The Encrypted Object: The SecretWorld of Sixties Sculpture
Joanne Louise Applin University College London PhD
This thesis examines the work of artists Lucas Samaras,Lee Bontecou and HC Westermann, specifically the way in which they have been excluded from dominant accounts of 1960s sculptural practice. I explore the ways in which a theory of 'secrecy' provides a framework through which to think about each of these artists. Chapter one focuses on Samaras's use of small-scale boxes in relation to his dialogue with the Minimal cubic structure, whilst the second chapter examines the structures of Bontecou in terms of their 'secrecy'. Working from welded steel armatures,Bontecou developed a unique practice of stretching dirty, worn skeins of fabric over the metal structure, always with a gaping hole backed with black felt, a disturbing void (MA around which the surface is organisedand the spectatorial encounter disturbed. Unlike the voracious mode of looking Bontecou's works engender,or the partial, fragmented 'peering' offered by Samaras'sboxes, Westermann's works require a type of looking that has more in common with the physical act of 'drifting'.
both the viewing experience and the mode of construction Westermann's works demand, in terms of 'bricolage' and 'braconnage' (or 'poaching).
concluding chapter analyses the role of the artistic homage and notion of influence, taking as model the work of psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok on haunting and secrecy in relation to the work of Westermann alongside that of Bruce Nauman and Rachel Whiteread.
In chapter four I
introduce the idea of the 'phantom, as a way of thinking through the problems of inheritance at work in the artistic homage in terms of a series of ruptures, using Abraham and Toroks' concept of the 'transgenerational phantom', in which familial secretsare unwittingly inherited by one's ancestors. In this final chapter, I attempt to undermine the usual way in which influence and artistic lineage are understood.
CONTENTS Volume One Title Page:
List of Illustrations:
Introduction: The Secret World of SLxties Sculpture
Chapter one: 'Materialized Secrets:Lucas Samarasand Small-Scale Boxes
Chapter two: Topographies of the void, or Lee Bontecou's Unspecified Objects p. 82
Chapter three: Bric-a-Brac: The Objects of H. C Westermann
Chapter four: HauntinglHomage:
Bruce Nauman and the
Case of Westermann's Ear
Volume Two Title Page
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS To all the staff in the History of Art department at University College, London, I owe a real debt, for their interest, encouragement and commitment to undergraduateteaching that resulted in my returning there to researchmy Phl). In particular, Briony Fer, Charles Ford, Tamar Garb, Tom Gretton, Andrew Hemingway, Joy Sleeman and Helen Weston, each of whose teaching, have been and are, crucial to my work. Thank you and comments encouragement to the AHRB for funding both my graduate and post-graduateresearch,and to the University College London Graduate School for funding a research trip to New York. For my Masters degree at Essex University, thanks to Dawn Ades and Neil Cox. A special thanks to Margaret Iversen at Essex, supervisor of my thesis on Eva Hesse and Kleinian theory.
Her teaching, comments, commitment and
for have been inspiration a constant source of my own work. enthusiasm
To my oldest, dearestfriends who I grew up with in Colchester,thanks for friendship,moaningsessions,confidence-boosting emails, and far too many late nights when I should have been writing this thesis. Other friends at UCL and elsewhere,whoseconversation,friendshipsandhelp havebeenso importantover the years,althoughthey may not know it are,SimonBaker,Andrew Brown, Chris Campbell, Warren Carter, Richard Clay, Paula Feldman,Mark Godfrey, Nick Grindle, Glenn Harvey, Rhiannon Heaton, Chris Mattingly, Jamie Mulherron, HannahRobinson,RachelSanders,Isla Simpson,and Izzie Whitelegg. Thanks friendship for her Anna Lovatt, to and support,and for finding me continued also the perfect quote to open this thesis.
Researchtrips to New York and Chicago were invaluable to my research, and I thank Halley K. Harrisburg at Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York; Jill Weinberg-Adams at Lennon, Weinberg, Inc., New York, for access to her archives and anecdotes about Westermann and Peter Boris at PaceWildenstein Galleries. Thanks also to Michael Rooks, assistantcurator at Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art, and Elizabeth T. Smith, James W. Alsdorf Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, for all her help and continued
Hilda Thanks Lee Bontecou. to of work conversation about, and support, my on Buchbinder in Chicago and Allan Frumkin in New York for talking with me and Thanks Westermann to to their works. collections of private allowing me access Lucas Samarasfor a truly fantastic afternoon in New York and Lee Bontecou for her written correspondenceand support.
Thank you to my panel on 'Disappearance' at 2003 AAH conference, whose Bontecou, helped Lee on sharpen my argument comments and suggestions Alex May, Gavin Parkinson, Margaret Iversen, Marianne Garb, Tamar especially, Potts and Gill Perry. My thanks go to the two fellow PhD studentsI have shared this thesis with since the beginning. Firstly, thanks to Harriet Riches, a true friend from day one, lonely fun. have been less And daily the would so much and grind whom without knows Taws, Richard to who why. secondly,
My supervisor, Briony Fer, knows how much I owe her for all the time, has inspiration that she given me over the years. and conversation encouragement, Without her, this thesiswould not havebeenwhat it is, andI owe her my deepest thanks. Finally thanks to my family. For their continued, unswerving, often undeserving father, Peter Applin, Marion, Karen late to thanks my mum, my sister my support, and my twin sister Lisa.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
Chapter one 'Materialized Secrets': Lucas Samaras and Small-Scale Boxes 1.1 1.2 1.3
1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 1.10 1.11 1.12
1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20
Lucas Samaras, Box No. 48,1966, mixed media, 11 x 9.25 x 14.5in (closed), Private collection, New York Lucas Samaras, Untitled, 1961, Liquid aluminium, Sculpmetal, and 24 18 6in. Collection x safety pin, x of the artist straightened Photograph of Donald Judd's apartment at 101 Spring Street, New York, fifth floor, view of bedroom with works by John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Lucas Samaras,bed by Donald Judd Photograph of Donald Judd's apartment at 101 Spring Street, New York, fifth floor (Detail), view of bedroom with works by John Chamberlain, Dan Flavin, Donald Judd and Lucas Samaras,bed by Donald Judd Carl Andre, Eight Cuts, 1967, bricks, photographed at Dwan Gallery, Los Angeles, 1967, Hallen fUr Neue Kunst, Schaffhausen,Switzerland Lucas Samaras, Floor Piece (in sixteen parts), 1961, Sculpmetal, 48 x 48in. Collection of the artist Lucas Samaras, Untitled (Shoe Box), 1965, wood, wool, yam, shoe, pins, cotton, paint, 10.5 x 15.5 x1 lin. The Saatchi Collection Lucas Samaras,Box No. 8,1963, mixed media, 11 x 15 x 8in (closed), Private collection, New York Lucas Samaras, Untitled (face box), 1963, wood, photographs, pins, and wool, 10.5 x 15 x 18.5in. Private collection, Los Angeles Andr6 Breton, Page-Object, 1934, wooden box, glass eyes, bait, 3x4x 3in. Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Modema, Rome Marcel Duchamp, Botte-en-valise, 1935-41; 1941 version, 15 x 14 x 3in. Philadelphia Museum of Modem Art JasperJohns, In Memory of My Feelings-Frank OHara, 1961-70, wood, lead, brass, rubber, sand and Sculpmetal, 6.25 x 19 x6x 13in. Collection of the artist Robert Morris, Box with the Sound of its Own Making, 1961, wood, tape 9in. Seattle Art Museum 9x9x cassette, and recorder Marcel Duchamp, With Hidden Noise, 1916, ball of twine in brass frame, Height: 12in. Philadelphia Museum of Modem Art Lucas Samaras,Box No. 3,1963, wood, pins, rope and stuffed bird, 24.5 x 11.5 x 10.5in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York Lucas Samaras,Cornell Size,Arts Magazine, May, 1967, p. 46 Mel Bochner, Wrap: Portrait of Eva Hesse, 1966, pen and ink on graph paper, Diameter: 4in. Private collection Lucas Samaras, Paper Bag No. 3,1962, paper bag with paintings and scratchedmirror, 31 x 22 x 9in. Collection of the artist Lucas Samaras,Room No.2, wood and mirror, 8x 10 x 8ft. Albright-Knox Gallery, Buffalo Lucas Samaras, Room No.1,1964, mixed media, 10 x 15 x 17.5ft. Destroyed
