William Tunberg Iconic Marquetry Sculpture Los Angeles USA

January 27, 2018 by Laura Gomez

In creating marquetry sculpture, Tunberg calls upon his lifelong love of assemblage and classical drawing. Tunberg‘s materials are exotic natural and dyed veneers that he fragments, assembles, and reassembles, then laminates over complex sculptural forms of his own devising. Tunberg considers the resulting imagery as personal narratives expressed in his own language and mode of communication.

Tunberg pioneered the use of marquetry in abstract expressionism and fine art sculpture. In doing so, Tunberg created a powerful new art form.

 


Hibiscus Fan Chair
 

Historically, during the time of Louis XIV, marquetry was the most highly prized of all arts. Marquetry was used as a decorative appliqué to furniture and functional objects. In the early 19th century, marquetry was put aside as a very expensive mode of ornamentation.

Except for its logistical complexities, Tunberg‘s use of this classical technique has little in common with traditional marquetry, as traditional marquetry uses floral designs and natural scenes as decorative motifs. Bypassing traditional applications, Tunberg concentrates on fragmenting imagery and arranging the imagery into surreal combinations and juxtapositions to create a dialog of irrational reality.

Though the process demands precision and focus, and is fraught with difficulty and frustration, the results are worth all the effort. Marquetry is unrivaled for sheer beauty and visual drama.

 


Hibiscus Fan Chair
 

 

Artist lnterview:

Name: William Tunberg
Age: 81
Birthday: September 15, 1936

College: University of Southern California. BFA in Architecture (1963); MFA in Sculpture (1965).

Colours: Black and green (but my favorites are always changing).

Books: Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl).

Movie: The Heiress (Olivia de Havilland and Montgomery Clift). All movies with Bette Davis. Everything by Alfred Hitchcock.

Food: Avocados, salads, and chili pot pies.

Quote: A quote by my father, William Tunberg, from the movie Garden of Evil (1954): “I guess if the earth were made of gold, men would die for a handful of dirt.

How long have you been in art? How did you start? I’ve been in art my whole life. I started as a child copying postage stamps. I’ve never considered being anything else. My loves have always been life drawing and assemblage. In the late-’80s I started using marquetry in my assemblages and it soon became my dominant medium. I think this is because it was extremely difficult to use in fine art sculpture, and it became an overwhelming challenge to bridge the gap between the decorative and fine arts.

How would you define yourself as an artist? Disciplined.

 


 

Would you tell us some things about yourself? Please include a few little known facts about you as well. I was born in Los Angeles and raised in Southern Oregon by my grandparents. My father was a screenwriter in Hollywood and suffered financially during the late-’40s and early-’50s because of the HUAC. I moved 27 times before I finished high school and was shuffled between my parents and grandparents. My grandmother was a religious zealot, but my grandfather was the polar opposite. He showered me with love and taught me many things — fishing, hunting, construction. He was an ideal father figure. When I graduated from high school, I attended three different colleges, all on scholarships. I obtained a scholarship to USC for my final 1.5 years and obtained my BFA in architecture. The Dean offered me a fellowship for graduate school and I obtained my MFA in sculpture. I’ve worked all of my life. One of the most exciting jobs I’ve had was that of a supernumerary in the San Francisco Opera. It was a non-singing part in Turandot by Puccini. I was the executioner waving the scimitar, standing 7′ tall. After I graduated in the mid-’60s, I established my studio in Venice. As I was becoming an established artist, I worked many different jobs. I worked as a bodyguard for George Hearst during the Herald Examiner newspaper strike, for Ed Kienholz as a studio assistant, for Pierre Adige moving explosives, and as a bouncer. Eventually I became a life drawing instructor at colleges in Oregon and California. By the early-’80s, I was a firmly-established artist in Venice.

 


Plumeria Egypt Chairs

 


Plumeria Egypt Chairs
 

Where do you find inspiration? In my wife, Camille.

