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John Nesset

Renowned for the uncompromising purity of his craftsmanship, the Minneapolis woodworker John Nesset works almost entirely with hand tools, some of which he makes himself. Exhibited are two of his benches, both of them ennobled by the patina of age and use, a finish that you cannot buy. The skewed and canted legs of I am Nature, a powerful work made from a single broad plank of white ash, are joined to the top with compound-angle, hand-cut dovetails. The joints are structurally audacious, their angles dramatically poised near the point of collapse, but they are nonetheless incredibly strong. The warring impulses to sculpt expressionistically and at the same time design for the stresses of use are held in tension here as in no other piece in the show. Nesset writes that the title of the bench alludes to Jackson Pollock’s reply to a critic who complained that he painted not from nature but from his own imagination. Pollock fired back, “I am nature.” The bench in pine is a quieter design, but its proportions, the placement of its supports, and its understated details, like the notched setbacks worked onto the uprights right before they join the underside of the seat, have perfect pitch.

— From Glenn Gordon's essay, Sculpture Designed to be Used.

  • John Nesset, Pine Bench
    Pine Bench, 1992. Ponderosa pine. 14 1/2" H x 48" W x 16" D.