Page 22 - Studio International - February 1969
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of its existence. Two characteristics then,   the sort of social existence which it might   specific physical activity. In so far as there is
      which sculpture is increasingly coming to   successfully have.                       any attempt to justify this sort of concern
      share, are that change is valued and seen as a   It is an extraordinary and comparatively   through reference to the 'social' role of art, it
      good thing in itself, and that newness of form   recent development that has enabled our   can only be thought of as extraordinarily
      is valued above originality of content—or is   present culture to distinguish itself in this way.   crude, if, not also totally ineffective.
       not distinguished from it.               A sculptor now may have absolute jurisdiction   There is virtually no possibility of the content
       Objects are characterized by ownership. They   over the form of his work. He may choose to   of sculptures directly having significant social
      could not continue to flourish as they do at   make whatever kind of thing he pleases, since   consequences. It is this fact, amongst others,
       present if this form of characterization were in   whatever it actually is, it is unlikely that it can   consciously grasped and welcomed, that has
       decline. Consequent upon this is the fact that   of itself (so long as it is categorized as sculp-  enabled sculptors to enjoy their present free-
      most objects have some function as indicators   ture) much influence or affect anything out-  dom. The nature of this freedom must be given
       of social role, status or life style. They are seen   side the world of sculpture. The kind of   constant attention if it is to be used more
      as extensions of the person, as a means of self   attention given to sculpture is not primarily   effectively or even to continue to be enjoyed.
       or group identification. Contemporary ver-  motivated by a need to make distinctions of   It must not be assumed that sculptures have
       balization about sculpture is increasingly in   content and meaning between one work and   no social reality of any kind, that they do not
      similar terms. The character of the sculptor   another. It rarely recognizes an intention on   exist as facts in a social context, or that they
       looms larger than his work; his work is seen   the part of-the sculptor and credits him with   are not attended to in any kind of way at all,
       as information about his identity.        no choice of intention.                   by people other than the sculptor.
       While all objects have some potential for   It may be thought that I am speaking of an   Unless sculptors are concerned to see that it
       this 'social use', some are used blatantly as   uninterested, uninformed and generalized   will not, it is probable that the nature of the
       prestige weapons. There is an equation be-  mass of persons who are of little importance   attention given to their work will be effective
       tween the extent to which an object can confer   to the 'professional' sculptor. I am not. On   in determining what they do. That is to say,
       prestige (excluding precious materials and   the other hand, it should not be assumed that   they are more likely either to make things to
       fashion), and the extent to which it is identi-  the existence of a large number of uninterested   which such attention as is given is appropriate,
       fiable in terms of who designed or made it. It   and uninformed persons is wholly irrelevant   or to make things which are primarily in-
       is not irrelevant to their existence that sculp-  to the development of sculpture. I said earlier   tended to provoke some other kind of atten-
       tures are always identified in these terms.   that it is a characteristic of contemporary art   tion. It is my contention that, to a far greater
       There is also an equation between the poten-  forms that they are of little immediate social   degree than is acknowledged, the develop-
       tial commercial success of an artist and the   relevance. An art form tends to some extent   ments taking place in sculpture are being
       ease with which his work can be recognized.   today to be defined in terms of the absence of   determined in this way. I am not speaking of
       I do not intend to imply that the use of the   specific social consequences resulting from   the necessary give-and-take of ideas, or of the
       artists' names is not a useful way of classifying   what happens within it. That this is not al-  high regard or disregard as between one
       sculptures, only that, in so far as they are   ways absolutely true, or that it has not been   sculptor and another. I am speaking of the
       seen as a category of object, sculptures are   the case in other cultural situations, is beside   attention given by those in areas of society in
       likely to be highly prestigious; that they are   the point.                         which sculptors profess to have no interest.
       so, regardless of their content, is critical.   If, say, sculpture were to become of greater   The absence of any apparent immediate social
       Whatever the category of an object, what it   immediate social relevance—meaning that the   justification of one's work is an uncomfortable
       actually is physically, how it is designed, how   content of sculptures was more influential in   position, one which many talents find in-
      it is made and the materials used, is relevant   determining the conduct of a large number of   tolerable. The modification of one's creative
       to how it is thought about and how it is used.   persons—sculptors would have more power to   endeavour to comply with or specifically re-
       What happens to an object, its life in the world,   determine the kind of social change which   ject the current romantic myths is ultimately
      is primarily determined by what, in a total   was currently taking place. The ultimate con-  the death of that endeavour. This is by no
      sense, it is. Sculptures are different in this   sequence of such a development would be to   means something which I suspect contempo-
      respect. An object classified as a sculpture   produce sculptors and sculpture of a more   rary sculptors (or painters) are ignorant of.
      thereby relinquishes much of its objecthood   conservative nature. The more -immediate   Some may, however, be more ignorant of
      in terms of self-determination.           power any organ of a society has, the more   their own needs in respect of these myths than
      What happens to a sculpture is determined   concerned it is with the stability of that society.   they suspect. It is certain that, on the whole,
      largely by factors outside of itself. The fact of   I do not, of course, mean that all today's   they tend to believe they will avoid being
      its being thought of as sculpture is more criti-  sculptors would necessarily suddenly become   influenced by external pressures of any kind
      cal to its existence, its life, than any other   more conservative. I mean that, in such a   insofar as they manage to be inattentive
      facts about it. This is a fundamental distinc-  situation, the people to whom the life of a   towards them.
      tion between objects and sculpture. It has   sculptor appealed would be of a different   Sculptors are by no means, even in an ideal
      nothing to do with the physical nature of   temperament. It would be a different life.   situation, the sole arbiters of the content of
      either.                                   One further consequence of such a situation   their work. Any work of art is defined through
      Sculpture has been made to fill a great variety   may be relevant: that in it the life of a sculp-  the cultural situation in which it exists. In a
      of roles. It has been made in response to a   ture, what happened to it, would be deter-  sense, the meaning which it has is literally
      greatly varied range of personal and social   mined more by its content, by the potential   given to it or acquired by it through an
      motivation. It has, after all, played some   experiences it embodied, than by any other   existence in people's minds. By virtue of its
      part in the development of most of the world's   factor. I need not pursue the further implica-  objective physical existence in the world,
      cultures. It has been closely associated with   tions of this hypothetical state of affairs,   sculpture is more susceptible to certain types
      the declaration and the reinforcement of   except to note that there is a growing anxiety   of misuse than other art forms. The sculptor's
      beliefs, not always excluding beliefs in per-  amongst an increasing number of artists that   present great freedom is to make his work in
      sonal or group superiority. It has been used   their work have some direct and observable   whatever form he pleases. He has not, as yet,
      to frighten and intimidate as well as to en-  effect on other people's behaviour. There is   except privately for himself, gained any new
      lighten and delight. Never before, however,   an increasing interest and involvement, for   comparable freedom to participate in the
      has the specific nature and form of a sculpture   example, in that kind of phenomenon which   creation of new concepts of reality.
      been of so little consequence in determining    asks from its 'audience' a response in terms of                 GARTH EVANS
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