Delaware Remembers Sculptor Charles Parks

standing-figure Beloved local sculptor Charles Parks received numerous national awards and commissions, and his work is in public and private collections around the country. Locally his work can be seen outdoors at the University of Delaware and at Brandywine Park. In 2011 the State of Delaware received his collection of approximately 290 lifetime works. The artist is also well represented in the collection of the Delaware Art Museum. The earliest of seven works spanning the artist’s long and productive career, Standing Figure is on view in Gallery 16 to honor the passing of Parks.

This carved walnut statue is a very early example of Parks’ work. Like nearly all of Parks’ sculptures, the subject is a figure, and she stands quietly, in a relaxed contrapposto stance, her weight on one leg. The young artist has mastered this classic pose—there is a convincing sense of mass in her legs and feet—a challenge for sculptors since ancient times. Rendered in an elegant streamlined style, Standing Figure is typical of American sculpture at mid-century. Since the 1920s, artists like William Zorach and Paul Manship had portrayed the body as a series of smooth volumes defined by clean lines. Parks follows in this tradition, coaxing walnut into the rounded forms of her legs and torso. These smooth passages contrast with her textured hair, creating an interesting visual interplay.

The Museum purchased this statue from the artist in 1948, when he was still a student at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia, PA. It had been shown in the 34th Annual Delaware Show, juried by the American painter Reginald Marsh. It was one of seven works purchased from the exhibition; other selections included Under the High Line by Edward Loper and paintings by Pyle students Gayle Hoskins and Thornton Oakley.

Heather Campbell Coyle
Curator of American Art 

Standing Figure, c.1947
Charles Cropper Parks (1922–2012)
Walnut, 25 1/2 x 5 x 3 inches
Special Purchase Fund, 1948

This Curator Corner was posted on November 8, 2012.