1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27
1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32
Eva Hesse,Inside 1,1967, painted papier-mach6 over wood and twine, 12 x 12 x 12in. The Estate of Eva Hesse Eva Hesse,Inside 11,1967, painted papier-mache over wood and weights, 5x7x 7in. The Estate of Eva Hesse Eva Hesse,Accession H, 1967/69, galvanised steel with plastic tubing, 31 x 31 x 31in. Detroit Institute of Arts Lucas Samaras,Box No. 11,1963, mixed media, 10 x 13 x Sin. Private collection, Virginia Lucas Samaras, Untitled (small box), 1960, wood, plastered crepe paper and feathers, 11 x6x 7in. Collection of the artist Lucas Samaras, Untitled, 1960, wood and plastered cloth, 9x 11 x Sin. Collection of the artist Eva Hesse, Laocoon, 1966, acrylic paint, cloth-covered cord, wire, and papier-mache over plastic pipe, 120 x 24 x 24in. Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin, Ohio Lucas Samaras,Untitled, c. 1954, pencil on paper, 3x4.5in. Collection of the artist Eva Hesse,Accession, 1967, watercolour, metallic gouache, and pencil on paper, 11.5 x 16in. The Estate of Eva Hesse Eva Hesse, Accession, 1968, watercolour, gouache and pencil, 16 x 11.25in. Tony and Gail Ganz, Los Angeles Lucas Samaras,Dinner No. 4 and Box No. 4,1963, mixed media, 10.5 x 14 x 10.5 in. Private collection, Chicago Lucas Samaras, Sketch for Boxes, 1966, ink on paper, 14 x 17in. Collection of the artist
Chapter two Topographies of the void, or Lee Bontecou's Unspecified Objects 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 2.10
Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1959, welded steel, wire and cloth, 59 x 59 x l8in. Museum of Modem Art, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1958-59, steel, canvas, and velvet, 13 x 13.5, 12in. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1957-58, soot on paper, 27.5 x 39in. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1958-59, steel, muslin, silk, brass, screen wire, 4 x4x 4in. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1958-59, mixed media. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1958-59, mixed media. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1966, welded metal and canvas,55 x 66.5 x 8.5in. New School for Social Research,New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled (Detail), 1966, welded metal and canvas,55 x 66.5 x 8.5in. New School for Social Research,New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled (Detail), 1966, welded metal and canvas,55 x 66.5 x 8.5in. New School for Social Research,New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled, c. 1962, canvas, blue jeans, wire, welded metal, 20.5 x 60 x 8.5in. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York
2.12 2.13 2.14
2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18
2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 2.25 2.26 2.27 2.28 2.29 2.30 2.31 2.32 2.33 2.34
Photograph of Lee Bontecou at work, taken from the cover of the Germany, Leverkusen, for her Stadtisches Museum, the show at catalogue 1968 Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960, steel, canvas, cloth, and wire, 6ft x 56 x 20in. Private Collection, New York John Chamberlain, Essex, 1960, painted metal, 9ft x 7ft 6in. Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Bruce Conner, The Child, 1959-60, wax figure with nylon, cloth, metal, Modem Art, 34.5 16.5in. Museum in high 17 twine of a chair, x x and New York Harold Paris, Elder, 1960, bronze, 33 x 18 x 20in. Location unknown Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1966, painted iron, 73 x 88 x 9in. Guggenheim Museum, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled (Detail), 1966, painted iron, 73 x 88 x 9in. Guggenheim Museum, New York Lee Bontecou, 1964, plexiglass turret and mixed media, 72 x 264in, installed in the lobby of the New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, New York, and 1964, colour reproduction Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1966, mixed mediums, 78.5 x 119 x 31 in. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1960, welded metal and canvas, 9.5 x8x 4in. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled (aviator), 1961, graphite on paper, 22.5 x 28.5in. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery Lee Bontecou, Untitled, early 1960s, steel, 16.5 x 12 x 4in. Collection of the artist Lee Bontecou, Designsfor Sculpture, 1964, graphite on paper, 28 x 20in. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1964, graphite and soot on linen, 16 x 16in. Michael Rosenfeld Gallery, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled, lithograph, frontispiece for StddtischesMuseum, Leverkusen, Germany, 1968 Eva Hesse, Untitled, 1960, watercolour, ink, and felt-tip pen on paper, 4.5 x 6in. National Gallery of Art, Washington Eva Hesse,Hang- Up, 1966, acrylic paint on cloth over wood; acrylic paint The Art Institute Chicago 84 78in. 72 tube, of x x on cord over steel Lucio Fontana, Concetto spaziale, 1963, oil on canvas, 146 x 114cm. Private collection, Venice Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1961, welded steel, wire, canvas, 80.25 x 89 x 35in. Museum of Modem Art, New York Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1961, iron, welded steel, copper wire, canvas, Center, Minneapolis fabric, Art 56 Walker 40 21.5in. velvet x x Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1961, canvas and steel, 72 x 66.25 x 26in. Whitney Museum of Modem Art, New York Roman Holiday, film still with Audrey Hepburn, directed by William Wyler, 1953 Roman Holiday, film still with Gregory Peck, directed by William Wyler, 1953 Lee Bontecou, installation shot, Leo Castelli Gallery, 1960
'Tuyeres? Non, sculpture... ' photograph of Documenta 3, Kassel, Germany, 1964
Chapter three Bric-a-Brac: The Objects of H. C.Westermann 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5
H. C. Westermann, Korea, 1965, pine, glass, rope, brass, and found York New 9in. Private 17 34.5 collection, x x objects, H. C. Westermann, Secrets, 1964, American walnut, brass, 7x 11 x 8.5in. San Francisco Museum of Modem Art George Bloom, Think of me Kindly, one of a twelve boxes, 1894, hardwoods, glass, 5x9x 6in. Private collection H. C Westermann, Cliff Made of Tools, 1958, ink on paper, 10 x 7in. Collection of JoannaBeall Westermann H. C. Westermann, Mysteriously Abandoned New Home, 1958, pine, birch, 51 The Art 25 25in. x x and wheels, glass, paint, vermilion, redwood, Institute of Chicago H. C Westermann, Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum, 1958, Douglas fir doll brass die-cast tar, cast-lead and glass, antique enamel, plywood, pine, head, metal, brass, mirror, and paper decoupage,48 x 29 x 28in. Private collection, San Francisco H. C. Westermann, Untitled (oil can), 1962, pine, hemp rope, galvanised 14 12.25in. 22.25 and metal, x x sheet metal, aluminium alkyd enamel, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York H. C. Westermann, Evil New War God (S.O.B), 1958, partially chromiumNew American Art, Museum 11in. Whitney 9.5 17 brass, of x x plated York H. C. Westermann, Angry Young Machine, 1959, pine, plywood, faucet handle, fittings, iron cast-lead soldier, and pipe galvanised 28in. The Institute 90 27 Art of x x wheels, and enamel, aluminium alkyd Chicago H. C. Westermann,Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea (open), 1958, pine, bottle caps, cast-tin toys, glass, metal, brass, ebony, and Contemporary Art, Chicago Museum 14.5in. 38 56.5 of x x enamel, H. C. Westermann, Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea (closed), 1958, pine, bottle caps, cast-tin toys, glass, metal, brass, ebony, Chicago Contemporary Art, Museum 38 14.5in. 56.5 of x x and enamel, H. C. Westermann, Brinkmanship, 1959, plywood, electroplated metal, bottle cap, and string, 23.25 x 24 x 20in. 11irschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution H. C. Westermann, The Pillar of Truth, 1962, red oak, pine, walnut, 8in. Allan Frumkin, 7.5 25 x x enamel, cast aluminium, and metal spring, Inc. H. C. Westermann, Trophyfor a Gasoline Apollo, 1961, wood, hydrostone,
