Art – When steel becomes butter

Yaacov Dorchin

Recently I visited the  sculpture exhibition of the artist Yaacov Dorchin.

Dorchin creates metal artworks, both small and big, which leave the spectator  flabbergasted at their hard bulk appearance, yet soft like butter impression.

Yaacov Dorchin

In his artistic processes, Dorchin collects from junk yards  discarded  pieces of metal and steel and through manipulation, welding and joining, creates lyrical and majestic sculptures. The rusted steel parts, which  in their past were tools, machinery and parts of cars  come alive through transformation into an abstract, often floating, other.


In 2012 Dorchin received the prestigious Israel Prize For The Arts. In their explanation for awarding the prize the judges said:” Dorchin’s art bring together many contradictions- delicacy and power, balance and instability, industrial realism and ancient culture. His works are minimal, concise and simultaneously both  hard and soft”.

yaacov dorchin3

Dorchin was born in 1946 in Haifa, Israel. Since 1969 he exhibited in many galleries in Israel and the rest of the world including USA, Japan and Europe.

yaacov dorchin1

I saw the exhibition with my husband, who  loves steel sculpture and Dorchin’s work in particularly.  I had to eventually push him out  of the gallery as  he just  couldn’t bring himself to leave and wanted to take all the pieces home…

Remember my post on the Scandinavian artist Sandra Backlund who designs clothing/sculptures out of heavy wool, paper and more?

I had a similar sense when observing Dorchin’s work of how an object or material  is manipulated in such a way that it transcends its own innate, intrinsic character, to become suggestive of its opposite.

Share  your impressions!



15 responses to “Art – When steel becomes butter

  1. I love this type of sculpture, is a spectacular job, hard and soft at the same time.

    • Thank you Josep. The artist calls many of his sculptures “angel”. I think the names also indicate the delicacy as well as the “hard and soft” you are talking about.

  2. As a geologist, in which science and art merge continuously, I especially liked Dorchin’s incorporation of a Drill bit and hammer in the top right corner of the first image. It delicately fuses industrial and engineering elements with the artistic realm in a surprising fashion.

  3. His work is so interesting, I love when artists use materials in an unexpected way! It really does seem as if he molded the metal into butter. This reminds me of Richard Serra’s work.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. These are beautiful and I can imagine how hard all these would have been for him since he stand the risks of having his fingers cut during the process…. Nice pictures and thanks for posting.

  5. Very Interesting,
    The second sculpture almost looks like a face.

  6. Thank Roi. I agree about the face.. isn’t art amazing?!

  7. These photos are also a form of art!! Thank you for sharing for those of us who might never have a chance to go! It’s amazing how someone can see the beauty that is buried in a junk yard! Yaacov Dorchin is a very creative artisan!!

    Pura vida!!
    ❤ carmen

  8. I really love that last piece. I love how he’s taken a metal and, like you said, made it into butter!

  9. Thank you Caroline. The last piece you mentioned is called “Angel” . Dorchin’s angels are always very vulnerable. In this sculpture it seems as if his wings are broken …

  10. Love:) the last photo, very curious lovely artwork !

  11. Very beautiful, surprisingly enough given the medium. We see so many crude uses of this type of salvage, but these really go to another level of creativity and skill.

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