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David Barr

 (born 1939)
David John Barr is active/lives in Michigan.  David Barr is known for constructivist sculpture, architecture.

David Barr

Biography from the Archives of askART

An architectural designer and creator of site-specific public sculpture, David Barr was born in Detroit, Michigan, and grew up in Grosse Pointe Woods, a suburb on the east side of Detroit. His father was an engineer at Chrysler Corporation and his mother a secretary in the public library. He recalled his childhood as happy with emphasis on reading due to the influence of his mother.

However, his early art talent was not much encouraged because of expectation to be an engineer or lawyer or other "certified" professional. He took no art classes until he went to college at Wayne State University, but had made mixed-media pieces at home. He described his first finished piece, something that fit into no describable category, as "the most intense narcotic I have ever had in my life." There were people in his early life who encouraged him including a cousin, Val Mackintosh, who was an artist and an actress, and Sherman Handy, who worked as a technical advisor in the Art Department at Wayne State and who introduced David Barr to concepts of Constructivism and the fact that machines could be liberating as well as enslaving. Barr was fascinated with the idea that artists could work with the same materials and ideas as common laborers and in this way, art could be democratic---that it could be understood and explained in language most people understood. A major influence on his thinking was Charles Biederman a constructivist painter and sculptor of structurist reliefs.

Many of the works by Barr are geometric and made of wood, steel and stone and are much influenced by his admiration for the megaliths, the relationships of the stones, he has seen in his foreign travels to such places as Stonehenge in England.

In addition to his work as a sculptor, David Barr was an associate professor of sculpture at Macom Community College at Warren, Michigan for forty years.

Oral Interview, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, by David Barr and Linda Abramsky

Biography from Butler Institute of American Art
Sculptor David Barr was inducted as an Honorary Affiliate Member of the American Institute of Architects - Michigan in a ceremony at the Soaring Eagle Resort and Casino in Mt. Pleasant on April 7th.

His work is on display all over the world but many of his most interesting works have been a part of large architectural commissions in Michigan.

A sampling of his work with architects includes the "Polaris Ring" at the Michigan Library Museum Archives in Lansing for William Kessler, FAIA; "Revolution I" at the Chrysler World Headquarters in Auburn Hills designed by Ralph Youngren, FAIA for SH&G (now the SmithGroup) and the development of Mt. Elliot Park in Detroit for Schervish, Vogel, Merz.

David Barr built his house and studio with his bare hands from plans drawn up by his friend Laurence Booth, a Chicago architect, on a four-acre tract in a cornfield in Novi, Michigan. He also planted trees and dug a pond. This land has become a testing site for his sculpture. The house won a distinguished building award from the Chicago Chapter - AIA. It was published in Global Architecture, House and Garden and Architectural Record.

Originally David Barr enrolled in Wayne State University's engineering school (his father was an engineer at Chrysler). After switching his major to industrial design he ultimately earned his masters of fine arts from Wayne State.

He is founder and artistic director for the Michigan Legacy Art Park in Thompsonville near the Crystal Mountain Resort. It is an outdoor laboratory for the state's artists, poets and naturalists and is a walking trail where people come to reflect on nature, poetry and roadside sculpture.

Source: The artist files of the Butler Institute of American Art

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About  David Barr

Born:  1939 - Detroit, Michigan
Known for:  constructivist sculpture, architecture