"Jose de Creeft: Sculpture and Drawings" is a cozy little show with the accent on sculpture. Carvings in lead, bull's horn, semiprecious stone, elm, oak, marble, bronze and ceramic-and-shell highlight the show of 65 works opening Friday at the Museum of American Art.
The sculptures' beauty lies in their simple, fluid lines. De Creeft, a Spanish-born naturalized American who died in New York last year, specialized in expressive, small rounded forms. His wood sculptures follow the grain; elbows and knees bend with the wood's curves. He passed up air hammers, working by hand on stone pieces to find emotion in rocks. In "Cat of my Concierge" a cement body is decorated with a key-chain necklace, glass eyes, wire whiskers and an electrical knob for a mouth.
A self-portrait in bronze grins as though it just heard a good joke. (The show's co- curator says de Creeft had a spontaneous personality: "He'd dress up in Don Quixote costume, then switch and be a hobo." This wild streak doesn't quite show up in his works.)
De Creeft borrowed some Cubist angles and experimented with found objects, but mainly polished off smooth carvings that evoke time-honored themes: love, desire, maternity, children. In "The Cloud," his most famous piece, two intertwined figures float by in greenstone.
Some of the drawings correspond to the sculptures although none is a preparatory study for a three-dimensional work. Most are unrelated and a few, like "Wet Dog," hint at his whimsical side. JOSE DeCREEFT: SCULPTURE & DRAWINGS -- At the Museum of American Art through June 19.