Josef Pillhofer’s sculptures, while primarily cubic, nonetheless suggest human forms, not only in their formal arrangement but in their scale. His work expresses both discipline and tension. The prostrate pose of Reclining Man suggests a completely relaxed figure with one knee pulled up for stability, seemingly daydreaming or contemplating the sky. Head, torso, and the extended leg comprise one continuous, elongated, hard-edged form. Anatomical partitions are indicated by horizontal and diagonal accents recalling the shifting facets of Cubist painting.
As an early student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna, Pillhofer witnessed and absorbed the conflict between traditional and new formal vocabulary in the work of his teacher, Fritz Wotruba, another artist in Storm King’s collection. Dissecting Wotruba’s architectonic anatomy into its components, he rooted his images in nature while vacillating between naturalistic and abstract form.