steel, is strongly reflected in the multitude of drawings he made during his lifetime. Though he worked in a simplified abstract mode reminiscent of Brancusi, Arp and the Asian influence of Noguchi, he continued to do self-portraits throughout his career.

The drawing mediums varied, sometimes india ink, wash and brush, others in pencil and pastel, a strong black on white component dominates although on occasion he integrated color. His late sculptures integrate with incised lines in wood, much of the feeling of his drawings. He said, “Sculpture isn’t about the object, it’s about the space around it.” He might also have added “inside it” as the last steel pieces mediate between interior and exterior space. His sculptural works are drawings in metal and wood.

Will Horwitt was born in New York City in 1934 and grew up in Stockbridge, MA. In 1965 he received the Guggenheim Fellowship for creative sculpture. Three years later he was awarded the Tiffany Purchase Grant. Will Horwitt was living and working in Tribeca when he died of lymphoma at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City at the age of 51.

John Canaday wrote, “Mr. Horwitt is a most gratifying workman. The simplified, subtly warped forms in expressive balances are consistently mindful of Brancusi, but that is a good point of departure. Mr. Horwitt comes through as one of the strongest young sculptors around.” (NY Times, 1965)

His work is included in the collections of Yale University Art Gallery, Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Albright Knox Art Gallery, Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Cornell University, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden the Smithsonian Museum, Washington DC, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Solomon R Guggenheim Museum NYC, the Wadworth Atheneum, Hartford CT, and the private collections of Nelson A Rockefeller, Vera and Albert List, Helen and Robert Benjamin among others.

Will Horwitt was represented in his lifetime by Lee Ault & Company and then Vanderwoude & Tananbaum Gallery. 

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