New Publications

Two exciting publication updates to begin the summer! I contributed an essay on the reception and collection of work by the English sculptor Lynn Chadwick (1914-2003) in the United States to Lynn Chadwick: A Sculptor on the International Stage (2019). Chadwick specialist Michael Bird edited the beautifully illustrated book and also contributed the wonderful lead essay. Available now at via Scheidegger & Spiess, Amazon, and … Continue reading New Publications

Public Sculpture is Having a Moment in the Midwest

On August 8, my beloved, complex, imperfect city of Chicago did the civic/art version of an historical battlefield reenactment…sort of. The event marked the fiftieth anniversary of the public unveiling on August 15, 1967 of Picasso’s untitled metal behemoth, now known simply as “The Picasso” (see Google Maps) or in its updated 2017 social media parlance, #EveryonesPicasso. So once again the mayor (Rahm Emanuel filling … Continue reading Public Sculpture is Having a Moment in the Midwest

Calder Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum

I am thrilled be giving the Fall 2016 Howard E. Wooden Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum, this Thursday, November 17. If you are in the greater Wichita area please join us. Alexander Calder, Large-Scale Sculpture, and the Public Sphere In the 1970s, Wichita put itself firmly on the map of the art world when it commissioned Joan Miró and Alexander Calder–two living artists at the height … Continue reading Calder Lecture at the Wichita Art Museum

If you like art, y’all really should get yourself to Dallas…

Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, and Picasso, 1943-1963 at Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, and Picasso, 1943-1963 at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas. Photo by the author.

I haven’t posted any new entries over the past couple of weeks on account of a busy travel schedule that took me to from Chicago to Louisville (for a very lovely non-sculpture, though hilariously art history-related wedding), then to Dallas (for a very lovely new exhibition on ceramic sculpture), back to Chicago for night, before departing for a new academic term in Leeds. Over the next few weeks I will be posting on the two current exhibitions at the Henry Moore Institute, The Age to Innocence: Replicating the Ideal Portrait in the New Sculpture Movement and Indifferent Matter: From Object to Sculpture, a piece related to a new research project on the Italian artist Alberto Burri, and the Nasher Sculpture Center’s recently opened Return to Earth: Ceramic Sculpture of Fontana, Melotti, Miró, Noguchi, and Picasso, 1943-1963; the latter being the reason for my trip to Dallas. So a nice early autumn line-up of sculptural things, but I thought I would do a quick post today about Dallas as a bona-fide destination for art and architecture enthusiasts.

Richard Serra's My Curves Are Not Mad (1987), currently installed in the garden of the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas
Richard Serra’s My Curves Are Not Mad (1987), Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas. Photo by the author.

Now in full disclosure, I lived in Dallas for six years. I began my career at the Nasher Sculpture Center and fell in love with sculpture while working there for nearly all of those six years. I interned at the Dallas Museum of Art, and received an MA from Southern Methodist University. So I unavoidably have a bias, but I think as an outsider who never fully acclimated and with the exception of its appearance in the above title, fervently resisted the ubiquitous ‘y’all’ while living there, I am also cognizant of the widespread bias against Dallas, especially by those based in larger, more cosmopolitan cities. None of this, however, should dissuade you though from taking my most sincere advice to put Dallas on your arts radar, especially for this autumn. A lot has changed in Dallas and there is a lot going on. Continue reading “If you like art, y’all really should get yourself to Dallas…”

The Absence of Monuments

Removal of statue of Saddam Hussein in al-Firdos Square on 9 April 2003. Photo by Mirrorpix/Getty Images
Removal of statue of Saddam Hussein in Firdos Square on 9 April 2003. Photo by Mirrorpix/Getty Images
“Historically, the monument–as distinguished from all other things that are present–was supposed to endure for all time.”¹

The monument, here used in relation to public sculpture, is a particular kind of thing. By virtue of its placement in an open, accessible location, it reaches a wide audience and because of this reach is often understood as an object of collective import, whether speaking to supposed universal truths or serving as a receptacle for memorialization. This understanding of the ‘monument’ and sculpture’s connection to the notion of monumentality has undergone considerable revision in recent years, but the history of public things has always been tenuous and problematic. And yet, in the face of such instability, monuments continue to endure; entrenched both in physical space and the collective consciousness. Beyond the subject matter they were created to convey, public sculptures become receptors for much larger issues, and nodes for exchange: meeting points, sites of grief and triumph, landmarks, and social gathering places. These functions insulate the work in a way, making any proposed extrication or destruction difficult (see as one example among many, a recent case involving a community hit hard by the economic downturn and one such entrenched thing, a sculpture by Henry Moore). Continue reading “The Absence of Monuments”