“Dana Younger: Contemporary Figurative Works” at the Elisabet Ney Museum

This show of new clay-based sculptures contrasts smartly with Elisabet Ney's marble statuary, and its breadth of style is stunning


Franzisca Bernadina Wilhelmina Elisabeth Ney – or, as we tag her 'round these parts, Elisabet Ney – was a celebrated German-American sculptor who spent the first half of her life and career in Europe and then moved to Austin in 1872 and became a pioneer in the development of art here. (She was one of those, you know, immigrants.)

Dana Younger, on the other hand, is a much-traveled military brat originally from Arkansas, who's spent a powerful passel of years in Austin helping found and run Blue Genie Art Industries and wrangling creatives for Texas Parks & Wildlife. He's also an artist in his own right – primarily a sculptor – and currently has a show up in one of the rooms at Hyde Park's outstanding den of antiquity, the Elisabet Ney Museum.

This is what we call Highly Effective Temporal Sequencing as Regards Displaying Works of Art.

Because you can go to the Ney Museum right now (and through Nov. 5) and see the sculpture that the Teutonic transplant wrought in the late 1800s, which will likely astonish you with the skill of its rendering and the fame of some of its subjects and the sheer beauty of its material – much shaped marble to marvel at, for instance – and get an idea of how three-dimensional portraiture was undertaken back in the day. And then you can go into the adjoining room where Younger's works are on display and get a similarly impressed feel for how some things are done, by those who do them well, in figurative sculpture these days.

Younger's creations are more additive than subtractive, for all that excision must be involved; the final busts and other portions of human anatomy are more often based on the building up of clay and other materials rather than being carved Ney-like from, say, towering chunks of marble. And so does the artist's expressive practice add to the body of sculpture in the world, his precise, mostly monochrome renderings of friends and associates providing a glimpse at contemporary methods and manners even while offering a unique Younger's-eye perspective on the depiction of the human form. On the room's far wall, that vision has been turned back on itself: a self-portrait of a much younger Younger, with a bust and torso front and center and foregrounding a framelike array of body parts that disappear into (or extend from) the wall like some mutant superhero caught in mid-phase through the museum's storied verticals. Or, to be more hifalutin, like the history of art relentlessly shifting itself, piece by piece, time after time, into the plane of greater existence.

Reckon a visit to the Elisabet Ney Museum while Dana Younger's show is up, while the new is punctuating the old, will make the plane of your own existence a little greater, too, neighbor: The breadth of style there is stunning, the depth of substance quite substantial.


“Dana Younger: Contemporary Figurative Works”

Elisabet Ney Museum, 304 E. 44th, 512/974-1625
www.austintexas.gov/elisabetney
Through Nov. 5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Elisabet Ney Museum
"Heidi Pitre: A Permanent Record" at Elisabet Ney Museum
The artist's finely drawn illustrations on used library cards link viewers to books and libraries in ways both nostalgic and intimate

Robert Faires, May 31, 2019

"Whitney Turetzky: Feminine Grandeur" at the Elisabet Ney
In the way she transforms antique photographs of anonymous women, Turetzky elevates their subjects' status to something holy and sacred

Marisa Charpentier, Nov. 2, 2018

More Arts Reviews
<i>Running</i> by Natalia Sylvester
Running by Natalia Sylvester
Natalia Sylvester’s YA debut makes the political personal

Rosalind Faires, Oct. 30, 2020

Blue Lapis Light's <i>Beyond the Clouds</i>
Blue Lapis Light's Beyond the Clouds
This aerial dance company's production brought its dancers down to earth but still lifted us up

Robert Faires, Oct. 30, 2020

More by Wayne Alan Brenner
Swoop House’s Hospitality Honcho Has All the Luck
Swoop House’s Hospitality Honcho Has All the Luck
Stephen Shallcross carries on with Happy Foods and De Nada and more

Oct. 30, 2020

Voter Rewards Continue, Arlo Grey Returns, Treaty Oak Distilling Expands BBQ Team, and What the Hell Is Going On in <i>Boise</i>?
Voter Rewards Continue, Arlo Grey Returns, Treaty Oak Distilling Expands BBQ Team, and What the Hell Is Going On in Boise?
All the news that’s fit to get your taste buds quivering

Oct. 28, 2020

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Elisabet Ney Museum, Elisabet Ney, Dana Younger, Blue Genie Art Industries

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle