PETER DOWNSBROUGH The Book(s). 1968â€“2010 Herausgegeben von / Edited by Moritz KĂźng, deSingel, Antwerpen / Antwerp 332 Seiten / pages, 272 Abbildungen / illustrations Broschur / Softcover ISBN 978-3-7757-2833-1 (Englisch / English)
In the 1960s, artists made renewed efforts to explore the conditions required to create art: production, presentation, and reception. With Minimal Art, institutional critique, and Contextual Art, an ambivalent attitude toward the object developed. This raises the question of the sense and purpose of sculpture in the context of todayâ€™s world. This publication presents works by six contemporary artistsâ€”Phyllida Barlow, Michael Beutler, Alexandra Bircken, Vincent Fecteau, Anita Leisz, and Kimberly Sextonâ€”who have distinguished themselves through their process-oriented approach, and who deal with the invention of form in an explorative way, using diverse materials and actions, and thus contribute to the understanding of sculptural acts.
CHARLOTTE POSENENSKE 1930â€“1985 Herausgegeben von / Edited by Renate Wiehager 216 Seiten pages, 410 Abbildungen / illustrations, 369 farbig / in color Gebunden / Hardcover ISBN 978-3-7757-2362-6 (Deutsch / German)
Unser gesamtes lieferbares Programm und viele andere Informationen finden Sie unter www.hatjecantz.de / You will find our complete list of available titles and more information at www.hatjecantz.com
128 Seiten / pages, 54 farbige Abbildungen / color illustrations
GABRIEL OROZCO Herausgegeben vom / Edited by Kunstmuseum Basel 256 Seiten / pages, 478 farbige Abbildungen / color illustrations Gebunden / Hardcover ISBN 978-3-7757-2510-1 (Deutsch / German)
In den 1960er-Jahren haben KĂźnstler verstĂ¤rkt begonnen, die Bedingungen fĂźr die Entstehung von Kunstâ€“Produktion, PrĂ¤sentation und Rezeptionâ€“zu untersuchen. Mit Minimal Art, Institutionskritik und Kontextkunst hat sich eine ambivalente Haltung gegenĂźber dem Objekt entwickelt, was letztlich auch die Frage nach dem Sinn und Zweck von Skulptur im gegenwĂ¤rtigen Kontext aufwirft. Diese Publikation prĂ¤sentiert Arbeiten sechs zeitgenĂśssischer KĂźnstlerâ€“Phyllida Barlow, Michael Beutler, Alexandra Bircken, Vincent Fecteau, Anita Leisz, Kimberly Sexton â€“, die sich durch einen prozessorientierten Ansatz auszeichnen und sich bei der Formfindung explorativ mit den unterschiedlichsten Materialien und Handlungen auseinandersetzen, und leistet damit einen Ăźberblicksartigen Beitrag zum Begriff des skulpturalen Handelns.
ABOVE THE FOLD Ayse Erkmen, Ceal Floyer, David Lamelas Herausgegeben von / Edited by Nikola Dietrich 160 Seiten / pages, 80 farbige Abbildungen / color illustrations Gebunden / Hardcover ISBN 978-3-7757-2229-2 (Deutschâ€“ Englisch / Germanâ€“English)
Das Haus der Kunst prĂ¤sentiert die Arbeiten von / presents the works by:
PHYLLIDA BARLOW MICHAEL BEUTLER ALEXANDRA BIRCKEN VINCENT FECTEAU ANITA LEISZ
128 Seiten / pages, 54 farbige Abbildungen / color illustrations
Patrizia Dander & Julienne Lorz
Morris spoke of “unitary forms” or “gestalt,”5 while Judd referred to “threedimensional work”6 or, as in the aforementioned title, “specific objects.” Later accepted terms such as Minimal Art or Minimalism were used to identify this kind of art, which predominantly made use of industrial materials, often employing industrial working methods (the artist’s hand is invisible), as well
Sculptural Acts brings together two seemingly disparate elements: sculpture
as a sense of wholeness as opposed to separate, compositional parts. With
and the act. While sculpture is ordinarily associated with a state of stasis, the
regard to the latter, space and within that, the observer became integral to the
act suggests movement or an action of some sort. The premise here is the acts
works: the shape affects the space and the viewer affects the shape by moving
involved in making sculpture; processes that are not usually presented or vis-
around the space.7
ible to the viewer, but which are, nevertheless, inscribed in the way materials
Just two years after publishing “Notes on Sculpture,” in 1968 Morris wrote
are used. As Donald Judd writes in 1965: “The form of a work and its materi-
another influential essay for Artforum entitled “Anti Form” as a direct re-
als are closely related,”1 which is where Sculptural Acts departs from: focusing
sponse to Michael Fried’s critique of, as he called it, “literalist art.” 8 In it
on the materiality of form, and, additionally, the processes manifest within.
