Modern Sculpture

Exploding Sheds and Unmade Beds.
Ideas and influences in Contemporary Sculpture

Until the 20thcentury, sculpture was regarded as the most conservative of visual art forms. Modernist movements such as Cubism, Surrealism, Dadaism and Futurism took sculpture in new and often baffling directions. Freed from its traditional pre-occupation with the representation of the human figure in a public, often architectural, setting, sculpture became, and continues to be, the means by which artists challenge accepted aesthetic norms.  Artists and theorists have expanded the notion of what is regarded as sculpture to the extent that traditional definitions and boundaries have collapsed leaving contemporary sculpture accused of hastening “the end of art”. 

This lecture looks at, and behind, the forms of contemporary sculpture. Starting with Sol LeWitt’s declaration that “conceptual art is made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than their eye or emotions”, it will discuss and analyse the ideas expressed through the work of artists such as Richard Long, Rachel Whiteread, Tracey Emin, Antony Gormley and Tony Cragg. These ideas raise important questions about our relationships to the objects around us, the land, the built environment, each other and to art itself. 

Lecture given to Artistory, Norwich. 15th December 2018