While exploring architectonic structures in the 1970s, David Jacobs developed a related vocabulary of deceptively simple symbolic forms. Derived from the world of typography, these mostly aluminum sculptures present X-marks, check marks, stacked parallel lines, and partial grids that resemble tic-tac-toe boards. Because such characters are typically encountered on a flat page or screen, these sculptures possess a graphic clarity when viewed from certain angles. But the mobile spectator is greeted by unexpected projections into space, interlaced elements, and axiometric illusions that confound the legibility of these familiar forms and test our perceptual faculties.
These sculptures gain additional complexity from Jacobs’ thoughtful attention to surface. Having discovered aluminum tread plate when conceiving Man Monument in 1963 Jacobs continued to exploit its readymade surface in later works, frequently rhyming the raised diamond pattern with the larger geometries of his compositions. Elsewhere and in counterpoint, Jacobs would grind the aluminum with spirited energy, creating a range of painterly gestures that emerge and dissolve as the spectator moves about or lighting conditions fluctuate.