The sculpture to the left is by Robert Graham. This statue, like others by Graham, is titled Untitled Torso. He did hundreds of untitled torsos. It’s a signature shape, establishing his reputation for sculpting large female and male figures.
This torso is made of solid aluminum, in irregular small sections pieced together as interlocking blocks. The seams are so precise, it seems as one piece. The fit of blocks, the shape, the power, the shine, the shadow and the illusion of movement are hard to resist.
Fun facts: Graham was born in Mexico. His father died when he was six years old. Afterwards, his mother, grandmother, aunt and he immigrated to San Jose. Graham schooled in art at San Jose State and the San Francisco Art Institute.
Graham sculpted the figures topping the entrance gate of the Los Angeles Coliseum for the 1984 Olympics. He also sculpted Duke Ellington playing piano, held aloft by a circle of ladies with outstretched overhead arms. That tribute sculpture stands at 110th Street, gateway to Harlem from Central Park’s northeast corner in New York City.
The sculpture of Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Graham honors the president and Americans with disabilities. Located halfway between the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials on the National Mall in Washington, DC, it is somewhat controversial, as it shows FDR in a wheelchair. The wheelchair was one the president designed. The president did not allow himself to be photographed using a wheelchair or crutches.
Graham’s statue of Joe Louis in St. Louis is simply a fist. That fist is 24 feet long and 24 feet high. The fist is symbolic of Louis’ punching power and efforts to break through barriers of prejudice and segregation.
Graham’s pieces were heavily collected by the rich and famous in “the industry,”—the entertainment industry. He was dubbed “Los Angeles’ sculptor.” He lived in Venice, CA and married Anjelica Huston. Yes, that Anjelica Huston—director John Huston’s daughter, Mick Jagger’s London party-set companion and Jack Nicholson’s on and off partner for 17 years.
Huston and Graham were reportedly happily married 16 years when he passed away in 2008. I am pleased to have permission to write about this sculpture residing on the outskirts of Healdsburg on a private estate, photographed in summer light.