From 17 December 1987 to 30 April 1988
Curated by Rudi Fuchs, Johannes Gachnang and Francesco Poli
During the 20th century, sculpture – like the other traditional art forms – underwent changes so profound that its very status was brought into question. This loss of identity led to the gradual expansion of its boundaries, the ongoing integration of its expressive language, and the progressive sedimentation of formal solutions and contrasting meanings. The Conceptual Artists of the 1960s and 1970s rediscovered the inherent potential of basic forms and materials, paving the way for the next generation of artists who re-appropriated sculpture and began to reinvestigate its most traditional characteristics, developing solutions that, while they did not quite represent a continuum with the work of the previous generation, did not dramatically break away from it either.
By presenting the work of sculptors belonging to different generations, this exhibition illustrated the complex stratification of contemporary sculpture that resulted from these diverse and profound modifications, taking as its theme standing sculptures placed within an architectural space. A “standing” sculpture engages in a relationship with the surrounding space that is primarily manifested as an occupying presence or relief and is indirectly defined by its coordinates, thus permitting an experience of space that is aligned to principles strictly intrinsic to sculpture, such as horizontality, verticality, depth and width, elaborated – however – via different associations of structure and composition.
Sol LeWitt’s cubic forms subdivide the space, superimposing a more general mathematical and logical structure onto it; this preoccupation with transcending “mere” physical space can also be felt in the oil-smeared blocks by Joseph Beuys. John Chamberlain’s sheet metal piles assume a vital, biological expressivity, finding echoes in the silent forces that animate Giuseppe Penone’s delicate leaves, or in the strict functionality of the forces that support Richard Serra’s metal slabs and give unity and stability to Eduardo Chillida’s micro-architecture.