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Sculpture as Anything
June 21, 2007


Tom Friedman sculpture

Tom Friedman, Open Black Box, 2006, Black construction paper, 137 in. x 137 in. x 137 in., Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery

Ken Johnson raises several good questions in his New York Times piece, where he takes the pulse of current sculpture by discussing what's up in the galleries this month:

Certainly there is no primary style right now setting visual or conceptual limits. About the only thing sculpture cannot tolerate, at least in theory, is being restricted to two dimensions. This makes sculpture a zone of enormous creative freedom.

Ah, but rules are made to be broken. Sculptors can even find a way to drop that pesky third dimension. Through holograms and optical illusions—forms that seem to occupy space but don't (so long as you don't count the projector)—James Turrell investigates assumptions about space and materiality itself. His work is like a virus: a form of organic life that leads scientists to question their fundamental assumptions about organic life. Turrell's illusions distill sculpture to its fundamental characteristics.

In Johnson's review of current New York shows, he summarizes the work of several contemporary sculptors: Gordon Matta-Clark, Frank Stella, Daisy Youngblood, Jon Kessler, Vincent Lamouroux, John Monti, Jorge Pardo, Dike Blair, Delia R. Gonzalez And Gavin R. Russom, and Donald Judd. There are all prominent or emerging names within the genre, and in his reviews, Johnson makes the case that these artists have exploded the boundaries of what counts as sculpture today.

But these aren't the artists who tested those conceptual boundaries in the first place. That honor could be claimed by many but belongs, in my mind, to Duchamp. The fact that these artists' sculptures could hardly be more distinct from one another emphasizes his lasting legacy within the genre: an art object may be anything, and it need not even be made by the artist. Of course, that's a pliable title, one that may be revoked as new conclusions are drawn from art history.


Posted by Kriston on June 21, 2007 in American Art Everywhere


Comments

"Certainly there is no primary style right now setting visual or conceptual limits. About the only thing sculpture cannot tolerate, at least in theory, is being restricted to two dimensions. This makes sculpture a zone of enormous creative freedom."

The above quote challenges me to state the following:

The most powerful, and possibly "greatest", piece of sculpture that exists in the world today is the digital version (flat, or in two dimensions) of the "real" life three dimensional sculpture of Paris Hilton.

There is no other work of art in the world today that provokes such a wide range of reactions and emotions than that of the digital sculpture of Paris Hilton. None.

Consider this: How many people in the world have actually met, touched or conversed in person with the "live" version of the living breathing Paris Hilton? Very, very few. Yet hundreds of millions interact daily with the digital sculpture version of Paris Hilton, a version that, whether in still photos or moving video, is flat, or two dimensional at best.

The flat or two dimensional sculpture of Paris Hilton provokes outrage, hate, anger, love, passion, desire, sarcasm, laughs, tears, apathy, in short, every human emotion know to exist. This digital sculpture is a work of art that invites anyone to project anything that they wish upon it. The digital sculpture of Paris Hilton absorbs our hate, and our love, and reflects back to us the burning essence of what we are. The more we interact with this digital sculpture of Paris Hilton, the more our humble faults, our secret sins, our victimless crimes, our superior virtues, our false moralities, our common insecurities and our wicked fantasies are exposed.

Modern sculpture is in a quagmire: it has been buried by a living three dimensional sculpture that created a two dimensional digital sculpture of itself.

Paris Hilton is the most sublime piece of sculpture that has ever been created.

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