Oscar's Inclination 2003
Artist: Michael Dunbar (American, b. 1947)
Materials: welded and painted steel
Provenance: Gift of Dr. Christopher Graf
Michael Dunbar lives and works in Springfield, Illinois. After earning his BA from Illinois State University, Dunbar returned to graduate school and obtained a master's degree in Community Arts Management. He began making sculpture in 1972.
Oscar's Inclination seems to be an important transitional piece for the artist. Until the early 2000s Dunbar's "palette'" of form consisted of angular elements that emphasized mass and visual weight. Pieces immediately preceding this work hinted at curvilinear possibilities. With Oscar's Inclination, Dunbar "broke through" to a mature style which incorporates fully articulated curves and begins to value balance and movement over earlier concerns with mass. Dunbar's monumental sculptures’ titles are often tied to music from which he believes they receive their "... sense of implied animation." This work's title, Oscar's Inclination, reflects Dunbar's enthusiasm for jazz and particularly the music of the late, legendary, pianist Oscar Peterson.
The sculptor has also stated that, "Threading through [the] work are the parts of clocks, armillary spheres, astrolabes, sextants, compasses, transits, and other mechanical instruments used to measure time, distance, and space." This work's visual reference to sun-oriented measuring devices is clearly evident to any visitor who happens upon the piece on a sunny afternoon.
Artists who work at a monumental scale often create models of their sculptures in order to work out technical problems before they arise during fabrication of the finished piece. The Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park also owns a maquette, or model, of Oscar's Inclination which effectively demonstrates the artist’s vision for this final version. It is on permanent view in the atrium of the Faculty Office Center (G-Wing).