Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sculpting Text

Gilbert & George, Any Port in a Storm, 1973 (Mailed exhibition announcement card)

This morning I got an announcement from ZieherSmith Gallery in New York about their great-looking new show. Sculpture in So Many Words: Text Pieces 1960–75 "examines a body of work in which the most material of the visual arts was reduced to the least substantial of materials: ideas." It features work by Vito Acconci, John Baldessari, Joseph Beuys, Mel Bochner, George Brecht, Dan Flavin, Dan Graham, Jasper Johns, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Fred Sandback, Robert Smithson, Lawrence Weiner, and many others, including those shown here.

Stephen Kaltenbach, Build a Reputation, 1969 (Magazine ad)

Richard Serra, Lead Shot, 1970-71 (Magazine insert)

Curator Dakin Hart:
Why call these text pieces sculptures? Many of the artists defined their text work as sculpture and referred to it, both explicitly or implicitly, in their titles. Moreover, typical of art of this era, all of these works are concerned with the physical and conceptual place of the art object and the object of art in the real world. By the early 1960s music, film, dance and other forms of performance were infiltrating the visual arts, even as the rigid distinctions between painting and sculpture were crumbling in works such as Robert Rauschenberg’s combines and Jasper Johns’ object paintings. Sculpture, however, was still the de facto mental model for artworks designed to occupy, and exist in, real space—as opposed to hanging on walls as representational windows onto something else. What the artists making text sculpture realized was that working with ideas in the form of language allowed them the conceptual freedom required for rapid, inexpensive, logistics-free prototyping. There is no space in which an idea cannot be installed, no material of which it cannot be made, no shape it cannot assume, no conceptual feat it cannot attempt.
N. E. Thing & Company Ltd., IT, 1966 (Mailed exhibition poster)

Get more info and see more images from the show, which runs this Thursday through February 12, at ZieherSmith.

No comments: