Hounds of Hell

By Karl Stirner
Iron and chalk, 1999-2000

Artist Karl Stirner sits in a studio with machinery and his sculpture Hounds of Hell, comprised of two large pieces of iron that look like book ends, which is now displayed on the Karl Stirner Arts Trail in Easton, Pennsylvania.

“Transformed from ingot ends of I-beams into a work of art by the artist’s intent, their cropped edges ‘shod,’ the twin hounds stand on end and preside over oblivion below,” noted Ken Delahunty in his “Karl Stirner: Hounds of Hellessay in January 2001.

Stirner often appropriated leftover materials acquired from junkyards or, in this case, the Bethlehem Steel Plant as materials or “found forms” that he would turn into sculptural subjects.

“To understand Karl Stirner’s identity-making abstract sculptures, it helps to know what options are open to him,” Delahunty wrote. “Working with intractable mill stock and scrap iron, he must select, align, modify, fabricate, and recombine—coaxing out identity as he goes. His working principles:

  • The new piece is to be arrived at directly, through a logic found in the components themselves, neither arbitrary nor redundant;
  • The new piece is to be a whole in itself, not merely an assemblage.

“When these principles are met, the work embodies new identity.”

Artist Karl Stirner stands with Michiko Okaya, Jim Toia, and others behind Stirner's Hounds of Hell metal sculpture and in front of the Williams Visual Arts Building's brick exterior on the campus of Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Artist Karl Stirner (center) stands with Michiko Okaya (in light blue next to him), Jim Toia (far right), Mary Wilford-Hunt, and others behind Stirner’s Hounds of Hell metal sculpture and in front of the Williams Visual Arts Building at Lafayette College in 2011 when the sculpture was installed at Ahart Arts Plaza in downtown Easton.

Stirner also created Untitled (Arch for the KSAT), designed specifically for its location at the trailhead to the Karl Stirner Arts Trail.

Learn more about Karl Stirner.