JOSEPH ZIRKER: Sculptures, Drawings, Watercolors, & Prints



Image: Detail from The White Tower, 2009 (wood, plastic and paper with writing)

Photo by: Kathy Kane



Opening Reception | Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017| 6 - 9 pm 

On view | Oct. 7th - Nov. 17th



Art is very important ...it's a deep reflection of life. It's also a way of going beyond what you normally consider as reality. Reality is very deceptive. Reality is often what others decide it is for you. Art propels you beyond that ... gives you a vision of your own depth .... What makes you alive.


-Joseph Zirker


Many of us live in keen anticipation for retirement in our sixties. Not artists. For them, as long as they can hold a brush, click a camera shutter or pull an impression of a print, their creativity continues strengthened by their years of experience and knowledge. So it is with Joseph Zirker.


Now in his nineties, Zirker continues his distinguished career of invention, innovation and artistic originality. With certain artists later in their careers such as Cezanne, Picasso, and Guston; they embarked upon a "don't give a damn," period when their art shifted into an expressionistic style signifying emotional freedom. Joseph Zirker has also tossed convention to the winds as he lets his art speak truth to power in this unsettled world.


Joseph Zirker has always melded his abstracted compositions with aspects of observed reality. His elegant mechanistic and robotic monotypes created in an array of subtle blacks, grays, and blues belie his apprehension about the increasing domination of technology in our time at the expense of simple humanity. Raymond Chandler poignantly observed, "Without magic there is no art. Without art there is no idealism. Without idealism there is no integrity. Without integrity there is nothing but production." Zirker has spent his whole career expressing the magic of his imagination.


In the 1976 film, "Network," Howard Beale shouted, "I'm mad as Hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" In response to the election of Donald Trump as President, Zirker fashioned two unapologetic sculptures denouncing Trump, one even equating his personality and rhetoric to Hitler. It is common sense for most of us to refrain from the "H-word" in an argument for fear of appearing extreme. Not Zirker. As a twelve-year-old he remembers seeing newsreels of Hitler expressing disgust as Jesse Owens triumphed at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. For Zirker that past is not just history, it is his memory. His art is his sword and shield against injustice as he sees it. I am in awe of his righteous anger.


- Robert Flynn Johnson

  Curator Emeritus

  Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts

  Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco  



We hope you can join us in celebration with the artist, hosted at our San Anselmo location October 7th from 6-9pm!