Morris suggests that process be considered an important aspect, which has
This is where the term “process art” or art historian and critic Robert Pincus-
been traditionally disregarded. He cites the painter Jackson Pollock as being
Witten’s Post-Minimalism, which describes the moment when “minimalism
the only Abstract Expressionist artist, who “was able to recover process and
gave way to the behavior of materials in the act of making,”2 becomes relevant
hold on to it as part of the end form of the work. Pollock’s recovery of process
with regard to the art historical context. A case in point is Richard Serra’s
involved a profound rethinking of the role of both material and tools in making.” 9
Verb List (1967–1968), also referred to as Verb List Compilation: Actions to Re-
In turn, Morris applies this to the genre of sculpture. In other words, the art-
late to Oneself, Material, Place, and Process.3 Around eighty verbs describe vari-
ist’s manipulation of the materials manifests itself in the final form of the
ous actions, such as “to roll,” “to crease,” “to fold,” “to store” interspersed by
work, and, more importantly, with regard to Sculptural Acts, the viewer is able
just over twenty nouns such as “of tension,” “of gravity,” “of grouping,” “of
to experience the artist’s act, even if it is not in a literal sense. By mentally
simultaneity” that define the characteristics of individual elements and their
following the physical traces manifest in the manipulation of the materials the act or action begins to emerge.
relations to each other. In an interview with John Tusa, Serra states: I wanted to enact the verbs without think-
Placing the emphasis on process and the act of its creation, brought about a
ing, in relation to material, without thinking
further aspect in that Serra, Morris, and other artists confronted the notion
about their ends or their conclusions, without
of an artwork as a commercial object. Later, this ambivalent approach to the
having to define them in terms of art, but to
object found its continuation in institutional critique and contextual art.
involve myself in a process of making so that
Today artists no longer consider these acts as ends in themselves, but rather
I could understand the physical potential of
select them with regard to their social and cultural connotations. References
what it was to do something in relation [to]
to the act and production is articulated very differently by each artist, as is
material without having to get into a hierar-
clear in the positions presented in Sculptural Acts.There is evidence of an
chy of judgment or evaluation about its defi-
opening toward a sculptural practice that integrates an understanding of the
nition as art or sculpture.4
previously mentioned developments—partly explicitly and partly intuitive-
In the nineteen-sixties, it was artists such as the aforementioned Judd as well
ly—within personal artistic production. In consideration of the referentiality,
as Robert Morris, who were confronting preconceived notions about sculpture
found in several artworks in recent years, it seems important to emphasize
not only in their art, but also in their writing: Judd with “Specific Objects”
that terms such as “intuition” or “subjectivity” should not be confused with
in 1965 and Morris with “Notes on Sculpture 1–3,” in 1966–67. Both were
“random” or “imprecise,” rather it indicates a form of knowledge, which is not necessarily conceptual and thereby linguistic, but is generated by gaining
advocating a new form of sculpture for which they preferred different terms:
knowledge through making. The artists are thoroughly aware, which social 1 2 3
Donald Judd, “Specific Objects,” in Complete Writings 1959–1975 (Nova Scotia, 1975), pp. 187–88. Robert Pincus-Witten as quoted in “Process,” in Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz eds., Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (Berkeley, 1999), p. 577. The addition to the title “actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process” relates to an interview Serra gave to Avalanche (Winter 1971), as quoted by Benjamin H.D. Buchloh in “Process Sculpture and Film in the Work of Richard Serra,” in Hal Foster and Gordon Hughes eds., Richard Serra (Cambridge, 2000), fn7, p. 19. John Tusa, interview with Richard Serra, BBC Radio 3, August 15, 2008.
