Drake Collection Online

Gallery Index
Gallery I. The Fifties - Philadelphia
Gallery II. The Sixties - Manhattan
Gallery III. Manhattan
Gallery IV. Manhattan
Gallery V. Philadelphia
Gallery VI. Synthesis, Sign & Symbol
Gallery VII. Woodstock Again
Gallery VIII. Introspection

IV. Manhattan.


17 GM, 1964

18 Fusillade, c. 1962

19 Blue Guernsey, 1964

20 At Inter Arts Workshop, 1967

21 Big Red, c. 1964

22 Uptight, c. 1965-67

Working with polymer and solvents in sizing and coating his photo transfer montages, Drake was led into a truly innovative body of work he called sculpture, or boxes. It began in 1962 with his observation that, when whipped, colored styrene rises as foam from its container in a head that stiffens and cures. Using household cups and paper tubes he first made engaging assemblages that look like space age gun turrets. The first was suggested by a movie moment when Betty Davis lit up two cigarettes, but extra-pictorial content was soon eliminated in favor of pure abstraction when he found that soon after whipping the foam could be poured or dripped, hardening on a surface. This led to construction of transparent boxes into which foam was poured and manipulated by turning the box during or between pours, and controlled to some extent by mixture and timing. Transparent boxes permitted both the risen foam inside and the flat glaze of its underside – now outside – to have interplay, while refracted light plays along the edges. The result is sort of a three-dimensional variation on the flat bleeding “veils” of Frankenthahler and Louis and related Washington stripe painting.

The boxes are as organic as his first oyster bed abstractions but in three dimensions and with unmodulated bright color, plexiglass substituting for painted border. Foam spreads like a pancake when dropped on the still, flat surface before assemblage. After fabrication, if the cured box is inverted foam puddled at the bottom of a pour becomes a blossom on an upright stem. Much forethought went into each box, starting with proportion and fabrication (the boxes sometimes pierced through by transparent tubes) and color selection, then the controlled pour, with the inevitable accident that is turned to advantage or failure. Once poured there is no reversal, so go with the flow. Titles were given on the basis of final effect, or some incident in execution, or a primary inspiration. Big Red was named after a mane of lush red hair Bud saw rising at the top landing of a hotel escalator as he ascended --- “like a sunrise’” he said. Drake fabricated his boxes for a decade or more, culminating in 1971 with his show at the Wesleyan University Art Gallery, where at the opening he poured and completed several pre-fabricated boxes, assisted by students and black tie visitors.

Falling somewhere in between transfer prints and boxes, a mixed media piece of this time attracted notice in the 160th PAFA Annual exhibition, where critics cited the affiliation of G M with New York Pop art and its relationship to soup cans and trading stamps. Wire reinforced plexiglass protects a collage of one hundred real dollar bills, celebrating the day the value of Drake's GM stock reached $100 a share --- priced at $1,000 it sold and today is unlocated.