What are you trying to communicate with your art? I try to convey, in an abstract fashion, cultural dichotomies. For example, I created a sculpture Kanzashi, which uses profiles of Geishas, their hair, and the combs used to keep their hair in place. These combs are beautiful adornments, but are also used as self-defense weapons.

What art do you most identify with? For sculpture, I don’t identify with other art. I’ve established a uniqueness in contemporary fine art sculpture by using marquetry as my medium and employing its ancient techniques. I haven’t seen other sculptors using marquetry in this fashion. For drawing, I identify with Ingres.

Why do you do … what you do? I don’t know. I was born this way. I’ve never done anything else.

What does “being creative” mean to you? Being creative means being innovative.

Any shows, galleries, or publications where our readers can find your work? My work can be found on my website at www.williamtunberg.com. My work can also be found at Fabrik Projects, www.fabrikprojects.com.

How do you cultivate a collector base? By word of mouth.

Which is your most cherished piece? My most cherished piece is the piece I’m working on. Once it’s finished, I set it free. It’s born and then it goes off on its own.

If you had an exclusive collective exhibition with other artists work, who would you choose? Ed Kienholz, Joseph Cornell, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, and Norman Rockwell.

What do you see as the strengths of your pieces, visually or conceptually? Abstracted marquetry images over 3-D forms. Mixing frenetic action with quiet spaces.

What aspect of your work do you pay particular attention to? Diagonal movement.

What Role does the artist have in society? To convey information. Compare Rodin and Kienholz and the way each treats the human form — Rodin glorifies human strength and Kienholz ridicules human values. Their roles are the same: to convey to the viewer different aspects of humanity.

What is your most treasured memory? Marrying my wife.

What for you is the most enjoyable part of your art? The most enjoyable part is seeing the piece completed — seeing my concept come to life.

What famous artists have influenced you, and how? Bouguereau, Ingres and Rockwell because of the way they use space, especially negative space.

What other interests do you have outside of art? My wife and I have a collection of Alfred Shaheen vintage Hawaiian clothing and fabrics. Shaheen‘s fabric designs have had a major influence on the marquetry designs of my furniture.

Fabrik Projects www.fabrikprojects.com

Some short questions now:

more Colours: Most all colors.

Textures: Wood grains, which I use as an expressive element.

Define your art: Difficult.

Describe your style: “Define yourself”… Experimental. Always looking for a unique arc, angle or dimension to use in my art.

 


Marquetry Sculpture 3-D

 


Directors-Chair-Lectern

 


Chapman Lectern Directors-Chair-Lectern

 
Prizes: Stanley Jameson Award, USC (1964); First Award, Graphics, All California Art (1965); First Purchase Award, Sculpture, City of Los Angeles (1972); Annual Design Award, Furniture Designer of the Year, Angeles Magazine (1990); Veteran’s Memorial Competition Winner, City of Santa Monica (1991).

Art Fairs: 2018 LA Art Show.

Museums: Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art.

Cities: Seattle and Portland.

Travels: I rarely travel.

Artists: As mentioned above, Kienholz, Cornell, Bouguereau, Ingres, and Rockwell.

Music: Verdi operas, Bob Wills and Kitty Wells

Cars: Not interested in cars.

Drones: No.

Mobile App: I don’t use social media.

You seem to be very aware of the history of works. Where do you see films, photo exhibitions, art performances today? I try to stay away from contemporary art exhibits, as I don’t want to be influenced. However, I love ancient art and visit the Getty Museums in Los Angeles and Malibu frequently. I also read quite a bit.

How would your life change if you were no longer allowed to create art? I can’t imagine. My life would be dreadful.

What do you think about the art community and market? Too much mediocrity.

Should art be funded? Why? No. Art should stand on its own merit.

Which of your projects has given you the most satisfaction? My projects for Chapman University have given me the most satisfaction. I’ve been privileged to create sculptural communion tables, crosses and other religious art for Chapman’s Interfaith Center. I’ve also created vessels to house Chapman’s collection of rare antiquities. For example, I created an Ark for a Holocaust Torah that was smuggled to safety during WWII, and sculptural showcases for ancient Bibles, Books of Mormon and the Islamic Quran.

