Following is a group of readings focused on modern sculpture, which I would propose examining in order to assess how sculpture has been defined as a medium in the 20th century. I am interested in how these authors suggest sculptural “spirits,” often meant to imply universal standards while also rooted in the particular historical (and western) issues at play for modernist sculpture. Thus, Raymond Williams’ essay is useful to remind us that artistic mediums are always more than formalist definitions, encompassing social and professional practices. Several of the readings date from the 1960s and 70s, when sculpture became a contested term and field, and I find it fitting that these source tackle both contemporaneous production (like Michael Fried) and early 20th century sculpture (like William Tucker)—often in the same book, such as Rosalind Krauss’ seminal Passages in Modern Sculpture. I have taken one traditional artistic medium as my case study in order to investigate how such an art historical tradition might relate to, and find a place in, the broader field of media theory. In other words, I am building up a definition of the medium of sculpture; the next step would be to test the applicability of media theory back to sculpture, watching for the blind spots created in the process.
Burnham, Jack. Beyond Modern Sculpture: The Effects of Science and Technology on the Sculpture of this Century. New York: Braziller, 1968.
Fried, Michael. "Art and Objecthood." In Art and Objecthood: Essays and Reviews. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1998.
Greenberg, Clement. "Towards a Newer Laocoon." In Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism. Perceptions and Judgments, 1939-44. Ed. John O'Brian. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1986.
Heidegger, Martin. "Art and Space." In Man and World I , trans. Charles Seibert. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.
Krauss, Rosalind E. "Sculpture in the Expanded Field." October 8 (Spring 1979). Reprinted in The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985.
---. Passages in Modern Sculpture. Cambridge MA: MIT Press, 1977.
Mitchell, W. J. T. "What Sculpture Wants: Placing Antony Gormley." In Antony Gormley, by John Hutchinson, E. H. Gombrich, Lela B. Njatin, and W. J. T. Mitchell. London: Phaidon, 2000.
Potts, Alex. The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist. New Haven: Yale UP, 2000.
Tucker, William. The Language of Sculpture. London: Thames and Hudson, 1974.
Williams, Raymond. "From Medium to Social Practice." In Marxism and Literature. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977.
Wittkower, Rudolf. Sculpture: Processes and Principles. New York: Harper & Row, 1977.