Joseph Havel was born in Minneapolis and currently lives and works in Houston, where he serves as the director of the Glassell School of Art at the Museum of Fine Arts. Havel’s Endless, previously displayed at The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, has been moved to CityLine Plaza, near the future Aloft Hotel site. The 101-inch sculpture gradually transitions from bronze to translucent resin to give it the appearance of an endless column of books. The piece is part of a series of that examines books as vessels holding ideas, memories, knowledge and culture. Havel was originally inspired after integrating some of his father’s books into his own library. He became aware of how their stories and identities were intertwined but also different, and how our personal libraries define us.
Cast in polyurethane resin, the sculpture reveals many of the details of their original forms. As the viewer looks inside the clear resin, they can see objects suspended within, including paperback books and smooth stones. For Havel, books serve as sets of knowledge, as forms that insist on permanence and our impulse to resist decay. While the outer books cast in resin represent a narrative or set of values, such as the commercial world or the public side of the self, the books captured inside offer a more personal and at times idiosyncratic collection of knowledge and our sense of the world.
Havel’s sculptures and drawings have been exhibited in Europe and in the United States, including Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston; Talley Dunn Gallery, Dallas; Yvon Lambert Gallery, New York; Galerie Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris; and the Whitney Biennial 2000. Havel was named the 2013 Texas State Visual Artist 3D by the Texas Commission on the Arts. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota and Master of Fine Arts from Penn State University.