Isaac Witkin (1936-2006). Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Witkin enjoyed a Sculpture Space Residency in Utica in 1977. The piece on loan at Griffiss, Vermont II, is unique in a distinguished series: Vermont I, 1965, is owned by the Tate Gallery, London, United Kingdom, acquired circa 1972, Vermont III, is in the British Arts Council collection; and Vermont IV is in a private collection in Switzerland. After graduating from St. Martins School of Art in London in 1960, where he studied with Anthony Caro. Witkin apprenticed with sculpture great Henry Moore. In a 1964 show at Whitechapel Gallery, also in London, Witkin and his fellow St. Martin "New Generation" sculptors, Bill Tucker, David Annesley, Philip King, Tim Scott and Michael Bolus made their big entry into the English art world. In 1965 Witkin's bright green iconic work Volution became a symbol of the revolution in contemporary sculpture, and was awarded first prize in the Paris Biennale. Isaac Witkin was also included in the seminal 1966 exhibition "Primary Structures" at the Jewish Museum in New York, which helped launch his international career. Witkin then emigrated to the United States to replace his former teacher Anthony Caro as visiting professor at Bennington College, where he would remain for the next 13 years. Vermont II, created while Witkin was at Bennington, is inspired by the Green Mountain pastoral landscape, while its bright colors are decidedly Pop Art.
After creating abstract welded steel works in the 1970’s, Witkin began working in bronze, ultimately inventing his own sculptural language, using the technique of pouring molten metal onto a flat surface or a sand mold to create abstract shapes, a technique Witkin called “drawing” with bronze. By 1985, Grace Glueck of The New York Times wrote that Isaac Witkin “long ago worked his way out of aesthetic debt to such mentors as Anthony Caro and David Smith and into a powerful lyrical expression of his own". Witkin's 2006 obituary in the New York Times described him as a true innovator in abstract metal sculpture.
In 2007, Isaac Witkin's Vermont II was included in a retrospective exhibition entitled "The New Generation Revisited" at the New Art Centre in England, and to celebrate the show's opening, it was chosen by the Times of London for a full page spread entitled "Image of the Day". This iconic piece is on loan to Griffiss by Nadine Witkin, executrix of the Estate of Isaac Witkin, and is installed adjacent to The Griffiss Institute in Technology Height.