6.25in. Private 8.5 33 bumpers, collection x x enamel,andplastic 3.15 Ed Ruscha,study for Bloated Empire, 1997,#1, acrylic on canvasboard, Collectionof the artist 3.16 H.C. Westermann,Walnut Box, 1964, walnut, walnuts, plate glass,and brasschain, 11x 14 xII in. Privatecollection,Chicago 9
3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21
H. C. Westermann, The Rope Tree, 1964, laminated plywood. Private collection. H. C. Westermann, A Positive Thought, 1962, Douglas fir, iron pipe, and metal bolts, 30 x 12.5 x 12in. Private collection, New York H. C. Westermann, Untitled (question mark), 1962, plywood and enamel, 40 x 23 x 23in. Private collection, Chicago William T. Wiley, Enigma Shield, date unknown, plywood, contact paper. Collection of the artist H. C. Westermann, Death Ship of No Port, 1957, pine, canvas, bronze, wire, and paint, 24.25 x 30.5 x 4in. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago H. C. Westermann, Untitled, 1965, fir plywood, ash, plate glass, ebony, photograph, paper decoupage,silk flowers, rubber bumpers, and ink, 28 x 20 x 10in. Private collection, New York H. C. Westermann,Dismasted Ship, 1956, walnut and bronze, 8x 22 x 4in. Private collection, Illinois H. C. Westermann, U.S.S. Franklin Arising from an Oil Slick Sea, 1976, pine, enamel, ebony, grandilo and brass, 10.5 x 33 x 7.25in. Present whereaboutsunknown H. C. Westermann, Death Ship Runover by a '66 Lincoln Continental, 1966, pine, plate glass, ebony, U. S. dollars, putty, brass, and ink. Private collection, Los Angeles H. C. Westermann, The Dead Young Sailor-1945, ink and watercolour on With letter 9in. 8x to Thomas N. Armstrong, III, dated May 3rd, paper, 1978, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York H. C. Westermann, A Piece from the Museum of Shattered Dreams, 1965, cedar, pine, ebony, rope and twine, 29.5 x 25 x 15.5in. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis H. C. Westermann, Antimobile, 1965, Douglas-fir marine plywood, metal, and bicycle pedal, 68 x 35.5 x 27.5in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York H. C. Westermann,About a Black Magic Marker, 1959-60, imitation wood grain, with miscellaneous objects, 72 x 42in. Private collection, New York
Chapter four Haunting/Homage: Bruce Nauman and the Case of Westermann's Ear 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6
Peter Blake, album cover, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, 1967 H. C. Westen-nannwith The Big Change, 1963, photograph taken by Lester Beall, Snr. Studio shot taken on the set of Peter Blake's staging of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band (Detail), 1967 Robert Arneson, H. C. Westermann from Five Famous Guys Series, 1983, woodblock print, 30 x 22in. Estate of Robert Arneson Robert Arneson, Head Stand on a Cliff, 1985, wood and concrete, 111 x 21in. Estate of Robert Arneson Bruce Nauman, Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists, 1966, fibreglass, 7ft x3x l6in. The Saatchi Collection
4.9 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21
4.22 4.23 4.24
Bruce Nauman, Untitled (After Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists), 1967, ink on paper, 19 x 24in. Oeffentliche Kuntsamm1ung,Basel Man Ray, The Riddle, or 7'he Enigma of Isadore Ducasse, 1920, replica 1970, sewing machine, wood, fabric, card, 38 x 55 x 24cm. Private collection Bruce Nauman, Large Knot Becoming an Ear (Knot Hearing Well), 1967, pencil on paper, 35 x 28in. 0effentliche Kuntsammlung, Basel H. C. Westermann, The Big Change, 1963, laminated plywood, 56 x 12 x 12in. Private collection, New York Bruce Nauman, Westermann's Ear, 1967, plaster and rope, 8ft 6in x 6in. Museum Ludwig, Cologne, West Gennany Bruce Nauman, Square Knot (H. C. Westermann),1967, charcoal on paper, 27 x 27in. Private collection, Geneva Bruce Nauman, Untitled (Square Knot), 1967, charcoal and watercolour on paper, 27.5 x 30in. Private collection, New York Bruce Nauman, Untitled, 1967, rope and wax over plaster, 17 x 26 x 4.5in. Private collection, Zurich Constantin Brancusi, Symbol of James Joyce, 1957, ink on paper, 35 x 28cm. Pompidou Centre, Paris Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, photographed April 1970,1500ft long and 15ft wide. Rozel Point, Great Salt Lake, Utah Lucas Samaras,Box No. 15 (the L Box) (Detail), 1964, mixed mediums, 17 x 25 x 11.25in. The Aldrich Museum of American Art H. C. Westermann, Imitation Knotty Pine, 1966, pine, knotty pine, and brass, 12.5 x 21 x 13in. Private collection, Honolulu Bruce Nauman, Knot an Ear, 1967, wax and rope, 2x6x. 4in. Private collection Bruce Nauman, From Hand to Mouth, 1967, wax over cloth, 30 x 10 x 4in. Private collection, New York Bruce Nauman, Letter to Bill Allan: Three Well-Known Knots (Square Knot, bowline, and Clove Hitch), 1967, photographs mounted on paper. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D. C. Bruce Nauman, Bound to Fail, 1967, photograph. Leo Castelli Gallery, New York Bruce Nauman, study for Henry Moore Trap, 1966-67, crayon and acrylic on paper, 42 x 33in. Presentlocation unknown Bruce Nauman, Seated Storage Capsule (for H.M), 1966, pastel and acrylic on paper, 42 x 36in. Collection Elizabeth and Michael Rea, New York Bruce Nauman, Seated Storage Capsule for H.M. Made of Metallic Plastic, 1966, pencil and crayon on paper, 40 x 35in, Hallen flir neue Kunst, Schaffhausen,Switzerland Bruce Nauman, Light Trap for Henry Moore, No.], 1967, black and white photograph, 67 x 40in., present location unknown, and Light Trap for Henry Moore, No.2,1967, black and white photograph, 67 x 40in. Hallen ffir neue Kunst, Schaffhausen,Switzerland Henry Moore. Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object, 1942,432 x 559cm Bruce Nauman, Henry Moore Bound to Fail, 1967 (cast 1970), 25.5 x 24 X 2.5in, from an edition of nine, cast iron
4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34
Bruce Nauman, A Cast of the Space Under My Chair, 1966-68, concrete, 17.5 x 15 x 15in. Private collection Rachel Whiteread, Table and Chair (Clear), 1994, rubber, 686 x 1016 x 749cm. Private collection Rachel Whiteread, Ear, 1986, wax, location unknown Installation shot, Bruce Nauman show at Leo Castelli Gallery, New York, 1968 Rachel Whiteread, Untitled (Shovel), 1986-87, plaster, location unknown Marcel Duchamp, In Advance of the Broken Ann, 1915, original lost; 1945 version, readymade, wood and galvanised-iron snow shovel, Yale University Art Gallery H. C. Westermann, 30 Dust Pans, plywood, oak, various woods, galvanised sheet metal, and brass, 46 x 45 x 33in. Various collections, United States H. C. Westermann,Hard of Hearing Object, 1961, wood, aluminiurn alkyd enamel, galvanised sheet metal, metal screen, and steel bolt with nut, 24.5 x 12.25 x 13in. Allan Frumkin, Inc.
