The J. Paul Getty Museum

Big Skull and Horn in Two Parts II

Object Details


Big Skull and Horn in Two Parts II


Jack Zajac (American, born 1929)







Object Number:



113.7 × 233.7 × 57.2 cm, 217.7266 kg (44 3/4 × 92 × 22 1/2 in., 480 lb.)


© Jack Zajac

Credit Line:

Gift of Fran and Ray Stark

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Object Description

This sculpture representing a ram's skull and horn is at once realistic and abstract. Composed of two parts, one form twists and curves upward, suggesting the distinct, massive horn of a ram. The second, more compact form evokes the long-faced shape of the skull. Its indentations suggest the hollow space of the eye sockets and mouth. But each part also clearly departs from a naturalistic depiction. In fact, it is not the forms themselves but their varied surfaces--furrowed and grained or smooth and polished--that most acutely conjure up a craggy, decaying skeleton. It is as if we have stumbled upon some slightly unfamiliar archeological find.

Jack Zajac's inspiration to sculpt a ram's skull came from casually squeezing balls of wax into shapes he found appealing. According to the artist, he noticed a striking resemblance to an animal's skull in the wax's contours. Zajac then elaborated this form into a more immediately recognizable image. The Ram's Skull series is comprised of fourteen unique sculptures. Several of the sculptures, like this one, are made up of two discrete parts. The decision to separate the skull and horn arose when a plaster Zajac was working on broke in two and he appreciated the effect of this "accident."

Zajac builds his plaster models by hand and carves directly into the surface using hand-axes and chisels. The bronze is then cast from the plaster. Here, the metal's rough-hewn surface accurately reflects the rugged contours of the plaster's exterior.

- 1968

The Landau-Alan Gallery, sold to Fran and Ray Stark, July 24, 1968.

1968 - 1992

Fran Stark and Ray Stark, upon the death of Fran Stark, retained by her husband, Ray Stark, 1992.

1992 - 2004

Ray Stark, upon his death, distributed to the Ray Stark Revocable Trust.

2004 - 2005

The Ray Stark Revocable Trust, donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum.


Boström, Antonia, ed. The Fran and Ray Stark Collection of 20th-Century Sculpture at the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008), pp. 158-61, no. 28, entry by Christopher Bedford.