William (Bill) Tarr (1925-2006) sculptor

William Tarr (1925-2006) was an American sculptor best known for monumental works such as “The Gates of the Six Million” at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and the memorial to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in New York City. The New York City-born, self-taught sculptor began creating his first pieces in 1946 from old lumber and downed trees before making metalwelded works of the kind with which he would become most identified. Tarr also worked in concrete, fiberglass and cast bronze. He exhibited his first sculpture at The Whitney Museum in 1962. Two years later in another Whitney exhibition, New York Times art critic John Canaday called Tarr's entry a “centerpiece of the show”, and it was purchased by the Whitney for its permanent collection. Another of his pieces was purchased by the Ford Foundation and donated to The Art Institute of Chicago, where it is also in the permanent collection. In 1974 Tarr was named a Guggenheim Fellow.

In 1980, Tarr’s bronze maquette for the "Gates of the Six Million" was purchased by William and Helen Mazer of East Hampton. The following year the full-scale version of the Gates was commissioned by the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Foundation. The 10-foot-tall, 5,600-pound finished sculpture stands in the plaza of the Holocaust Museum administration building. Perhaps more familiar to New Yorkers is Tarr’s Martin Luther King Jr. memorial monument, which at 120 feet in girth is one of the largest welded-steel sculptures in the world, and was declared the "Best Monument in New York City" by New York magazine.

Having moved to Sarasota in 1977, Bill Tarr was commissioned to create that county's first outdoor public art. A 3,800-pound geometric sculpture, "The Spirit of Sarasota" was described by the Herald-Tribune as “a monument to the ages." Among the sculptor’s last completed works was a 3,650-pound bronze memorial to Vietnam War veterans. Of note, also, was Tarr’s success as a playwright and bestselling author.

Identifiable by their dynamic, geometric use of positive and negative space that is at once modernist and idiosyncratic, Tarr’s works are perhaps most comparable to those of those of his contemporary, Louise Nevelson, though in scale and materiality they more closely approach those of Richard Serra. Donzella LTD is very pleased to offer two of William Tarr’s rare, smaller-scale works for the first time. This is an exceptional opportunity for any collector, new or established, interested in acquiring works by an artist whose importance is likely to continue growing over time.

"Gates of Hell," aka "Gates of the Six Million,” 1993, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, 1985, Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus, New York
"The Spirit of Sarasota," Sarasota County Administration Center
First Sculpture Biennial, Whitney Museum of Art, 1963 Whitney Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Art Institute of Chicago Permanent Collection (Gift from the Ford Foundation, 1962)
Untitled Cor-Ten steel sculpture, 1972, Segundo Ruiz Belvis Community Care Center, East 142nd Street, New York City
Steel Door Sculpture, 102 Greene Street, New York
Neiman-Marcus Collection, Coral Gables & Dallas Stores
("Morningside Heights" sculpture, New York City Public School 36, w. 123 St, 1967-1991)