CEO of T.W. Dick Steel Co. Mrs. Myrtle Willey and Curator Robert Katz at Sasson Soffer exhibit, UMA, 1983; Photo by Bruce Armstrong © Sasson Soffer Foundation
HALLOWELL, MAINE — The Harlow, in partnership with the Sasson Soffer Foundation, is pleased to present a survey of work by artist Sasson Soffer (b. 1925 Baghdad, Iraq – d. 2009, New York, NY). Sasson Soffer, Monumental Dream offers an illuminating overview of Soffer’s production from the late 1950s to 1990s, including a range of works on paper, paintings, sculptures and documental material. Interwoven throughout both floors of the The Harlow, the exhibition explores Soffer’s sculptures as an effort to turn his dreams into reality, whereas his paintings and works on paper attempt to turn reality into dreams, fantasies, and wish fulfillment. Sasson Soffer: Monumental Dream is on view March 30 – April 28, 2018 at 100 Water Street in Hallowell with a public opening reception on Friday, March 30, 5-7pm.
“I had a dream of the accidental elegance of nature. I had a dream of lolling, twisting shapes. I had a dream of amoebae and insects and a prehistoric garden, the paradise of another world. I had a dream in which I fell asleep and dreamed of machines in motion, and then I awoke, still dreaming, and sketched the sweep of their dumb automation. I had a dream of metal growing from the ground, as plants grow in the earth, as crystals grow in caverns. I had a dream of color and rust. I had a dream of ice and silt. I dreamed all these dreams, and in dreaming them I scooped them from the abyss of my mind and made them conscious and true.” J.C. Hallman
Sasson Soffer, “Amen”, 1983, mild steel, 24′ x 17’7″ x 9’5″, © Sasson Soffer Foundation, Photography by Bruce Armstrong
Sasson Soffer was an Iraqi Arab of Jewish descent. Soffer was compelled to leave Iraq during the events surrounding the creation of the State of Israel, post–World War II. In 1948 Soffer went into hiding, ultimately escaping to Iran, then to the United States via Israel. Between 1950 – 1954, Soffer was enrolled at CUNY Brooklyn College in Brooklyn, New York. There he studied under various artists including Ad Reinhardt, Burgoyne Diller and Mark Rothko. Rothko would eventually become a lifelong friend and mentor. Soffer dedicated the early part of his career to abstract painting. He had his first solo exhibit in 1958 at the Artist’s Gallery in New York City. He was also featured in Art in America’s New Talent Issue in 1962.
In 1956, Soffer was invited to visit Maine by a group of early Skowhegan artists, among them the sculptor Bernard Langlais, with whom he became good friends. Soffer came to enjoy his time in Maine and purchased property in Somerville as a summer home. The Somerville house turned out to have a leaning chimney and when Soffer went to steel fabricator T.W. Dick Co. in Gardiner, Maine to inquire about a metal brace, owner Ralph Dick suggested that since Soffer was an artist he should try to make the brace himself. Ralph Dick died in 1968 and Myrtle Willey took over the mill. From 1968 to 1976, Mrs. Willey served as Executive Vice President of T.W. Dick Co. and, in 1976, became President. It was at T.W. Dick Co., where Soffer was introduced to welding and steel fabrication. For over 30 years Soffer collaborated with T.W. Dick Co. in the production of his large scale sculptures. For Soffer, Myrtle Willey represented continuity and continued opportunity. In 1983, the University of Maine at Augusta staged Soffer’s exhibition of monumental outdoor steel sculptures, which was organized by Robert Katz who is currently Professor of Art in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Maine at Augusta.
In the early 1960s, Soffer began to focus more on three-dimensional works and over the years perfected the art of inducing industry to play a critical role in his artistic efforts. In doing so, Soffer was able to work with steel yards in Philadelphia and Indianapolis, a ceramics factory in Japan, and a textile mill in France where they produced his tapestries.
Sasson Soffer, Untitled, 1978, ink on paper, 23 x 35 in, © Sasson Soffer Foundation
Soffer’s work has been included in group exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts; Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut; OK Harris, New York; and Carnegie International. Soffer’s solo exhibitions include presentations at the Betty-Parsons Gallery, New York; Poindexter Gallery, New York; John Daniels Gallery, New York; Portland Museum of Fine Arts, Portland, Maine; and Galerie Birch, Copenhagen, Denmark. Public collections in which Soffer’s work is represented include the Whitney Museum, New York; The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio; Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indiana; Chase Manhattan Bank, New York; and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
This exhibit is presented by The Harlow in association with The Sasson Soffer Foundation and
curated by Brigita Krasauskaite of Foreign Territories (Art Advisory.) All visuals are subject to copyright. All reproduction is subject to the authorization of the Sasson Soffer Foundation.
The Harlow is a membership based 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to connecting and celebrating art, artists and community in downtown historic Hallowell since 1963. Exhibitions are always free and open to the public. Hours are Wednesday-Saturday noon-6pm.
In 1998, the Sasson Soffer Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit organization to promote patronage of sculpture and painting; to sponsor art exhibits; and to advance public interest in the works of Sasson Soffer.
The Harlow is supported by Camden National Bank, the City of Hallowell, Kennebec Savings Bank, The Liberal Cup and The Maine House, the Roxanne Quimby Foundation and by our members. Season Sponsors for 2018 are Book Orchard Press, Capitol Dental Care, Chris Walters Productions, Doug & Melinda Jennings, Eaton Peabody Attorneys at Law, Scrummy Afters Candy Shoppe, Slates Restaurant and Target Electric Corporation. Programming is funded in part by a Partnership Grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Art.