INTRODUCTION The Encrypted Object: The Secret World of Sixties Sculpture In an interview describing sculptural practice in the sixties, Mel Bochner pointed to the undoubted effect of Sol LeWitt, Robert Morris and Carl Andre on Eva Hesse's work at the time, at the sametime highlighting the less tangible echoesof other artists also identifiable in her work, artists 'who aren't discussed much ' anymore'. Citing both Lucas Samarasand Lee Bontecou, alongside other artists Oyvind Fahlstr6m, Hesse's Thek Bochner Paul to and was pointing as such engagementwith the current art scene as well as connecting her to a strand of sculptural practice that has since been lost from accounts of that moment. Rather than simply being an artist of her time, Bochner said of Hesse's work
It may go even further than that. I always felt there was something 'haunted' about her work. Maybe it's haunted by all 2 'contexts' lost 1960s. those of the
It is to thesehaunting'lost contexts' that this thesisreturns. Recentscholarship hassituatedHesse'swork within a morenuancedcontextthan eitherMinimalism or Post-minimalismallow for, and has done much to pave the way for my own studyin which questionsof subjectivityandthe spectatorialencounterarecrucial. However, it is those artists so often cited parenthetically,or footnoted,in the literature from the time, and often, in those texts on Hesse,that the following study focuses. Conventionally,suchconnectionshavebeenunderstoodin terms of 'influence' but I want to retain Bochner's term 'haunting' in order to complicatethis somewhat.LucasSamaras,Lee Bontecouand H.C. Westermann are three artists who, althoughstemmingfrom very different milieus, are each is It haunting 'lost' the various the those examples period. pertinent of artists ways in which their work is clearly a part of their moment, yet also seeksto disruptit, that the following four chaptersexplore.
1 Mel Bochner, as quoted in 'About Eva Hesse: Mel Bochner Interviewed by Joan Simon', in Mignon Nixon, ed., Eva Hesse,Cambridge, MA, 2002, p. 44. 2 Ibid.
It was my earlier work on Eva Hesse that initially drew me to these other artists that 'haunt' her work and, more widely, that moment of sculptural production of the early to mid sixties that took as its prevailing aesthetic the structural, geometric, and pared-down object. Hesse is referred to at several points in the following chapters, as her own engagement with both a Minimal and Postminimal aesthetic articulates exactly the uneasy fault-lines that concern me. This thesis remains focused on predominantly East coast-basedpractice, particularly the way in which it engaged with, refused, or complicated dominant models of sculptural practice at the time, but I shall also consider some West coast practices in relation to these issues,specifically the work of Bruce Nauman.
Both Samarasand Bontecou worked exclusively in New York during the period under examination in this thesis. Sarnaraswas a Greek immigrant living in New York with his family, where he started (and never finished) a MIFA at Rutgers University, New Jersey, after which he moved to the city where he continues to work, extremely privately, today. Samaras's work has typically been squashed lineage Assemblage, Neo-Dada Surrealism, into of a awkwardly and Pop, with an obligatory nod toward his Greek origins that provides an overtly neat narrative of Byzantine relic boxes and the memento mori Working in both two and three.3 dimensions, he is best known for his elaborately decorated and crammed boxes. His use of knives, steel pins and shards of fragmented mirror in the covering and filling of these works has lead to speculations on the hazardous, violent and masochistic tendency of his boxes, an overemphasiswhich seemto have ruled out the possibility of touch that the tactile, sensuousmateriality of the surfacesinvites. Notions of the outmoded, the kitsch and the camp all reverberate through his sculptural objects in ways that seem to mask rather than account for, envelop
3 See Ben Lifson, Samaras: The Photographs Lucas Samaras, New York, 1987, for a partial of and exclusive account of Samara's photography that focuses only on the nature of autobiography, and representationsof his 'self, ' or Martin Friedman, 'The ObsessiveImages of Lucas Samaras's, Art and Artists, vol. 1, no. 8, November 1966, which analysesthe work of Samarasin terms of a fascination with death, ceremony and ritual that Friedman considers in terms of an obsessive interest in Byzantine culture. Germano Celant, in the introduction to Lucas Samaras: Boxes and Mirrored Cell, New York: Pace Gallery, 1988, also reverts to a language of 'mysticism, ' the 'transformation' of the banal to the reliquary, in terms of a 'transfiguration' at play, all of which clearly derive from a desire to read Samaras's work in terms of its 'otherness,' or to treat Samaras as 'foreign, ' and 'exotic'.
rather than reveal, the strategies of displacement and concealment these boxes
ultimatelyembody. Bontecou graduatedfrom the Art Student's League, New York City in 1956, and lived in the city until the early seventies,when she moved to Pennsylvania where she continues to work in isolation today. Bontecou was extremely successful during the early to mid sixties. Showing with the Leo Castelli Gallery alongside Donald Judd and Frank Stella, she received several public commissions for her large scale, wall-mounted reliefs.
Working from welded steel armatures,
Bontecou developed a unique practice of stretching dirty, worn skeins of fabric over the metal structure, always with a gaping hole backed with black felt, a disturbing void @V around which the surface is organised and the spectatorial encounter disturbed. H. C. Westermann, on the other hand, grew up in Los Angeles, and returned to the West coast in 1964, where he taught and worked in San Francisco for one year. Already established as an artist by the early sixties, Westermann was older than both Samaras and Bontecou, and had already served as a Marine in two wars before beginning his art training at the Art Institute of Chicago 1952 on the popular GI Bill, where he had already undertaken a course in advertising prior to 4 for Korean the war. Westermanneventually settled in Connecticut with enlisting his wife, where they worked well away from the art worlds of both New York and California, in the house and studio Westermann spent the last ten years of his life constructing. Despite his popularity outside of New York, Westermannwas never able to shake off his label of 'outsider' or 'provincial' artist, and he has been claimed by both Chicago California and as their own. respectively
brightly painted figurative objects, wooden tableaux-filled vitrines, carpentered, and oddly disturbing series of wooden houses, received a rather more mixed 4 TheServicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944,or the 'GI Bill' asit wasknownwasintroduced to adjuston their returnfrom afterthe SecondWorld War. It wasgivento returningveterans fundsto enablethemto buy homesand military service,providingstipendsand subsistence businesses, receivetraining,andespeciallyeducation.TheGI Bill providedtuitionfees,living equipment andbooksfor thosereturningto college. ArtistsLeonGolubandClaes expenses, fromtheGI Bill andwentto artcollegein Chicagoafterthewar. Oldenburg alsobenefited
New York, in where they were viewed as too garish, anachronistic and reception at odds with contemporary sculptural practice. Westermann carved a series of 'death ships' which he repeatedthroughout his career in various woods, which he boxes, beautifully in carpentered welded in metal and coated in tar, would encase or dipped in oil paints.
