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Summarising his own career, and quite properly attacking conceptual sculpture - "conceptual art rehashes triviality itself" - and rubbish sculpture, the Norwegian artist Knut Steen titled his autobiographical essay From Garbage to Marble, and identified himself as an apostate garbage collector turned marble carver and bronze modeller.
"Garbage collector" because of his frist job on leaving school was to drive a horse and cart for the Oslo Public Cleansing Department. Then, unfit for military service (this astonishingly powerful stone carver operates on only one lung, the other having long since succumbed to tuberculosis), he had a wartime job as a porter in the Oslo Accident Hospital.
For all that, as he pointed out in his essay "the artist exist outside the world of art" and the inevitable happened. As soon as he was free, he began to sculpt, to draw and to make prints - more often than not concerned with the human form, though in such work as the fountain recently set up at the Sheraton Hotel at Sandvika, he relies on stylised leaf and shell forms.
He chooses his marble, his chief medium, as much for the colour and veining as for texture; and this he then works often to a near-transparent thickness which makes the stone seem to breathe, and gives it a lightness which makes it appear likely to blow away in a light breeze. Like Brancusi (to my view th God of sculpture as was Rembrandt the God of Western painting), Steen believes, and exeemplifies that belief in his best work, "that carving is the true way of sculpture".
He expresses himself in other media too - in drawing and graphics. "Three compulsions I cannot control. I want to see the marble float in the air. I want to feel the bronze move under my hand. I want to make something living leap out of the piece of paper". I once heard Brancusi, standing amid his creations, spell it out even more forcefully. "Here I give you pure joy!"
Max Wykes - Joyce
Member, International Association of Art Critics
London Art Critic, International Heral Tribune