 


Holocaust Torah Ark – Special Project

 


Quran Showcase – Special Project
 

Who are the writer’s you admire the most? Friedrich Nietzsche and Mark Twain.

What about architects and designers? Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Gottfried Semper.

What else are you working on at the moment? Next projects? I’m currently working on a wall sculpture and a chair. Both pieces are forms I just designed and have never used before.

Share something you would like the world to know about you? I’ve shared a lot already!

Define ‘Klassik International’ for the audience? Klassik International PR Media News recognizes that art takes many forms. In addition to sculpture, drawing and painting, Klassik International rightly acknowledges, as art, culture, photography, fashion, interior design, ‘KLASSIK ART GALLERY’, food, and even sports.


White Ebony Chrystanthemum
 


White Ebony Chrystanthemum
 


Monstera Marquetry
 


Ladder Back Chair Cherry Blossoms
 


Cherry Blossoms
 

SOLO EXHIBITIONS:

2015 Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture & Furniture
2009 American Jewish University, Bel Air, California, Sculpture
2002 William Turner Gallery, Venice, California, Sculpture
2001 Susan Street Fine Arts, Solana Beach, California, Sculpture
2000 Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
2000 Molly Barnes, Santa Monica, California, Drawings
1998 William Turner Gallery, Venice, California, Sculpture
1995 University of Redlands, Redlands, California, Sculpture
1993 Transamerica Gallery, Los Angeles, California, Drawings
1989 72 Market Street, Venice, California, Sculpture
1987 Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1985 Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1985 West Beach, Venice, California, Furniture & Sculpture
1983 Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1978 Mt. Hood College, Gresham, Oregon, Sculpture
1976 Morgan Thomas, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1976 Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, Sculpture
1975 Ann Hughes, Portland, Oregon, Drawings
1974 Polly Friedlander, Seattle, Washington, Drawings
1972 David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1969 Molly Barnes, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture

GROUP EXHIBITIONS:

2012-13 Bishop Museum, Honolulu, Hawaii, Sculpture & Drawings
2012 WLA College, The Nude, Drawings
2010 Stremmel Gallery, Reno, Nevada, Sculpture & Drawings
2009 University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
2009 Royal/T Gallery, Culver City, California, Sculpture
2008 Stremmel Gallery, Reno, Nevada, Sculpture & Drawings
2007 Orange County Museum of Art, Orange, California, Art & Architecture, Sculpture
2006 Los Angeles & Ontario Airports, Current West Coast Art, Sculpture
2006 Whitney Museum, New York, Whitney Biennial Peace Tower, Painting
2006 Costello-Childs, Phoenix, Arizona, Sculpture
2005 Santa Monica Originals, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
2005 William Turner Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
2004 Marlborough Chelsea, New York, Sculpture
2003 Susan Street Fine Arts, Solana Beach, California, Sculpture
2002 Louis Stern, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
2001 Susan Street Fine Arts, Solana Beach, California, Sculpture
2001 Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
2000 Louis Stern, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
2000 Robert Berman, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1999 Leo Kaplan Modern, New York, New York, Sculpture
1999 Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1998 Susan Street Fine Arts, Solana Beach, California, Sculpture
1998 Artluxe, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1997 Susan Street Fine Arts, Solana Beach, California, Sculpture
1996 Patricia Correia, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1995 Boritzer/Gray/Hamano, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1993 Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1991 Cal State Bakersfield, Bakersfield, California, Ten West Coast Artists, Sculpture
1989 Craft & Folk Art Museum, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1989 UCLA Wight Gallery, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1988 Otis-Parsons, Los Angeles, California, Drawings
1986 Tortue Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1986 University of California, Santa Barbara, California, Sculpture
1986 ABC Development, Osaka, Japan, California Design, Sculpture
1985 Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1985 Otis-Parsons, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1985 Angles Gallery, Santa Monica, California, Sculpture
1983 Occidental College, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1977 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, Private Images, Sculpture
1974 University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, Sculpture
1972 Cal Tech, Pasadena, California, Surrealism is Alive and Well, Sculpture
1971 University of California, Berkeley, California, Sculpture
1970 California College of the Arts, Oakland, California, A Show of Hands, Sculpture
1969 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Human Concern/Personal Torment, Sculpture
1969 David Stuart Galleries, Los Angeles, California, Drawings
1968 Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York, Whitney Annual, Sculpture
1966 Hayward State College, Hayward, California, West Coast Sculpture, Sculpture

