Artist Julian Hoeber Is What You Get When You Raise a Dreamy Philly Kid in a Frank Furness House. See His Work at Uarts Now
By: Edith Newhall
The artist Julian Hoeber grew up in Philadelphia in a house designed by the Philadelphia architect Frank Furness. “As a kid, I imagined living inside a carved walnut newel post that looked like a miniature gothic tower,” Hoeber wrote a couple years ago in an essay for Art in America. “I remember staring at an expanse of plaster filigree on the ceiling and wondering about what the world could be.”
Hoeber, now 45 and based in Los Angeles, has made his mark in the art world by realizing his daydreams about existing things and their fantastical possibilities. He has had 17 one-person shows since 2002, and his artworks are in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the Dallas Museum of Art, among others.
University of the Arts’ Rosenwald-Wolf Gallery now has a survey of Hoeber’s eclectic creations on exhibit, through Sept. 13.
His mostly aluminum table, Flying Table Prototype, could be a nod to Eero Saarinen’s classic round table — and to flying saucers.
Architectural Models is a group of foam-core models for houses that tilt sideways. They’re crowded haphazardly on elegant wall-mounted wood shelving, suggesting an eccentric architect’s dreams that never came true.
Brutalist Dollhouse, an architectural model in white Ultracal and epoxy, would seem to be riffing on Louis Kahn, Laurie Simmons, Sol LeWitt, and the marvelous Dalí house in Portlligat, Spain. It’s sitting on a piece of glass supported by a cube-shaped, steel frame, and while you would not expect a cement structure to have such a minimal pedestal, the contrast of heaviness and transparency is magical.
Two meticulously constructed wall sculptures of string pulled taut inside geometric wood frames recall works by the Russian-born Constructivist sculptor Naum Gabo.
Hoeber’s paintings are similarly wide-ranging in their references. His collages on stretched raw linen, fashioned after trendy “vision boards,” are physically appealing — sharp against a background of raw linen — but their combination of knowingness and obfuscation can seem pretentious.
Some other paintings here are actual paintings, and to me, they’re more interesting. The semi-abstract San Gabriel (2015) seems to reference the history of painting in California as well as the San Gabriel Mountains. It’s both a handsome painting and a West Coast mystery.