Seymour Locks is one of the progenitors of assemblage and found object construction in the Bay Area art scene during the early to mid-fifties. Born in Illinois, he attended San Jose State College and Stanford University (Master of Arts, 1946). Locks began teaching at San Francisco State College in 1947. His work was widely seen in San Francisco throughout the 1950s, and his influence can be seen in younger artists as disparate as DeForest and Hedrick, as well as Southern California assemblage artists Berman, Herms and Kienholz.
Seymour Locks’s nail sculptures plumb a deep, archaic well of feeling and provoke a response that cannot be explained. They were made by an artist who had been an otherwise conventional painter of landscapes, a tinkerer with Abstract Expressionism, in a city where developments in contemporary art often seemed to arrive slowly, in haphazard fashion.
On another level, of course, the nail sculptures are simply what they appear to be: stumps or fragments of wood into which the artist hammered hundreds and even thousands of nails, along with a variety of affixed objects, including gears, drill bits, brass and copper foil, charms, jewelry, bottle caps, entangled nests of wire and other salvage.