PUBLIC ART, COMMISSIONS & AWARDS:

2017 Chapman University, Orange, California, Furniture
2016 Chapman University, Orange, California, Furniture
2015 Chapman University, Orange, California, Sculpture & Furniture
2014 Chapman University, Orange, California, Sculpture & Furniture
2013 Chapman University, Orange, California, Sculpture
2012 Chapman University, Orange, California, Sculpture
2011 Yukevick | Cavanaugh, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
2010 Chapman University, Orange, California, Executive Offices, Furniture
2010 Weil & Co., Century City, California, Sculpture
2008 University of California, Riverside, 30′ Sculptural Wall
2008 Chapman University, Orange, California, Holocaust Torah Ark
2007 Kaiser Hospital, Irvine, California, Sculpture
2007 Center Theater Group, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
2005 Chapman University, Orange, California, Executive Offices, Furniture & Sculpture
2004 Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sculpture
2004 Chapman University, Orange, California, Main Worship Space & Founders Chapel, Furniture, Altars & Sculptural Cross
2003 General Dynamics, Nassco Division, San Diego, California, “North Star” Ship, Sculpture
2003 General Dynamics, Nassco Division, San Diego, California, “Midnight Sun” Ship, Sculpture
2003 Payden & Rygel Investment Counsel, London, England, Sculpture
2001 Los Angeles County Art Museum, Los Angeles, California, Special Projects Grant, Sculpture
2001 Roy’s Hawaiian Restaurants, Rancho Bernardo, California, Sculpture
2001 MP3.com, San Diego, California, Sculpture
2000 Icon Blue Corporation, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1999 Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus, Los Angeles, California, Sculptural Ark
1998 Payden & Rygel Investment Counsel, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1997 Hewlett-Packard Corporation, San Diego, California, Entryway & Conference Sculptures
1997 Herbalife Corporation, Century City, California, Entryway Sculpture
1996 The Great Vision Church, Los Angeles, California, Sculptural Cross
1993 Bel Air Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, California, Altar & Sculptural Cross
1993 Weil & Company, Santa Monica, California, Entryway, Reception & Conference Sculptures
1993 Santa Monica Museum of Contemporary Art, Art Bank Collection, Santa Monica, California
1992 McDermott, Will & Emery, Century City, California, Entryway Sculpture
1991 Veteran’s Memorial Competition Winner, City of Santa Monica, Santa Monica, California
1991 Typhoon Restaurant, Santa Monica Airport, Santa Monica, California, Entryway & Lighting
1990 Annual Design Award, Furniture Designer of the Year, Angeles Magazine, Los Angeles, California
1988 Maple Drive Restaurant, Beverly Hills, California, Furniture & Interior Design
1988 Joseph Drown Foundation, Los Angeles, California, Posthumous Portrait of Founder
1987 72 Market Street, Venice, California, Sculpture
1987 Mickey Raphael, Los Angeles, California, Compact Disc Cover, “Hand to Mouth” Sculpture
1982 Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Asher Collection, Los Angeles, California, Sculpture
1981 Hasselblad Corporation, Sweden, Sculpture
1977 California Arts Commission Grant, State of California, 48′ X 16′ Billboard
1972 First Purchase Award, Sculpture, Los Angeles All City Outdoor Art Festival, Los Angeles, California
1965 First Award, Graphics, Professional, All California Art in Cross-Section Exhibit
1964 Stanley Jameson Award, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

www.williamtunberg.com