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Thaddeus Mosley
February 29–July 24, 2020
Online Viewing Room

I work mostly in wood, so the kind of art I make is hard to produce in a place like New York, anyway. In western Pennsylvania, there are a lot of saw mills, so there’s always a lot of wood. When I first started, I wasn’t too particular about the type of wood I used. Basically, I would carve anything. Early on, I got interested in African tribal art and Scandinavian design, just from reading and spending time at the Carnegie Museum,” the artist once recalled. In his sculptures, he creolizes a pan-African language of form that stretches from the European modernist avant-garde across the African diaspora. Many writers have observed Mosley’s works evoke the elongated stepladders of the Dogon people of Mali, and recall the carved wood grave markers in the slave cemeteries of Sunbury, Liberty County in coastal Georgia, inflected with Kongo cosmograms. The resonance with those forms is undeniable, as much as they resound the organic forms of Noguchi, Brancusi, and the Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida. Like Western artists , Mosley reminds us that artisans and makers of the African diaspora were equally preoccupied with metaphysical questions around space, human existence, and nature.

– Jessica Bell Brown, “Singular Forms of Self-Determination,” 2020

Virtual Tour courtesy of Eazel

Thaddeus Mosley
Inclination, 2003
Walnut
55 × 67 × 36 inches; 142 × 170 × 91 cm

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Thaddeus Mosley
Inclination, 2003
Walnut
55 × 67 × 36 inches; 142 × 170 × 91 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Circled Planes, 2016
Walnut, cherry
105 × 42 × 34 inches; 267 × 107 × 86 cm

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Thaddeus Mosley
Circled Planes, 2016
Walnut, cherry
105 × 42 × 34 inches; 267 × 107 × 86 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Enclosure, 2006
Walnut
61 × 25 × 20 inches; 155 × 64 × 51 cm

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Thaddeus Mosley
Enclosure, 2006
Walnut
61 × 25 × 20 inches; 155 × 64 × 51 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Spatial Occupation, 2018
Walnut, cherry
114 × 36 × 28 inches; 290 × 91 × 71 cm

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Thaddeus Mosley
Spatial Occupation, 2018
Walnut, cherry
114 × 36 × 28 inches; 290 × 91 × 71 cm

Thaddeus Mosley in his studio, Pittsburgh. Photo: Tom Little

In the land of the free, one could experience freedom as an individual, through the creation of new forms. In Mosley’s abstraction, fancies of flight and ascendance evidence a kind of strategy of self-determination. Steve Cannon narrates a history of black abstraction through naming artists such as Ed Clark, Sam Gilliam, Mildred Thompson, Joe Overstreet, Jack Whitten, and Al Loving, among others. Many of those artists were known in the circles of New York. But in Pittsburgh, away from the nucleus of the art world, at the age of 28, Mosley began to toil with wood in his home at the end of his days working a full-time job as a postal transportation worker in the city. As a young artist Mosley did not find himself thrust within the center of dialogues on postwar abstraction, though his forms are absolutely conversant with the cohort of artists Cannon celebrates as pushing the politics of abstraction forward.

– Jessica Bell Brown, “Singular Forms of Self-Determination,”, 2020

Thaddeus Mosley
Oval Continuity, 2017
Walnut
35 × 28 × 25 inches; 89 × 71 × 64 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Oval Continuity, 2017
Walnut
35 × 28 × 25 inches; 89 × 71 × 64 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Region in Suspension, 1996
Walnut
88 × 72 × 48 inches; 224 × 183 × 122 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Region in Suspension, 1996
Walnut
88 × 72 × 48 inches; 224 × 183 × 122 cm

Thaddeus Mosley home, Pittsburgh. Photo: Tom Little

Thad Mosley
A friend since forever.
This work refers to Black cemeteries in Georgia,
probably forgotten,
however. Thad and I go way back.
In Pittsburgh he’s known for the Sentinels, the guard;
Thad is the Sentinel.
He was a jazz critic, post-man, father, keeper of trees anywhere
old trees, round trees, big trees, heavy trees.
Thad is not very big,
he is short and close to the ground.
Thad is the forest.
We talk often to summarize and to keep it going.
Thad is always there, fresh, new, FOREVER.
Congratulations.

– Sam Gilliam, 2020

Thaddeus Mosley
Closed Chimes, 2009
Walnut, metal balls
54 × 19 × 14 inches; 137 × 48 × 36 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Closed Chimes, 2009
Walnut, metal balls
54 × 19 × 14 inches; 137 × 48 × 36 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Curved Suspend, 2013
Walnut, cherry
30 × 36 × 28 inches; 76 × 91 × 71 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Curved Suspend, 2013
Walnut, cherry
30 × 36 × 28 inches; 76 × 91 × 71 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Totem for Nabta Playa, 2016
Walnut
85 × 27 × 21 inches; 216 × 69 × 53 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Totem for Nabta Playa, 2016
Walnut
85 × 27 × 21 inches; 216 × 69 × 53 cm

Thaddeus Mosley home, Pittsburgh. Photo: Tom Little

“There is something positively antediluvian about Thaddeus Mosley’s subterranean studio located in the cavernous, low-ceilinged, basement of a warehouse in an industrial park in Pittsburgh. Densely packed with art, tools, and raw material—including whole trees and other salvaged stuff—the space also seems to characterize the city itself, the rivers and forests of a primordial past, the continuous waves of migration and industry.”