Bruce Nauman is another artist whose work has proved consistently difficult to place. His working practice spans a wide range, from performance to video, it is although a small group of works referencing pieces, sculpture and sound Westermann and, interestingly, Henry Moore, 'completed the year he graduated from his MFA in California, that I shall look at. Often classed as an 'anti', or his insistence body 'Post-minimal' the artist, with on and use of often, more Nauman looked fellow Californian to the work of materials, radical, unusual Westermann, to whom William T. Wiley had the of work artists as well as introduced Nauman whilst the latter was still a student. Nauman's 'Westermann' in includes tied a plaster ear, up rope, a rubber cast of a crossed works of series knot, looped through a as well as a number of sketches and again pair of arms, In I lesserthis that this ear. chapter, suggest small, plaster smaller another, known group of post-college works by Nauman, bear a striking resemblanceto the late college work of British contemporary sculptor Rachel Whiteread, who Thinking in the the about cast of an ear. prominence a small of ear also produced these works, I begin to ask questions about ways in which ideas and working be 'heard', how down 'silenced' be they to, or might passed or are strategies inherited by, other artists. As I began to revisit the earliest texts and exhibition catalogues on post-war American sculptural practice in the initial stages of researching Samaras, Bontecou, Westermann, and Nauman, it becameclear that the sixties by no means belonged exclusively to Minimalism and Post-minimalism or Pop, and, although this is an areathat has been addressed,and to an extent recuperatedin more recent in disconcerting the seemingly wholesale there something remains writing, repression of entire strands (or, rather, loose ends) of sculptural practice that were
5 My point is not merely to reclaim a place for these so prevalent at the time. artists within art history, or insert them back into an existing narrative, but to explore the strategies of resistance that Samaras, Bontecou and Westermann employ in their work, a resistance, or 'encryption', both invokes and embodies.
as I will argue, that their work
In the final chapter I focus on the work of Bruce
Nauman in relation to a series of 'homages' he made to Westermann and Henry Moore.
The idea of homage has, surprisingly perhaps, proved incredibly fruitful
in thinking about how trajectories of 'influence'
might be complicated through a
notion of haunting. This allows a more fluid, less cohesive system of connection and inheritance that might account for certain discrepancies and ruptures in sculptural practice during this period, which I understand here as a series of generational 'cuts' that sever the traditional patriarchal, Oedipal, even, lineage of tradition and inheritance that 'homage' might suggest. Each of the artists focused on in the following
chapters were either involved in creating homages to other
artists, whether wittingly
or not, or else they were the subject of another's
homage, setting in play complex relationships of acknowledgment,
and inheritance between artists.
Returning to early surveys on sculpture from the 1960sonward we seethe roots of my investigation already set in place. The situation of sculpture was far from fixed at the time, as the array of books and articles published (and the bewildering assortmentof chapter headings and thematic groupings within them) demonstrate. 5 In Alex Potts The Sculptural Imagination, New Haven and London, 2000, Potts goes some way to redressing the balance with his fine discussion of the work of Bontecou, which I address in detail later on. Richard J. Williams's recent book, After Modem Sculpture, Art in the United Statesand Europe 1965-70, Manchester University Press,2000, published the same year as Potts' work, also focuses on more marginalised artists and exhibitions For example, in chapter three he discussesLucy Lippard's 'Eccentric Abstraction' show in some detail. Williams's project begins in 1965, therefore only spanning part of the period my own less inclusive study focuseson. In his book Williams spends as much time on contemporary texts on sculpture as he does the objects, claiming that in his book 'they are not treated as supplementsto the sculpture. In many ways they are the sculpture'. (p. 3.) Although comprehensive and ambitious in scope, Williams's emphasis on the writings published in the art press, as well as his treatment of psychoanalytic texts such as Ehrenzweig's 71teHidden Order ofArt and several of Freud's writings differs from my own. My claim is that it is not in the articles, reviews and exhibition catalogues from the time that the objects are somehow discovered (or even 'made', as Williams seems to be claiming), but the opposite; it is the ways in which these objects exceed, refuse, and dissolve, even, in the face of those accountsthat renders the work under discussion in the following chaptersso compelling.
Looking at Donald Judd's Specific Objects survey article in 1965, Jack Burnham's Beyond Modem
The Effects of Science and Technology
Sculpture of This Century, which addressed the since-lost strand of work involved 6 kineticism (1968), Udo Kultermann's The New Sculpture:
with technology and
Environments and Assemblage (1968), Albert E. Elsen's Origins of Modem Sculpture: pioneers and premises (1974), and Maurice Tuchman's American Sculpture of the Sixties catalogue from 1967, it is clear that the parameters of contemporary sculptural practice were then incredibly elastic. Samaras,Bontecou in books, Westermann these often with Samaras and appeared most of and Westermann bracketed together as contemporary box makers, or 'surrealists', least, forgotten John Chamberlain or, at artists such as neglected other alongside and Paul Thek. One need only turn to Gregory Battcock's Minimal art: a critical anthology, first 'lost' in 1968, to see certain since artists sitting alongside the published images, in Minimal the text within and order to seethis at work. artists established A brief glance down the list of illustrations in this anthology emphasises this point.
From Richard Artschwager, Claes Oldenburg, Lee Bontecou, Keith
Sonnier, Paul Thek; the strictures governing what might constitute a 'Minimal' loose. In her 1995 introduction to today strike one as remarkably may work of art Battcock's anthology, Anne Wagner points to the wide range of artists that, at the time, fell under the remit of the 'Minimal', citing Samaras, Bontecou, Yayoi Kusama, Lindsey Decker and Claes Oldenburg as examples of those anomalous 7 left been out of account' since the sixties. artists that have 'consistently The more the period is explored, the less tenable the ten-n 'Minimalism'
both as a definition of the works of Morris, Judd and LeWitt, and as a term to describe a prevailing model of practice in New York during the sixties.
Meyer's recent book Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties (2001) has gone a long way to expanding the remit of the Minimal
6The recentshowat theHaywardGallery,Londonin 2000,soughtto reclaimthe statusof kinetic art madeduringthe sixties. SeeGuyBrett, ed.,Force Fields: Phasesof the Kinetic,London,2000 7 Anne M. Wagner, 'ReadingMinimal Art', in Battcock,Gregory, ed., Minimal Art: a critical anthology,BerkeleyandLos Angeles,1995,p. 13.
8 footnotes) in his 'lost'. Meyer also points out or many artistssince parentheses, the discrepanciesbetweenthe so-called'minimal' at the time, and its subsequent historicisation,trackingan intimategenealogyof the word asit appearedin the art pressprior to the Minimal explosion. However,by retainingthe names'Andre', 'Flavin', TeWitt, 'Judd' and 'Morris' ashis principal characters,the stageis still set for a project that seeksto retain the Minimal as the dominantmodel of sixties sculpture. Meyer's important work, the largest and most serious to date to concentratesolely on Minimalism, provides an invaluable contextualisation of both the historicalperiodandthe main texts andshowsof the time. A book that has proved crucial to my own study is Alex Potts's The Sculptural Imagination (2000). This book charts a distinct kind of sculptural imagination that has developed since the end of the eighteenth century, in which the display and positioning of objects, and the viewing encountersthey engender,were placed under a wholly new set of pressures. Potts's work has been pivotal to the study, which shares his investigation into the implications for 9ý by Potts develops the sculptural encounter. generated subjectivity a model of
spectatorial encounter with
the three-dimensional object that spans the
Canova, Anthony Caro and David through the welded works of of neoclassicism Smith, to the serial structuresof Donald Judd and Robert Morris, continuing up to recent installation works by Louise Bourgeois. He explores the different kinds of encounter in which the viewer has been embroiled in modem and post modem practices, claiming that the anxiety certain works arouse in the spectator finds its analogue in the shifting conditions of display, mobility and placement of both viewer and object.
