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  #1  
Old 11-08-2010, 10:48 PM
rika rika is offline
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The state of contemporary sculpture

In his review of Sculpture by the Sea and another Australian show of small sculptures,Christopher Allen notes:

"What makes good sculpture is at once simple and complex. There has to be an idea or subject, but not one that can be explained in conceptual terms; that is superficial and sterile.

There has to be a material into which the idea or subject can be embodied. The material must undergo transformation; and it must have its own distinct and even stubborn character, so that the transformation is a kind of metamorphosis.

That is why it is a waste of time to make sculptures out of bits and pieces or to use materials that have no resistance, such as industrial resins and plastics.

It is also pointless to make models of things that are already human artefacts and thus finite in form.

The real idea or subject has to be non-finite and complex; the process of representing it has to involve invention and imagination, not simply copying and scaling up."

I reject his objections regarding assembled sculpture and choice of materials, but other than that I thought he made some good points. Indeed, looking at the sculptures, there isn't much memorable there, many have no character, no aim. Is that why much contemporary sculpture fails to connect with audiences?
How do you guys see the state of contemporary sculpture?

Here is the whole article:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news...-1225948010737
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  #2  
Old 11-08-2010, 11:38 PM
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Aaron Schroeder Aaron Schroeder is offline
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Let them talk about sculpture.
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  #3  
Old 11-09-2010, 09:19 AM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

one person's opinion.
Sculpture is a spark. In some the spark will catch, others, not. Perhaps the point is people's boredom with their chosen focus, or the remains after the party. As a form the sunglasses are interesting, as an icon they invoke good thoughts.
I get tired of folks telling me what I should be interested in, what I should be using, how I should think. I get tired of their boredom. That's a personal problem. Has it always been that people wield their boredom as a threat, a weapon?

nostalgia as a driver
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:23 AM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Quote:
"What makes good sculpture is at once simple and complex. There has to be an idea or subject, but not one that can be explained in conceptual terms; that is superficial and sterile.

There has to be a material into which the idea or subject can be embodied. The material must undergo transformation; and it must have its own distinct and even stubborn character, so that the transformation is a kind of metamorphosis.

That is why it is a waste of time to make sculptures out of bits and pieces or to use materials that have no resistance, such as industrial resins and plastics.

It is also pointless to make models of things that are already human artefacts and thus finite in form.

The real idea or subject has to be non-finite and complex; the process of representing it has to involve invention and imagination, not simply copying and scaling up."
How to design an artistic strait jacket. This argument is so full of holes...it must be non-sense.
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  #5  
Old 11-09-2010, 10:09 AM
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evaldart evaldart is offline
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Quote:
There has to be an idea or subject, but not one that can be explained in conceptual terms; that is superficial and sterile.
This sentence, out of all the others, proves his thinking weak. BUT, in his own less-than-advanced manner, he has gotten himself on the right track by venturing some convictions. Some more hard work and some more hard thinking will save him. Plenty of other artists (the wishy-washy and non-committal) are well behind him. He'll be okay eventually.

The "contemporary-ness" of sculpture only depends upon its participation and visibility within the scheme of current (sculpture) events. It is NOT an issue of style or an issue of how it addresses or rejects tradition. It is not well-placed energy to wonder about the status of contemporary sculpture. THAT stuff happens in the art "career" not the art "life". Such a trifle is easily handled in the meanderings of the 87.7% of obligated travail which puts meat on the plate and beer in the fridge.

Last edited by evaldart : 11-09-2010 at 10:21 AM.
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  #6  
Old 11-09-2010, 10:44 AM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Quote:
Originally Posted by rika View Post

How do you guys see the state of contemporary sculpture?
I am alive. I sculpt. Therefore, if all else fails, contemporary sculpture has at least one good thing going for it!

I hope the rest of you feel this way about your work as well.
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  #7  
Old 11-09-2010, 11:06 AM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

since a "conceptual" term is one containing a concept, ie an idea, what possible other type of term is there?

is it only sculpture if it can be explained in meaningless terms?

this is like the blind man describing the elephant.
this guy has a very accurate description of an area immediately below the tail, but as far as describing the foot, or the tongue, or the ear hairs, he is clueless.
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  #8  
Old 11-09-2010, 11:08 AM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Quote:
Originally Posted by rika View Post
Is that why much contemporary sculpture fails to connect with audiences?
I'm not so sure this is true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rika View Post
It is also pointless to make models of things that are already human artefacts and thus finite in form.
Hah..a model of a thing derives its relevance from being just that - a model or a representation of a "real" thing. That is no finite or simple act.
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  #9  
Old 11-09-2010, 04:13 PM
Andrew Werby Andrew Werby is offline
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The nice thing about contemporary art is

that we can each make up our own rules about it. If the author, Christopher Allen, is a sculptor, and his set of rules works for him, then that's great - I hope it leads him to a productive period in which he creates a lot of sculpture that he's proud of. If he's a critic, though, then it seems like he's walling himself off from a lot of contemporary sculpture practice, which seems a bit closed-minded in someone whose job it is to seek out new and interesting work for presentation to the public. His set of probibitions - no resin or plastic, no assemblage, no human artifacts, etc. seem more like matters of his own personal taste than reflective of any coherent theory of art.

There's no more discernable substance to his pronouncements about what's desirable in sculpture: there has to be a "non-finite and complex" idea or subject, it must be made of some distinct and obdurate material that undergoes transformation, it has to be something one would want to live with for an extended period, etc. He asserts these dicta, but doesn't bother justifying them, while admitting that much of the work that the rest of us consider to be sculpture - as exhibited in galleries, and published in magazines - wouldn't qualify.