– Ingrid Schaffner, “Introduction,” 2020

Thaddeus Mosley
Components, 2017
Walnut, cherry
49 × 24 × 24 inches; 124 × 61 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Components, 2017
Walnut, cherry
49 × 24 × 24 inches; 124 × 61 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Perge Modo, 2005
Walnut
89 × 56 × 29 inches; 226 × 142 × 74 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Perge Modo, 2005
Walnut
89 × 56 × 29 inches; 226 × 142 × 74 cm

Thaddeus Mosley home, Pittsburgh. Photo: Tom Little

“The fact is, a tree moves, only at speeds that are not perceptible to the time of our eyes. It reaches for food, it gets a drink, moves into the warmth of sunlight too slowly for us to notice—except in the calligraphy of its grain. We are in awe of its movement in a strong wind, for instance: the control of its balance through structure and flexibility into a choreography that is as instructive as any war dance or balletic tale like Stravinsky’s “Rite.” And should the tree have a limb ripped off, we are, after a while again, awed to see it knot over the absence into a kind of decoration. Besides mass, volume, and scale, these are the lines, colors, and shapes through which Thad Mosley sculpts his visions in three dimensions.”

– Ed Roberson, “Thad Mosley Sculpture,”2020

Thaddeus Mosley
Vertical Phase,2010
Walnut
59 × 21 × 19 inches; 150 × 53 × 48 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Vertical Phase,2010
Walnut
59 × 21 × 19 inches; 150 × 53 × 48 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Cross Current, 2014
Walnut, cherry
92 × 48 × 20 inches; 231 × 104 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Cross Current, 2014
Walnut, cherry
92 × 48 × 20 inches; 231 × 104 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Branched Form, 2017
Walnut
98 × 34 × 24 inches; 249 × 86 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Branched Form, 2017
Walnut
98 × 34 × 24 inches; 249 × 86 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Inverted Dancer, 2007
Bass, hickory
102 × 36 × 21 inches; 259 × 91 × 53 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Inverted Dancer, 2007
Bass, hickory
102 × 36 × 21 inches; 259 × 91 × 53 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Directional, 2015
Walnut
73 × 53 × 53 inches; 185 × 135 × 13 cm

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Thaddeus Mosley
Directional, 2015
Walnut
73 × 53 × 53 inches; 185 × 135 × 13 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Masked Extension, 2011
Walnut, cherry
48 × 52 × 26 inches; 122 × 132 × 66 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Masked Extension, 2011
Walnut, cherry
48 × 52 × 26 inches; 122 × 132 × 66 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Propelled Simulation, 2001
Railroad switch, walnut, red sandstone
101 × 74 × 18 inches; 246 × 239 × 81 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Propelled Simulation, 2001
Railroad switch, walnut, red sandstone
101 × 74 × 18 inches; 246 × 239 × 81 cm

I like to make things that people can live with. What may still be unrealized are better ideas and better execution of those pieces. Sometimes I think they’re going to turn out better than they do, so I have to accept what I’ve done. I don’t think there is unlimited talent. At least I don’t have it. I remember I always told my students that the first art is the art of sacrifice and of learning to live with what you make. That doesn’t mean you don’t try to get better, but there is joy and sometimes surprise in that acceptance. For me, sculpture is the joy and essence of my life. Of course, it makes a lot of people listen to me because I spend so much time with myself doing what I like. But art is like a complete lifestyle—I can look at work by people I’ve never known or by my friends and I can listen to great music and I’m surrounded by this every day. This is the way I live.

– Thaddeus Mosley in conversation with Hans-Ulrich Obrist, 2020

Thaddeus Mosley home, Pittsburgh. Photo: Brett Littman

“The sculptures contain a trace of the artist’s process and a reminder of their objectness. Likewise, when using found metal, Mosley has stated, “I never weld these pieces or alter them. By incorporating them into a sculpture, I change their context; then they come alive in a new way.” These objects thus all retain the history of their locations and original uses, even as Mosley transforms them into artworks.

– Connie H. Choi, “Site and Source,” 2020

Thaddeus Mosley
Floating World, 2010
Walnut
65 × 42 × 17 inches; 165 × 107 × 43 cm

On Reserve

Thaddeus Mosley
Floating World, 2010
Walnut
65 × 42 × 17 inches; 165 × 107 × 43 cm

Thaddeus Mosley studio, Pittsburgh. Photo: Brett Littman

I’ve always had this idea that everyone would like to make something, whether it’s art or a fish dinner, because making something is an expression of yourself. That’s what makes art really interesting for me—I’m discovering what I can or can’t do. That idea of self-discovery and of finding out how far I’m willing to go in a certain direction or how long I’m willing to pursue an idea is very important to me. People ask me all the time, ‘What are you working on now?’ and I tell them that I’m just trying to make the same thing look a little different.

– Thaddeus Mosley in conversation with Hans-Ulrich Obrist

Thaddeus Mosley
Geometric Plateau, 2014
Walnut, cherry
92 × 80 × 27 inches; 239 × 178 × 61 cm

On Reserve

Thaddeus Mosley
Geometric Plateau, 2014
Walnut, cherry
92 × 80 × 27 inches; 239 × 178 × 61 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm

Thaddeus Mosley
Untitled, 2018
Walnut
22 × 12 × 12 inches; 56 × 31 × 31 cm