Potts addressesthe implications of these different encounters in terms of the fragmentation and fraught experience of the modem subject facing the potential works. It is this key engagementof the spectator, locked into a relationship with the object, that concerns me in the present study, where the fractured encounter 8 See my review of Meyer's book in which I discuss the above points in more detail, OBJECT, no. 5, London, 2003, pp. 86-88. 9 Praising the ambitious nature of Potts's project in his review of The Sculptural Imagination, Thomas Crow succinctly describes how Potts's study raises the stakes of sculptural theory in the way in which it represents 'nothing less than the obligation of serious art to account for subjectivity', 'Sculptural Enlightenment', The Sculpture Journal, VIII, 2002, pp. 89-90, p. 90.
between subject and object is also addressed. Potts argues that the shifting from large-scale, brings it to of sculpture, small with an conditions physical accompanying shift from private to public modes of looking and consumption. Since the sixties, the dernaterialising drive of the object has been 'poised on a fault line"O between instalI ation-type art, and object-based sculpture, that makes clear the instability of the viewing encounter with the work. I take this position of the destabilised encounter of the viewing subject as the starting point for the following investigation, where modes of viewing the object are understood as subjectedto similar pressuresand complications. In this thesis, I want to shift the focus, to tip the scale in favour of the marginalised, silenced voices of the sixties. My point is not to simply switch the for Samaras not Judd, Bontecou not a centrality cast of characters, claiming Morris; that would simply be misleading.
What is possible, retrospectively,
however, is a cracking open of those terms of engagement, a widening of the boundaries that allows both for an encounter with those primary, crucial texts on deal. the they the a and renegotiation of objects with which period, of sculpture Throughout the following chapters I have used the same texts that have typically been understood as 'about' the Minimal work of art, to tell an alternative story of sculptural practice, already embeddedthere, but always obscured. ***
My interest in Samaras,Bontecou and Westermann arosefrom my initial research I had Donald famous Judd's In Minimalism. time spent re-reading particular on is from 1965, 'Specific Objects' which normally understood as a an essay essay polemic in support of the Minimal object. Instead, 'Specific Objects' revealed itself to be about a bewilderingly diverse list of artists, spanning generations of both the East and West coastsof American sculptural practice which Judd claimed were either precursors to, or contemporary makers of the new specific object. Alongside Ronald Bladen, Anne Truitt, John Chamberlain, Richard Artschwager, Dan Flavin, Robert Morris, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Watts, and Tony Smith,
10Potts, op.cit., p. 22.
West Coast artists Kenneth Price, Bruce Conner and Ed Kienholz are also classed as 'specific object' 11 C. Westen-nann. H.
artists, as are Lucas Samaras, Lee Bontecou and
Judd's argument in 'Specific Objects' opens with the now infamous statementthat 'Half or more of the best new work in the last few years has been neither painting 12 had been Neither it sculpture'. entirely consistent in its formal nor achievements,or sharedconceptions of what a sculpture should be, as Judd makes diversity drawn he to the of practices points upon in his essay. In a clear when in Judd is this article in order to accommodate, not net a wide casting way, account for the diversity of sculptural practices emerging at the time, a kind of overview of the current scene in which his aim was to rebut prior models, rather than to hornogenisethe new objects.
Rather, it is his antagonism toward established, European models of practice with their emphasis on illusion and pictorial imagery, that is being dismantled in the discrete instead 'open units are single and extended, more or new work, where 13 It is this shift of spatial relations which Judd suggests less environmental'.
differentiates the new object from previous models. In earlier sculptures, 'beams thrust' outward, as though paint strokes, presenting a 'naturalistic and 14 '[t]he image' to which spacecorresponds'. 1 would argue that anthropomorphic it is exactly the new 'open' and 'environmental' occupation of spacewhich Judd leads the that to a mode of encountering sculpture, of new as exemplary praises the works under discussion here, in which these objects encroach upon, rather than merely 'correspond' with space. Space, in these works, now folds in on itself, closes up and refuses access,or envelops or suffocatesthe viewer.
Any aspect of 'anthropomorphism' which might be provoked by these objects stemsmore from the way in which the viewing body is activated by or through the inherent in it becomes both the than object as my anything or contained object, 11Judd, Donald, 'Specific Objects', Art Journal, vol. 30, no., 7, April 1965, pp. 181-189, reprinted in Donald Judd: The Complete Writings 1959-1975, Halifax and New York, 1975, p. 183. 12Ibid. 13Ibid. 14Ibid.
aggressorand analogue. A key buzz word of the time, 'anthropomorphism' came to stand for a variety of different things, whether as descriptive term or negative criticism, bound up with issues of figuration and bodily identification, and also issuesof scale and size, of sculpture persisting as a kind of bodily counterpart for the spectator. In the following chapters the body remains a pivotal point of body the of the spectator and its relation to the object he or reference, specifically she is faced with. The aggressivity of the objects under examination is not the samein each case,and the encounter with a work by Bontecou is very different to that of the spectator facing a Westermann object. Rather, what each of these desire be humorous, is to the wrong-foot viewer, which can a share artists but instance in demandsa radical threatening, or each which aggressive,awkward renegotiation of one's subject position in relation to that work. Although elision or loss of subjectivity might be the implied, or actual, threat of these objects, this loss is never wholly successful. What renders each of these is in the way which none of them relinquishes the so exceptional artists' works However in fraught itself the the their that attack on status object. of object encounter might be, the sheer materiality of the object under discussion is never lost; rather, it is that fraught point of intersection between the object and subject which maintains the encounter. Although 'Specific Objects' provides a compelling survey of new threedimensional work, the argument Judd proposes fails to find resolution in the face illustrate the essay. It may be that Judd was to the selected actual objects of simply trying to accommodatethe new and expanding range of artists working in three dimensions at the time, providing a kind of critical overview of the contemporary art scene. However, the situation is, I feel, more critical than that. A major problem lies in Judd's positioning of the 'specific object' negatively, defined only in terms of what it is not. Whilst his emphasison the diversity of the larger he be discusses does he to temper trying to any claims might serve artists impose on the works as a unit, the logic of the specific object starts to unravel as the individual objects are addressedin all their specificity. Although I return to this point in more detail in chapter two in relation to Judd's article on Lee Bontecou, written the same year as 'Specific Objects', it is important to note that 22
Judd was not attempting cogently to theorise the works selected. Rather, what is seen in 'Specific Objects' is a dilemma between Judd's idea of 'specific object' and the actual specificity of the objects by Samaras, Bontecou and Westermann which I shall explore in the following chapters.
One year after the publication of Judd's 'Specific Objects' and his article on Bontecou, another critic also sought to addressthe contemporary sculptural scene in an equally interesting, and in some ways, more overt way. Lucy Lippard's in Abstraction', Art International in November 'Eccentric was published essay 1966, to accompany the show of the same name that Lippard curated at the Fischbach Gallery, New York.
The remit of 'Eccentric Abstraction' was to
counter the prevalent Minimal, or 'structural idiom"s currently dominating the New York art scene, with less hard-edged sculptures that 'refused to eschew 16 imagination and the extension of sensuousexperience' whilst at the same time 17 formal basis' of Minimalism. refusing to 'sacrifice the solid Both Judd and Lippard make large claims which seek to disrupt contemporary Judd 'specific the with object' and Lippard with the practice, modes of sculptural erotic, surreal humour of the so-called 'eccentric abstractionists' in responseto the Minimal model. Although apparently writing from opposite ends of the critical fact is is to the that in validating their crucial my project spectrum, what draw Lippard both Judd and upon the same pool of artists. respective positions, Bontecou, Samaras and Westermann are each afforded individual attention in 8 Lippard's article, where they are cited as 'precursors" to the current scene of Viner Frank Lincoln and Don Potts. abstract sculptors such as
Abstraction was also Bruce Nauman's first New York group show, in which his rubber strip pieces were exhibited.
