Charlie Kaplan’s path to making sculpture began with his interest in the melding of form and function found in old hand tools: he created his first work out of a piece of abandoned Douglas fir using a set of chisels acquired for the purpose. The experience was life-changing. While still working full-time, in 1995 he began studying sculpture seriously, working with both stone-carvers and practicing artists in Pietrasanta, Italy, where he spends each summer, as well as in classes near his home in Los Angeles.
For the past 30 years Charlie has devoted himself full time to his art, following his passion to create abstract forms that are expressive, elegant, and tactile. His inspiration comes from the carefully chosen material itself, often from the historic marble quarries in Carrara, Italy, allowing his mastery of technique and well-honed instinct to join forces. The sensual forms the creates walk the line between pure abstraction and representational reference. As Christopher Eamon stated in his catalogue essay “The sculptural work of Charlie Kaplan practically begs one to touch it.”
While originally focusing his attention on mastering marble, Charlie’s innate curiosity has led him to experiment with other materials to express his vision. A few years ago he spent time in Venice studying with the master glass blowers in Murano, and recently he has started to sculpt in metal as he had early in his career, working with foundries to realize large-scale works in steel and bronze.
Almost since the beginning, his work was widely collected privately in both the United States and Italy, but it was in 2009 when the city of Pietrasanta, Italy installed one of his large scale works on its new pier that he began to receive wider attention. In 2018 his one-man exhibition at the Sidney Mishkin Gallery at Baruch College in NYC featured Soaring, a large scale-work that has since been acquired for permanent installation in the William and Anita Newman Library at Baruch College. His 2019 solo show at Long Sharp Gallery Project Space in NYC, followed by the gallery’s 2020 Sculpture of Scale group exhibition in Indianapolis, was a major breakthrough, placing Charlie in context with other notable international sculptors. Major sculptures by Kaplan are installed in notable public collections and spaces, including at Baruch College, in New York city and the Conrad Hotel in Indianapolis. Omaggio agli Artigiani, a year-long outdoor exhibition in Pietrasanta prominently featured his monumental work White Shroud at the head of the new pier, and later this year, a major 15-foot commission entitled Sailing Together will be installed at the entrance to the new Friendship Foundation campus in Los Angeles.