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Jose de Rivera, Noted for Metal Sculptures, Dies

March 23, 1985|From Times Wire Services

NEW YORK — Jose de Rivera, an artist whose abstract metal sculptures have been displayed in museums and public places across the country for 30 years, has died from complications following a stroke. He was 80.

De Rivera died March 12 at Lenox Hill Hospital, five weeks after suffering the stroke.

De Rivera began his artistic career in Chicago, studying drawing with muralist John Norton. He held his first one-man show there in 1930.

He joined the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration during the Depression but then experienced a long stretch of anonymity until he sold a work to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

His sculptures, delicate curvilinear forms made from stainless steel or polished bronze, are considered to have set a standard for conceptual purity and craftsmanship.

'Astonishing Aesthetic Spirituality'

"Much of De Rivera's most consummate sculpture seems as if it were made of mercury rather than steel," Henry J. Seldis, The Times' late art critic wrote in 1972.

Seldis said that "his astonishing aesthetic spirituality (combined) with his machine shop manual training led De Rivera into a single-minded mode of expression."

Some of his best-known works were sculptures commissioned for the American Pavilion at the 1958 World's Fair, and one commissioned for the 1964 World's Fair that still stands in Flushing Meadow Park in Queens. Perhaps his most famous work is a revolving stainless steel sculpture, completed in 1967, that stands in front of the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of History and Technology in Washington.

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