The Lure of Sculpture as Dynamic Space

For centuries artists have been lured to sculpture because it occupies three dimensional space.  As such, sculpture may be viewed as a more dynamic medium that is capable of closing the distance between the artist as communicator and the museum or gallery visitor as viewer.  Regardless of the materials used by  the artist, sculpture is able to effectively touch the spectator in ways that painting, printmaking, drawing, photography and other forms of 2D design are prevented from accomplishing.  One of America’s most prominent contemporary artist/sculptor was Donald Judd (1928-1994).  Judd had a strong affinity for sculpture because:  “Three dimensions are real space.  That gets rid of the problem of illusionism and of literal space, space in and around marks and colors—which is riddance of one of the most salient and most objectionable relics of European art.  The several limits of painting are no longer present.  A work can be as powerful as it can be thought to be.  Actual space is intrinsically more powerful and specific than paint on a flat surface.”  What are your thoughts on sculpture as a medium of artistic communication and do you agree/disagree with Donald Judd’s assertion quoted above?

Donald Judd, Untitled (installation at Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas)


Christo Javacheff and Art in Public Places

Christo Javacheff, a Bulgarian born artist, has developed a magnificent career as an artist who creates short-lived spectacles in the public arena.  For New York City, an urban environment Christo has called home for a number of years, the artist created the Gates Project.  Such public art projects take considerable time to be realized.  So much time and effort is spent getting the necessary “permits” and “approvals” most artists don’t have the patience or fortitude to realize their dream within the tortuous bureaucracy of cities.  Christo possesses extraordinary patience and a doggedness that is almost beyond belief.  The Gates Project for New York City, installed/experienced/de-installed in February 2005, is one such example.  It took the artist nearly 30 years to get the necessary permits for this project!  Christo looks back on his very creative life and states:  “The freedom of every artist is essential.  Our work is a scream of freedom.  The work of art is a scream of freedom.  To keep that absolute freedom we cannot be obliged to anyone.  We wish to work in total freedom. And for every project, because it takes years, you can see the early drawings and collages as just a simple, vague idea, and through the years and through the negotiations of getting the permit, you see that every detail is now clarified.  We tell them that we believe it will be beautiful because that is our speciality, we only create joy and beauty.  We have never done a sad work.  Through the drawings, we hope a majority will be able to visualize it.”  What are your thoughts on Art in Public Places like the Gates Project, why do city administrative officials make the artist continually jump through so many bureaucratic hoops, and does the Gates Project appear to you to be joy and beauty fixed into temporary form?

Christo Javacheff, Drawing for the Gates Project, 1979

What is Art or Is that Art?

This week’s blog question deals with a perception issue that, quite frankly, has never been able to develop or arrive at a definitive answer.  Nevertheless, the question continues to be intriguing and surprisingly pertinent in today’s culture wars climate.   Select a work of art that we have discussed in class or, if you have traveled and spent time in Art museums/galleries, recall a work of art that you have seen and describe your estimation of that piece as to whether it is or is not ART.  Use the following statement by American painter Robert Motherwell as a possible “point of entry” into your assessment:  “The history of modern art…is the history of modern freedom.”


Norman Rockwell, The Connoisseur, 1962