Joseph Havel

Parrot Architecture

Dallas Contemporary
April 16 – August 21, 2022

Joseph Havel, Parrot Architecture, 2022, Installation view, Dallas Contemporary

Houston-based sculptor Joseph Havel presents Parrot Architecture, an exhibition of never-before-seen wall assemblages and totemic bronze and resin sculptures, made with the help of his pet parrot Hannah during the pandemic. The works on show are a lasting legacy of their collaboration while also offering critical commentary on the environmental impact of the global health crisis on engendered species.

For decades, Texan artist Joseph Havel’s sculptural practice has been rooted in the exploration of the quotidian, casting domestic objects such as shirts, books, bedsheets and curtains in bronze and resin. His exhibition at Dallas Contemporary turns to his everyday lived experience of the pandemic, which he experienced side-by-side with his African gray parrot, Hannah. The works on view – large-scale wall assemblages and never-before-seen resin and bronze totem-like sculptures – began five years ago but evolved and strengthened throughout the course of the global health crisis with the help of the artist’s pet. 

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Joseph Havel’s sculptural practice is rooted in an exploration of the quotidian. Domestic objects such as shirts, books, bedsheets, and curtains are cast in bronze and polyurethane resin, taking on neoclassical forms that suggest the human body and social histories of use without dictating any particular reading to the viewer. Rather, the works evoke open-ended visual poetry: their significance comes from their form, materiality, and presence. His series of shirt-label paintings interrogates the boundary between objecthood and the illusionist space of the picture plane, approaching minimalism and geometric abstraction with a post-modernist’s critical stance. Unifying Havel’s various bodies of work is his distinctive post-minimal aesthetic, marked by a sense of quiet gravity and open-ended investigation of critical questions.  

Joseph Havel (b. 1954, Minneapolis) earned his BFA from the University of Minnesota in 1975, and his M.F.A. from Pennsylvania State University in 1979. Havel is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2013 Texas Visual Artist as recognized by The Texas Commission for the Arts and Texas State Legislature; the 2010 Texas Artist of the Year as recognized by Art League Houston; the 2008 Dallas Contemporary Legends Award; the 2004 Artadia Fellowship; the 1999 Cultural Arts Council of Houston Artist’s Award; the 1998 American Institute of Architects, Houston, Artist’s Award; the 1995 Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award; and the 1987 National Endowment for the Arts Artist’s Fellowship. Havel’s sculptures and drawings are included in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Laumeier Sculpture Park, St. Louis; The Menil Collection, Houston; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; the Contemporary Arts Museum, Honolulu; the Dallas Museum of Art; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth; Musée Arte, Roubaix, France; S.M.A.K. Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Ghent; and the Whitney Museum of American Art.  The artist lives and works in Houston, Texas, and currently serves as the Director of the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.