Black Wires, 1950<img alt="" src="/sites/GovernorsMansion/Exhibitions/PublishingImages/Art-of-Illinois/Koppe-Black-Wires-lg.jpg" style="BORDER:0px solid;" />Black Wires, 1950<div class="ExternalClass04FFB1D1A2BB485AA2AD4BD0EDD13CB4"><p>​By combining the flat surface and color of a painting with a sculpture's three-dimensionality, Richard Koppe's <em>Black Wires </em>adds shadow, light, and potentially movement itself as artistic elements. Concretely deconstructing forms into their component planes and lines, it is one of several "constructions" that Koppe made around 1950, when he was exploring spatial relationships in related paintings. Inspired by the interchangeability of theatrical sets, Koppe created <em>Black Wires </em>to allow the insertion of alternate backgrounds that "can be 'played' for the eyes as phonograph records are 'played' for the ears," in his words.</p><p>Working in painting, drawing, and sculpture as well as interior and product design, Koppe believed that "abstract does not exclude a subject." The varied tapered shapes in <em>Black Wires </em>can suggest simultaneously the graceful contours of organic forms, such as birds and leaves, and of man-made objects, from boat hulls and sails to airplane wings and fuselages. Koppe developed his lines and shapes not from conscious reference to these things, however, but "out of the idea of a painting"—that is, on the basis of design principles. This approach reflected the artist's education at the New Bauhaus (now IIT Institute of Design), the revolutionary school founded in Chicago in the late 1930s by modernist artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy.</p><p>Koppe received important fine arts training in his native St. Paul, Minnesota, before studying at the Institute of Design, where he later taught. His work as a fine artist and designer was informed by the school's goal of bridging the two fields and its experimental approach to technology and new materials in both. The taut lines and swooping curves of <em>Black Wires </em>typify the design aesthetic now called mid-century modern, with its emphasis on informality, playfulness, and the intersection of the biomorphic and the industrial.</p></div>GP0|#fc166578-517c-447c-a967-fa0b6549b44c;L0|#0fc166578-517c-447c-a967-fa0b6549b44c|Richard Koppe;GTSet|#6a9f5109-021d-478a-ae73-864102492159;GPP|#9d68cbd3-25f3-49f0-8924-6cbe6cdb2f21;GPP|#be65f490-4890-487c-bb16-c396d99511f7Art;#TemporaryPainting;#Painting Oil on Canvas;#Wood;#Wire;#Oil on canvas, wire, and wood, 32 15⁄16 × 43 × 4¼ inches, Illinois Legacy Collection, Illinois State Museum, Museum Purchase