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New York-based sculptor Robert Lobe was raised in Cleveland, OH and was educated at Oberlin College and Hunter College. Inspired by the shapes, materials, and textures found almost specifically in the woods, he depicts rocks and trees in shimmering, hollow forms using heat-treated, hammered aluminum. The signature process Lobe uses is an adaptation of repoussé, an ancient technique in which metal is hammered, usually from the inside, to create designs or shapes.
Lobe encases trees and rocks in sheets of aluminum, using mallets and a pneumatic air compressor to stretch and tighten the metal. Through the force of repetitive blows from the hammers, Lobe alters the structure of the aluminum until it conforms snugly to the texture of the rock or tree, exposing its interior volume. The new surface replicates and abstracts the contours and thus enhances the play of light and shadow on the aluminum skin.
In October 2008, Lux installed a sculpture by Lobe on the grounds of its five-acre site. Mother Maple portrays the trunk of a tree, a branch, and a large boulder. Created by Lobe in 1988, it measures an impressive 120” high by 123” wide by 108” deep and weighs 500 pounds. Complementing Bucket with Abstraction, a smaller sculpture by Lobe in the Lux library, Mother Maple was moved into place near the top of Lux’s granite trail and is on loan to the Institute through October 17, 2010.
Lobe’s work has been commissioned and exhibited in galleries and museums across the country, including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York City; National Gallery, Washington, D.C.; Cleveland Museum of Art, OH; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX; and Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN.
He has received a variety of awards and prizes including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Creative Artists Public Service Award, an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant, and a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Award.