To use the test he advocates - no, this is not a piece of writing about art that I'd bother picking up off the footpath...

Andrew Werby
juxtamorph.com
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  #10  
Old 11-14-2010, 02:17 PM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Rika,

The best reply I can give to this topic is to quote the science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon who (in the early 1950s) supposedly replied to a disgruntled fan who confronted him with the statement that '90% of Science Fiction was crud.' Sturgeon replied, "Ninety percent of everything is crud."

This later became known as Sturgeon's Revelation or (sometimes) as Sturgeon's Law. In 1957 he added a corollary, "The existence of immense quantities of trash in science fiction is admitted and it is regrettable; but it is no more unnatural than the existence of trash anywhere."

Same holds true for sculpture, and for 'critical' writing about sculpture.

And of course like everything else in the world the perceptions of which items compose the 90% and which compose the 10% will vary with the viewer's perspective. 'Everything' is relative, and just because some of the things Allen states in the review resonate with your own perceptions doesn't mean they all should. A clock (analog) with a broken mechanism shows the correct time twice a day. A dogmatic approach to anything is likely to leave much to be seen as trash on anyone's path. What do I pick-up? Well, like Harpo Marx, I've sometimes been accused of 'picking-up spit' . . . <grin>

Grommet's link to the article about nostalgia as a driver is very telling about how we (as a multi-faceted culture) are constantly being moved by many driving forces to modify our shared perceptions. Absolutes are meaningless except from very specific viewpoints. When I am helping a student to figure out what they want to carve-away in a block of stone I point out to them that the 2D guide-lines they have just drawn on the surface of the 3D block are meaningless unless they carve from the same viewpoint as the guide-lines were first drawn from any other angle the 2D lines simply confuse. And as the block is carved-away the guide-lines must of necessity disappear as the material surfaces on which they temporarily exist are removed, and then new guide-lines must then be re-drawn on the new surface layer so as to reflect the newly-revealed reality.

To reword something another artist friend of mine (a painter) tells his (painting) students; "There are two rules to being a sculptor. The first rule is that sculptors must sculpt. The second rule is that there are no other rules."

So I sculpt.
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  #11  
Old 11-14-2010, 05:48 PM
furby furby is offline
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

He's right about one thing for sure, that making big objects based on real objects that already exist, is a wank. The trouble with sculpture by the sea, apart from (in my opinion) being a total money spinning rip off run by @$$holes, but we wont go into that, is that you're "by the sea" therefore every sculptor is competing with landscape. And yes, u got to lose, the only thing you can do it scale up like crazy. Since you are not allowed to do earthworks. Thus, u get a lot of crap sculpture that's just "big things".

Having said that Anthony Caro has one this year and without having seen it I can imagine that it works very nicely cos it will be a good sculpture.

Some people, just can't make "great" sculpture.. So they make big versions of stuff that's usually small, and it gives a viewer a sudden surprise, which is like, hey wow, a huge rubber duck, how extraordinary! but u can only do that once before it gets real old.

There's nothing wrong with not being as good as, say, Anthony Caro, but a little *imagination* would be a nice change.
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Old 11-14-2010, 07:54 PM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Thats funny, I always thought Anthony Caro was a "wank".

Well, not really, but the stuff doesnt move me in the slightest- my point being, tastes differ.

And yes, I do sometimes make small things big.

But over here we spell it "yank".
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Old 11-14-2010, 08:44 PM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

I sometimes make small things big too. But I never worry about what gets made because the "making" is where the good stuff happens; not in the regarding of the artifact like a common viewer.
Wanking is letting other folks put their greasy hands on your work during go-time OR having things made for you (which means you are getting no go time at all). I'm a Caro fan and quite DO even like the physical brutality of his new work. But there might be some wanking going on there...as he is really old and frail now. He should probably be painting.
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  #14  
Old 11-14-2010, 09:04 PM
furby furby is offline
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Nah ... we have to agree to differ - to me, making small things (that you never invented yourself anyway), the same but bigger, is a one-trick pony. There is no depth or meaning. Oh, apart from telegraphing the desperate need to compete with the landscape, but I said that already.

However this is in no way a commentary on contemporary sculpture - it's merely a commentary on how crap 'sculpture by the sea' is.. And down here in Oz we have nothing else to compare it to.
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Old 11-14-2010, 10:50 PM
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

Michelangelo didnt invent the human figure (David, Pieta). Those were two small things that he made bigger. Suppose you think that is wanking, F.

Besides, artists are not inventors at all. Inventions are servants...designed to facilitate...make life easy-squeezy and efficient. Sculptures are for making life more difficult; for chore-ing experience and perception, for setting up the hard-gained attainment of greater rewards.

Hah, and the landscape. What a joke that breadth of visual arrangement is. Always just every-damned-where at once. Distant and accidental, not "made" at all. Just there. The sea, and the sand and the sky are easily "defeated" by any real sculpture, large OR mini. Vastness is only impressive to the diminished. Nature humbles the meek.

Though a big mountain at the right time of day is indeed a visual treat...it cant compete with art.
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  #16  
Old 11-15-2010, 01:21 AM
furby furby is offline
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Re: The state of contemporary sculpture

You completely misunderstand me, E.. I refer to grabbing a cute object, made by someone else already, perhaps a common place known object like a rubber duck, and making it 10 foot tall but however not adding anything to it except perhaps coloring it different. There is 1 joke there. Hilarious. Look, its big! But this 1 joke is repeated every year in this exhibition, and this year many times. We seen it already, it's not funny anymore..

How on earth do u get from that that I think Michelangelo is a wanker? No, don't answer that, I think you have decided I am a wanker and u will put me in my place. Sure enuff its a free world, go ahead. However this is not what I inferred.
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