Lippard compares the way Bontecou
'subjugated the evocative element to unexpected fon-nal ends'19in her 'gaping' wall reliefs, to Westermann's own 'fusion of the sensuouselement with deadpan
15Lucy Lippard, 'Eccentric Abstraction', Art Intemational, vol. 10, no. 9, November 1966, pp. 2840, p. 28. 16Ibid. 17Ibid. 18Ibid.
19Ibid., pp. 28 and 34.
20 form'. Samaras's 'sadistic pin and needle objects and yam-pattemed abstract boxes' 21 also manage to combine the opposing registers of the 'physically 22 disturbing'. Nauman's cut rubber and cast fibreglass attractive and evocatively strips, hung sparely from the wall, with their rough surfaces and drooping lilt are described by Lippard as 'carelessly surfaced, somewhat aged, bluffed and 23 deceptively inconsequential first at sight'. repellent, wholly non-sculptural and Limply suspendedfrom the middle of the wall, Lippard refers to the strips as having a 'left-over function', an early working through of Nauman's later concern with casting negative space, so that a solid block of resin might register as the hole a cast chair, or oval a might stand as marker of the absented spaceunderneath body. Lippard was drawn to the absurd suggestion of a 'non-sculptural' sculpture that is almost 'not there' which Nauman's work seemsto offer. Bontecou, Samarasand Westermann seem to straddle a divide. This was not an historical or practical divide, between the 'new' and the 'old', or between but mainstream acceptance, a theoretical one, in which the and marginal practice for conflicting theorisations of sculpture somehow at odds with are raised stakes their idiosyncratic formal appearances. As well as highlighting the hard-won battles occurring at this time between different theoretical positions, the fact that each of these artists was employed by opposing writers to confirm their own positions demonstratesthe unstable, conflicting status of both the objects and the theories. ***
I want now to present a brief schematic outline of my project.
Firstly, I will
sketch the ideas around resistance, secrecy and haunting that recur throughout, describing the various theoretical discourses I have drawn upon in this study in order to examine the 'secret', encrypted world of these artists' work. I shall then highlighting a summary of each chapter, present
the central concerns and issues
raised. The first three chapters take as their focus the work of Samaras, Bontecou 20Ibid., p. 34. 21 Ibid. 22 Ibid. 23 Ibid., p. 38.
and Westermann. The fourth and final chapter addressesthe work of Bruce Nauman in relation to the series of sculptural homages to Westermann he made immediately after graduating from art school during the mid-sixties. This final chapter serves as the concluding section of my thesis, where I addressmore fully some of the theoretical issuesraised throughout this project.
Explicitly addressed in chapters one and two, and implicit throughout, is a fundamental engagementwith the subject's psychic encounter with sculpture. As discussedabove, my interest is in the kinds of fraught encounter with sculpture in becomes in ideas I interested the embroiled. am of how objects viewer which might 'mean', specifically those objects that seem so deliberately difficult for the spectatorconfronted with them. This difficulty is not only the preserveof abstract 'symbolic' for both Samarasand, the narrative, or make-up of apparent sculpture, Westermann H. C. seemedto suggestsomething more like a strategy more overtly, of secrecy and intractability, what I have theorised throughout in terms of different schemas of encryption. These artists sought deliberately to engulf the heighten desire know hidden in to the that to that served only ways object, 'kernel' or centre.
Structured, then, around systems of secrecy and secretion, privacy and privation, the objects under discussion in the following chapters seek, in their own idiosyncratic ways, to engage that strategy of resistance and secrecy. Although claims for the unfixability and slippage of meanings have become cliches within contemporary art historical discourse, it is not simply, or not only, that aspect of the work upon which I want to focus in the following chapters. Rather, it is the underlying processes and stratagems by which the artist achieves this 'unfixability'
through the specificities of their fixed, material processes of
Chapter one focuses on a series of boxes Samaras first began to work with in 1960; small found boxes picked up in junk shops and painted mute shadesof grey,
black and white, and stuffed with plaster-soakedsheetsof cr8pe-paperthat 25
hardened into impenetrable shells. These boxes were made prior to Samaras's trademark works in which he continued to use reclaimed boxes as well as work with pre-fabricated ones. He covered these boxes in thousandsof glass beadsand semi-preciousjewels. He would envelop others in arabesquesof coloured yam, or pierce them with pins so that they shone and bristled, or he would stick single, sharp carving knives into their centres, so that they protrude from beneath the semi-open lids. Crammed with stuffed birds, cutlery, self-portraits, syringes and beads,the motifs and objects contained in or covering these boxes are repeatedin the series of dinner plates Samarasconstructed. In these, drinking glasseswere glued to a tray and filled with yam and or plates covered with mocked-up rotting meals. Many writers emphasise the psychic dimension of Samaras's work, highlighting the fetishistic and sadistic charge of their surfaces and contents, as nightmarish 24 embodiments of repressedpsychic trauma. This work has been written about in terms of orality, fetishism and narcissism, readings that stem from an iconographical analysis of the objects. Contrary to these claims, I argue that the 'psychoanalytic motifs', taken alone, are inadequate to the effects of scattering, cramming, stuffing and spilling that make up the psychoanalytic logic of Samaras's work. Instead, what is foregrounded is the way in which his boxes refuse such iconographical 'subject matter'. It is, rather the resistance Samaras imposes upon his works' 'subject matter' that activates their psychic dimension. Rather than a process of revelation, I argue that Samarasseeks to stave meaning off, not invite it in, as though performing a kind of 'cut' on iconographical 24Writers have drawn attention to the psychic dimension of orality in relation to the dinner plate works, particularly Kim Levin, who has written the only full-length study on the artist to date, in 1975. See Kim Levin, Lucas Samaras, New York, 1975. Levin's book touches on the disturbing, psychically charged encountersthat Samaras's boxes dramatise, for example the sharp knives and pins, and the inclusion of self-portraits and mirrors in his pieces. However, she does not establish any theoretical framework through which to situate or begin to map Samaras's work, other than invoking the implied threat of violence they contain. Donald Kuspit has written on the fetishistic element of Samaras's boxes, connecting them to his Byzantine past in a fairly pedestrian account focusing on his pastel works that does little to expand the theoretical parametersthrough which to think about his sculpture. See Donald B Kuspit, 'Lucas Samaras's Death Instinct', The New Subjectivism: Art in the 1980s, New York, 1988. See also Diane Waldman, 'Samaras:Reliquaries for St. Sade', Art News, vol 65, October 1966, pp. 44-46 and pp. 72-75, and Charlotte Willard, 'Violence and Art', Art in America, no. 57, January, 1969, for examples of such approaches. Samaras's own writings also draw upon psychoanalytic tropes of maternal fear, violence, sexual phantasy and the object-as-fetish. See for example Lucas Samaras,Samaras Album, New York, 1971, and Lucas Samaras,Crude Delights, Pace Gallery, New York, 1980.
