"Ernest Trova: Studies for Falling Man" traces the development of Ernest Trova's most notable body of work, including his previously unpublished 1966 artist's statement.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Ernest Trova (1927–2009) was among the most widely acknowledged sculptors working in the United States, resulting in invitations to exhibit in three Whitney Annuals, three Venice Biennales, and Documenta 4 in Kassel, Germany. In 1969 his work was heralded by the New York Times as “among the best of contemporary American sculpture,” and throughout those decades examples of his art were prominently displayed in dozens of major museums including the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Trova’s life-size bronze, Study/Falling Man (Wheelman), once greeted visitors at the Guggenheim’s 5th Avenue entrance, and for more than twenty years he was represented by the Pace Gallery, which inaugurated its first New York space with an exhibition of his work.
Ernest Trova achieved his first small success at the age of twenty when Max Beckmann selected his painting Roman Boy as the winner of the local museum’s annual exhibition. When the president of the area's Artists’ Guild publicly declared Trova’s work fit only to “hang in an outhouse,” the row resulted in the self-taught artist and his partially dripped painting being pictured on a full page of LIFE Magazine, almost two years before Jackson Pollock’s star-making turn on the same pages. In the following years Trova personally sought out Willem de Kooning and poet Ezra Pound, whose dual influences would heavily impact the young artist’s developing practice and philosophy. Trova continued primarily as a painter for the first 14 years of his career, and as early as 1958 could be said to have identified what would become the central impulse of his mature work– the serial use of invented abbreviations of the human figure, which developed until he arrived at the elegant collection of human curves that would become his breakthrough construct, Falling Man.