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The Fate of the Earth

The Fate of the Earth

Artist: Peter Gourfain (American, born 1934)
Culture: American
Date: 1989 (cast 1997)
Medium: Bronze alloy, applied silver nitrate patina
13 1/2 x 17 3/4 inches (34.3 x 45.1 cm)
State: 5
Edition: 6
Classification: Sculpture
Credit Line: Gift of The Seavest Collection
Label Text:This panel is part of a series of twenty-four bronze reliefs entitled "The Fate of the Earth".

The iconographic program for "The Fate of the Earth" is linked to the tradition of relief sculpture on Medieval and Renaissance Baptistery and Cathedral Doors often illustrating the history of mankind as told in the Old and New Testament. As an addenda and reversal of sorts to these 'summae' of the history of man, Gourfain focuses his set on the more recent events in the history of our planet, calling attention to the destruction of the natural world by the very mankind saved by the Godhead. The set of reliefs, like their predecessors, are meant to take the form of doors, portals or gates.

Gourfain explains that the reliefs tell "...Of the terrific misuse of our power...", and, "of the tragic condition to which we have reduced our only home, Earth" (the biblical Garden of Eden in the Book of Genesis).

As a set the reliefs are divided into a group of eight smaller panels, executed in 1984, and a group of sixteen panels, completed in 1989. Originally created in terracotta, they were cast in bronze in a limited edition of six plus one Artist's Proof set in 1997. The smaller panels are like parables of what Gourfain sees as Man's abusive relationship to his natural home. The Larger panels spell out more specifically, disaster by disaster, the destruction of the buffalo, the passenger pigeon, the whale population, the rain forests, the spoliation of our forests, our abuse and massacre of indigenous native populations. In the tradition of inspired, monumental narrative relief sculpture from antiquity to the present, the series "The Fate of the Earth" carries a moral message, an admonition to, in the artist's own words "...act with conscience in time."
Object number: 1998.5.24