Situated in one of the sculpture park’s more private spaces is Gordon Gund’s cast bronze sculpture, Flukes. Beautiful and graceful in its form, Flukes is inspired by an encounter Gund had with pilot whales on Nantucket Island a few summers ago. A group of whales had come ashore, and the artist, along with scientists attempting to redirect the pod, had an opportunity to feel the tail of one of the whales. For Gund this was a meaningful opportunity because as a young adult he was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa which eventually left him blind. The ability to examine up close such a magnificent mammal allowed Gund to interpret and translate into bronze what he “saw” with his hands. Flukes effectively captures “the power and massiveness of the tail of a whale” as well as the “power of the musculature, and the torque of the speed which can emerge from these multi-ton animals as they swim, dive and surface in the waters off Nantucket.”1
Gund is predominantly known for his successful endeavors as a businessman and investor, the former owner of the NBA team Cleveland Cavaliers, and a prominent philanthropist. While exposed to art at an early age-Gund still remembers attending Saturday morning art classes at The Cleveland Museum of Art with his siblings-he only recently began his artistic career. Gund’s interest in sculpture grew when a friend introduced him to wood carving-his first carvings were of shorebirds, fish and seals. Like Flukes, these early works capture the essence of the form rather than recreate a realistic rendition of the species. Working with professional sculptors, Gund continued to expand his sculptural capabilities by learning how to build and ready armatures for plaster and bronze castings. Similarly, the artist has had opportunity to explore works by other sculptors through touch including the works of Constantin Brancusi during a retrospective exhibition held at the Guggenheim Museum in 2004.
Born in 1939 in Cleveland, OH, Gund was educated at the Groton School in Massachusetts and later attended Harvard University. He has also received a number of honorary doctorates from Gőteburg University, Sweden; the University of Maryland; Whittier College in California and the University of Vermont. Gund is the co-founder and chairman of The Foundation Fighting Blindness, and is the chairman and CEO of Gund Investment Corporation in Princeton, NJ and Gund Business Enterprises of Cleveland, OH. Since 1986, he has served as the Director of the Kellogg Company of Battle Creek , MI and 1990, Corning Incorporated of Corning, NY. His many awards and honors include Research!America’s 2006 Volunteer Advocacy Award and induction into the Cleveland “Inside Business” Hall of Fame in 2005.
1Sharon Lorenzo, “Multi-talented Gund turns attention to sculpture,” The Inquirer and Mirror, Nantucket, Mass., 10 August 2006, D14.
cast bronze, 1/7
72" x 72" x 45"
Courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc.
Photo: Ricardo Barros.com
70 1/2" x 48" x 30 1/4"
Loan courtesy of the Artist