James Metcalf (1925 – 2012) is an American artist and sculptor. He was introduced very young to medieval techniques of metal work and for 4 years has worked alongside his father in the family workshop in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
From 1950 to 1952 James Metcalf studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in London, where he broadens his knowledge. He develops a passion for the «archaic» techniques of ironwork.
In 1955 his first solo exhibition is held in Barcelona and he decides to devote himself entirely to sculpture. His favorite material is iron which he welds or forges according the project.
In 1956 he moves to Paris where he decides to set up his workshop Impasse Ronsin. That’s where he meets Brancusi who supports him in his research but also Yves Klein and the Lalanne. He teaches Claude Lalanne electroplating, a goldsmith technique that allows to lay a thin layer of metal around a shape thanks to an electrolysis bath.
James Metcalf also enjoys the Parisian nightlife and meets many writers and artists such as Magritte, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamps or Wilfredo Lam. His sculpture confronts the old and the new and the iconography used pays tribute both to the «primitive» civilizations that he studied, and to the Freudian man.
It’s in Paris that he’ll establish his reputation. In 1957 he receives the William and Noma Copley Foundation Prize. From then on, personal and collective exhibitions, but also public orders will never stop to confirm the renown of this artist.
© Diane de Karajan
It’s in a sumptuous Parisian apartment decorated in the 60s by Carlos Ortiz Cabrera for M. and Mrs Lillaz that these andirons were placed, in an Haute Epoque fireplace. James Metcalf designed these in bronze and brass following the arabesques and the rhythms of the fire.