Big Skull and Horn in Two Parts II
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© Jack Zajac
Gift of Fran and Ray Stark

Jack Zajac
American, 1963
44 3/4 x 92 x 22 1/2 in.

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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.