Rediscovering the playful 1980s sculpture of Robert Cronin.
I first discovered the work of Robert Cronin while researching the career of the Toronto Art Dealer Alkis Klonaridis. Alkis worked at the legendary Mirvish Gallery from 1964-78, before setting out on his own to found Klonaridis inc., Alkis was well know for his incredible eye, his sensitivity to colour and form and love of formal abstraction.
Cronin’s sculptures were immediately exciting to me. Having been immersed in the world of late-modernism, dealing with artists such as Jack Bush, William Perehudoff, Jules Olitski, Kenneth Noland, and others, Cronin’s playful use of colour and the dexterity with which he creates depth and form in metal rang true with my formal sensibilities, and in the words of Clement Greenberg ‘the endless pursuit of quality’. Here was not only an artist who rubbed elbows with some of the greats of second generation post-war abstraction (he knew many of the above artists personally), he had managed to create a visual vocabulary and language that was all his own. At once parts Calder and Mattisse, Cronin’s stabiles satisfy the aesthetic criteria that lovers of abstraction crave - unexpected but pleasing colour combinations, forms and shapes which shift and morph as the view moves around the sculpture, creating ‘moments’ that are sometimes unexpected and delightful. In ‘Limehouse Blues’ for example, Cronin places just a tiny blip of purple on the back of the work that only becomes visible at certain angles, and as you rotate around the sculpture and that little purple bit ‘pops’, the experience of the sculpture is stretched from 3 to 4 dimensions. It is this sense of composition and playfulness that I find unique and enticing in Cronin’s work, and I hope to share this sparkle with collectors.