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Griffon by David Hayes

Charles B. Hayes Family Sculpture Park

My sculptures should feel like they belong in nature.

            David Hayes

Viewers might be surprised to learn that the 27-foot-tall, commercially-fabricated, Rustoleum-flat-black, steel Griffon sculpture has roots in nature, as initially captured on an intimate scale by the human hand.  The preparatory drawing for the sculpture shows contour lines that take their curves from outlines of leaves––favorite shapes within Hayes’s visual vocabulary.  Leaf shapes were captured in quick gesture drawings and then repeated in three-dimensional steel shapes that created visual rhythms pleasing to the artist. 

Despite its origins in plant forms, Hayes titled the work Griffon after it was fabricated and installed, because it reminded him of the mythological figure with head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion.  Therefore, the work can be interpreted as a sentinel guarding the University of Notre Dame.

Hayes graduated from Notre Dame in 1953, after which he undertook graduate study at Indiana University, Bloomington (MFA 1955), where he studied with celebrated American sculptor David Smith.

Griffon, 1989, David Hayes (American, 1931–2013) welded and painted steel, 27 feet high. Acquired with Funds Provided by the Humana Endowment for American Art and the National Endowment for the Arts, 1989.026