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© John Buck / VAGA , New York, NY

Full Circle, 1992

Artist: John Buck, American, b. 1946

Medium: Jelutong wood, acrylic paint

81 5/8 x 32 1/2 x 16 in. (207.3 x 82.6 x 40.6 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of AutoZone, Inc.

Object Number: 2001.15.6

Copyright: © John Buck / VAGA , New York, NY

On View

Allene Lapides Gallery, Sante Fe, New Mexico, 1992; AutoZone, Inc., Memphis, Tennessee, 2001

Printmaker and sculptor John Buck was born in Iowa and earned his BFA from the Kansas City Institute and School of Design. In 1972 he received his MFA from the University of California, Davis, where he studied with Robert Arneson. His freestanding narrative sculptures are comprised of disconnected elements and figures that maintain a precarious equilibrium with each other. Flames, sticks, flowers, geometric shapes, and headless human figures are recurring images in both his sculpture and his prints.


Full Circle is characteristic of Buck’s sculpture in the choice of universalizing themes and exotic material. The artist states that the title, Full Circle, refers to his interest in the folk art of diverse cultures, particularly the kachina dolls of the Pueblo people. 1. Given during ceremonies, kachina dolls are presented to girls and young women to teach them the importance of religion and familiarize them with the spirits known as the kachina. Jelutong wood is a soft lumber indigenous to Malaysia that is not strong enough to be used as a building material, but works well for sculpture. Although Buck leaves his carved marks visible, choosing not to smooth or sand the wood, he covers the surface with paint. Here, a headless figure carries an assemblage of symbolic objects on its shoulder: a circle with leaves and a human head appended; and a figurine of a headless woman who shares a neck with an inverted headless man. The only color in the work is found in the two delicate but vibrant red-orange flowers that surmount the paired branches chained together; their vertical orientation parallels the human form to the right. Drawing on natural forms and world religions, Buck posits the connectedness of all life.


1. John Buck, Email correspondence with author, 15 June 2004.