PATR I Z IA DA N D ER & J UL I EN N E LO R Z
5 6 7 8 9
Robert Morris, “Notes on Sculpture, Part 1,” in Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris (Cambridge, 1993), pp. 7–8. Judd, p. 184. Morris, p. 16. Michael Fried, “Art and Objecthood,” in Art and Objecthood—Essays and Reviews (Chicago, 1998), p. 148. Robert Morris, “Anti Form,” Artforum (April 1968).
S C U LP T U R A L AC T S
and cultural references are connected to processes in production and presenta-
The works by Barlow, Beutler, and Kimberly Sexton specifically created for
tion with regard to the aforementioned developments in sculptural practices.
this exhibition reveal references to the Haus der Kunst’s architecture—be-
Thereby, they do not linger with delimiting definitions and conceptual stipu-
yond this, though, architectural forms are also relevant within their oeuvres.
lations in their actions. The scepsis toward the object is confronted within
Barlow’s untitled: eleven columns; standing, fallen, broken (2011, p. 53) are remi-
its own medium in an explorative examination through the handling of the
niscent of the row of columns that dominate the north and south façade of
materials and forms. In the foreground is the considered development of a
the Haus der Kunst. The underlying grid of Michael Beutler’s paper modules
singular work. However, to dismiss such an inherent approach as formalism
refer directly to the physical dimensions of the exhibitions space’s floor tiles,
or return to the autonomous sculpture would be insufficient, as the following
while Kimberly Sexton places her angular pillar fragments consisting of plas-
texts and in particular Daniela Stöppel’s essay on Phyllida Barlow10 illustrate.
ter corner casts in relation to these tiles. Sexton is principally interested in
Instead the artists are working on a kind of sculpture that in all its openness
the corner as a constitutive spatial element. At the same time, she considers
and contestability is once again dedicated to the sculptural.
these as places of intimacy, comparable to the human body’s underarm, and,
While the monographic texts attend to the idiosyncrasy of the respective ar-
thereby, creating a connection between architecture and the body. Through
tistic approaches, the aim here is to highlight several connections between
manual manipulation Sexton’s Columns (2011, pp. 114–15) are charged with
the works. In the first instance it is the manual production—quite in contrast
(sexual) connotations that diametrically oppose the architecture’s severity.
to the aforementioned Minimalists—that is notable, using readily available
Despite the large dimensions that some of the works have, they neverthe-
materials. Anita Leisz, for instance, cuts and manipulates first and foremost
less seem to critically confront the demand for permanence. The reasons are
primed gypsum fiberboards or chipboard. Only small traces of her “artist’s
partly to do with economic realities: until recently, Phyllida Barlow destroyed
hand” remain, while Alexandra Bircken’s use of (artistic) craft techniques such
the majority of her works, which were often too big to store, and reused the
as knitting and knotting of yarn, rope, and wire are more apparent. Michael
various materials for new works. Similarly Kimberly Sexton’s Columns’ du-
Beutler manually produces his large-scale paper modules and designs appa-
rability is restricted to the duration of this exhibition: they are so fragile that
ratuses especially for this task, recalling workshop-like production methods.
it makes it near to impossible to transport them. A distinct awareness for the
The artists may not delegate the works’ embodiments to the process,11 how-
historical problematization of a sculpture “made for eternity” is articulated
ever the resulting restrictions are understood as a productive motor. Beutler,
in this fragility.
thereby, develops and refines his apparatuses through “learning by doing” un-
Further common ground is evident in the way that the works become primarily
til the desired result is reached.12 Similarly the statical requirements of Vin-
accessible in their appearance and independent sculptural form. In this sense
cent Fecteau’s wall objects are an example of this: the sculptures are modeled
they absolutely meet Vincent Fecteau’s requirements: “I’d like to think that
around an integrated tube that is simultaneously a hanging device and sup-
whatever my work has to offer is available to someone simply willing to
port—a condition that has considerably influenced the form finding process.
look.”14 And elsewhere he says: “Once something can be perfectly described
Not knowing what the final form of a work will be connects Fecteau’s and
in words it ceases it’s reason to be a visual object.”15
Bircken’s art. Though even when exact ideas for a final form exist, the artists
With this statement Fecteau refers to a basic problem that arises in the engage-
allow themselves to be steered by the materials and their characteristics.
ment with visual art, which mostly occurs via a linguistic system and, there-
Furthermore, an emphasis on physicality is legible not only in Bircken’s use
by, assumes that it is generally possible to translate the visual into language.
of clothing and other human “attributes,” but also Anita Leisz’s reduced ob-
However, with sculptures, whose third-dimensionality postulate a heightened
jects with their human scale and precise detailing pick up on Michael Fried’s
physicality of perception—which involves the necessary procedures of walk-
critique of Minimalism.13 They highlight an anthropomorphic and contextual
ing along, circling, and viewing from different angles in order to understand
perception, and, accordingly, are absolutely to be understood as characters.
a work—this seems even more questionable than dealing with the pictorial
Anthropomorphic qualities also mark the expansive works by Phyllida Bar-
plane. In fact, with regard to the works presented here, it is the experiencing of
low and Michael Beutler. The individual elements stand, recline, or lean in the
the complex interplay between the materials’ attributes (how malleable, rough,
space. The eccentricity and humor present in several of the works shown are
recalcitrant), artistic process (stacking, knotting, painting), and the spatial
rooted within this literally understood corporeality.
constellations (emptiness, density, height, expansion) that is central. In other words, aspects that can be expressed with language, but do not allow for an
10 See Daniela Stöppel, “Phyllida Barlow. The Sculptural Per Se?,” in this catalogue, pp. 45–47. 11 See Deborah Bürgel, “Kimberly Sexton. Beyond Cire Perd ue,” in this catalogue, pp. 106–09. 12 See Zoë Gray, “Michael Beutler. Cutting and Sticking,” in this catalogue, pp. 57–59. 13 Fried, 1998 (see note 8).
PAT R I Z IA DA N D ER & J UL I EN N E LO R Z
14 Vincent Fecteau, “In Conversation. Vincent Fecteau with Constance Lewellen,” The Brooklyn Rail, September, 2009, http://www.brooklynrail.org/2009/09/art/vincent-fecteau (accessed on August 30, 2011). 15 Vincent Fecteau, e-mail message to authors, February 3, 2011.
S C U LP T U R A L AC T S
exhaustive description. In an essay on the artist Eva Hesse, Phyllida Barlow phrased this aptly: “With sculpture rooted in process and touch and which evidence themselves as the essential experiences of the object itself, it can be dif-
AUSSTELLUNGSANSICHTEN / INSTALLATION VIEWS
ficult to translate such qualities into verbal language. The difficulty belongs to an expectation that what is said, what the words are, will have an absolute integrity when matched against the object itself.”16 The shortcomings of language become surprisingly obvious in Michael Beutler’s onomatopoeic work descriptions with which Zoë Gray begins her essay.17 Precisely because the works presented here elude to, at least partially, a verbalization, they allow for their visual, or rather sculptural, qualities to become all the more apparent. They disclose an alternative approach to the works and, ultimately, to the world, as Vincent Fecteau describes it: “Language is a major part of the way we negotiate the world, but it’s not the only way we think. Shapes, colors, spaces, textures inevitably invoke specific references but the inverse is also real. The world around us, even our emotional or psychological world, can be experienced as a continually shifting arrangement of shapes, colors, spaces, textures.”18 This exhibition confronts language as the dominant mode of thinking with experience, which is suffused by a visual and sensual intelligence. That this is informed by a potential critique is clearly visible in these artists’ works.
16 Phyllida Barlow, “Lost for Words,” in Mark Godfrey et al., Objects for . . . and other things. Phyllida Barlow (London, 2004), p. 216. 17 Please see note 12, p. 57. 18 Vincent Fecteau interview by Bruce Hainley, “Back to Front,” frieze 131 (May 2010).
PATR I Z I A DA N D ER & J U L I E N N E LO R Z