readings. I argue this point in relation to the early series of plaster boxes, as I demonstratethat the structure of secrecy and concealment of his later boxes was always the structural motor behind his boxes, even before he began to fill and cover them with jewels, pins and yam. Samaras'sboxes tell us only that a secretis impacted within the structural form of the box, not what that secret is. My concern is not to identify the specificities of what that secretcontent or meaning might be, but to understandthe various means through which the artist seeks to conceal it, a strategy described by Abraham Maria Torok 'cryptonymy', I, Nicolas and as which psychoanalysists later detail To is in the to on. make obvious point, once a secret some shall return known, it is no longer a secret. Literary critic Esther Rashkin, whose own work has helpful Torok Abraham to the present study writes, '[w]hat is proved and on is 'meaning' in in barred cryptonymy not any traditional senseof the or obstructed ni drama that resists meaning, &e=ýtPý)term, but a connection, situation, or
It is this resistant kernel of secrecy, a kind of promise that is always thwarted, that structures the way
Samaras's boxes are both
Lee Bontecou's large-scale, wall mounted constructions are the focus of chapter 26 In this chapter a shift occurs from the small, intimate scale of Lucas two. Samaras'sboxes, to Bontecou's large, imposing reliefs, although they share with Samaras'swork the positing of something absent or secret concealed at the centre for Bontecou's the allow a more elastic mode of looking-from works object. of far away, where the objects look like flat, two-dimensional paintings, to closeblack dirty, fill line the they the crater with and stained fabric of vision up-where knives, lids it. The the threatening of nature pins, closed over stretched sheath boxes is in Bontecou's Samaras's exaggerated of glistening surfaces and caked, is immanent the to the threat spectator even more physically, reliefs, where interestingly, and, more abstractly charged. psychically 25Esther Rashkin, Family Secretsand the Psychoanalysisof Narrative, Princeton, 1992, p. 37. 26Many thanks to Briony Fer and Tamar Garb for inviting me to present a paper on Bontecou in their session 'Disappearance' at the 2003 AAH conferenceARTiculations. Thanks also to the audienceand panel whose questions and comments have helped me formulate my argument in relation to Bontecou's work.
If Samaras'simpenetrableworks describea structureof secrecyand potential damageif violated,Bontecou'swork seemsalmostto enactthat promisedattack. No longera covertoperationof peeringsuchas,I argue,Samaras'sboxesrequire, the mode of looking in theseworks is more libidinally charged. A devouring, both demanded from is the work. The damage and emitted ravishing gaze threatenedis real, and is not only aimedat my hand,or eye, but my entire body. The secret, absent centre threatens to incorporate me within its centre; a destructiveencounterin which both the subjectand object is put underpressure, threateningthe dissolutionof both. The 'open and extended'or 'environmental' by Judd finds its dramatisation in the the praised most vivid of objects aspect 'grim, Judd described in such Bontecou, abyssal' whose objects work of 27 her. his In Bontecou'swork, the spaceoutsideof article on compellingdetail in the object is no longer merely activated,but is viscerally encroachedupon and devoured. In manyways,the work of both SamarasandBontecoudramatisesthe situationof sculpture during the sixties.
By the last few years of the decade, the
'dematerialisation'of the object was a well-establishedtrope, almost a cliche decade during the the of wasalreadyunderinvestigationin the earlier years which 28 discussed 'assemblage' in artists, chapter two. work of those so-called Samaras'sand Bontecou'scareful, hands-oncrafting of their objects distanced their practicesfrom both the manufacturedcharacterof the Minimal object and the conceptualprojectsof, for example,BochnerandLeWitt. This createda high level of tensionbetweenthe abundant,almostexcessivematerialityof the object, its it to the thwarting and contents. access of and The objects of Westermann offer a less physically threatening encounter than those of Bontecou and Samaras,and it is these works that I focus on in chapter three. What Westennann's works share with Samarasand Bontecou, rather, is a 27Donald Judd, 'Lee Bontecou', Arts Magazine, April, 1965, pp, 17-21, reprinted in The Complete Writings 1959-1975, Halifax, Novia Scotia and New York, 1975, pp. 178-180. 28The term 'dematerialization' gained currency in the late sixties, specifically after Lucy Lippard and John Chandler published an article entitled 'The Dematerialization of Art' in 1968, which Lippard then expanded into her book Six Years: 77te Dematerialization of the Art Object, New York, 1973.
This is not merely to cast 'nothing' as the work's
meaning, but to point again to the strategies of cryptonymy and difficulty the objects embody.
Unlike the voracious mode of looking Bontecou's works
fragmented 'peering' offered by Samaras's boxes, the or partial, engender, Westermann's works require a type of looking that has more in common with the physical act of 'drifting'.
I cast both the viewing experience and mode of
demand in Westermann's works construction
'braconnage' (or 'poaching') as alternative ways of reading, juxtaposing, creating language from 'borrowed' Claude L6via appropriately and understanding, Straussand Michel de Certeau respectively. I draw attention to the way in which Westermann's so-called 'folk' craft style, with his carefully carved wooden Death Ships, painted houses and clunky, figurative personnages, are not so much but instead language are within a entrenched anachronisms, of makingoutmoded do and bricolage that belies their apparently unfashionable status as craft objects, 29 labelling hobbyist. as provincial and Westermann's
29In her unpublished PhD thesis The 'Do-it-yourself Artwork': Spectator Participation and the 'Dematerialisation' of the Art Object, New York and Rio de Janeiro, 1958-1967, Courtauld Institute of Art, London, 2003, Anna Dezeuze also draws upon the notion of bricolage. She explores the differing modes of experience and participation certain art works have demanded from the late fifties to the sixties, as she tracks the so-called 'dematerialization' of the art work back to a much earlier period of artistic production than the late sixties, focusing on earlier work by Fluxus, 1958 1967 between the Neoconcretists in such as and artists and movements produced Brazil, to JasperJohns and Andy Warhol. Dezeuze's understanding of the work of the bricoleur differs from mine in several ways. I refer only to L6vi-Strauss's definition of bricolage, rather than a generalisednotion of the bricoleur as hobbyist, or amateur handyman. Dezeuzecontraststhe work of bricolage with that of Umberto Eco's theory of the 'open work', suggesting that, whilst the 'open work' and bricolage are similar in that they each bring together various parts in order to down bricolage is to within the remit of the art work, as it not so easy pin a new whole, make extends into everyday life, and is less clearly delineated. 1, however, argue that Westermann's engagementwith bricolage is a carefully orchestrated system that, unlike Dezeuze's reading of bricolage as endlessly open, actually involves a rather more limited set of tools at the artist's disposal, that do in fact operate within a fixed, closed system of artistic production. In my work on bricolage, I focus explicitly on the aspectof repetition and the notion of the 'retrospective' that Ldvi-Strauss employs in his discussion of bricolage. In this chapter, and also my development of the notion of 'autobricolage', I also draw upon the work of Michel de Certeau, as does Dezeuze, although we each reference rather different aspectsof his work on the 'everyday'. I focus on de Certeau's notion of 'braconnage' or 'poaching' as a counter to the systematic re-ordering that bricolage demands,involving a less systematic mode of both making and viewing that de Certeau describesin terms of 'drifting'. Dezeuze's concept of the 'do-it-yourself artwork is a fascinating responseto the kinds of audience participation and subsequentmodes of viewing and handling of the work of art, and provides an important model for understanding many works of art that seemingly fall outside the remit of contemporary sculptural practice during the late fifties and early sixties, although as her thesis was only completed in 2003,1 was unable to engage more directly with her ideas at the time of writing my chapter on bricolage.
Max Kozloff described Westermann's development of a visual vocabulary of stock symbols and recognisable forms as 'a sculptor who may be said to be 30 lack of utterance'. This is a strategy of 'cryptonymy', obsessedwith visual art's by which Westermann choosesto work with a limited resource of private motifs that, far from narrating a personal or private story, in fact stand only as markers that a secretnarrative is at work, without revealing 'what' that secretultimately is.
In the case of each artist I have found illuminating a small, hand crafted or moulded box, made at the very early stagesof their careersin the caseof Samaras and Bontecou, and made slightly later, in the early sixties, by Westen-nann. What each of these boxes share is a position as somehow outside of the dominant is due formal difference, or these that to their artists, whether of strategy working instead due to their having been ignored in subsequentaccounts of these artists' function in following boxes These the chapters as a mythic 'origin story' works. for each artist's career.
In chapterone, I focus on Samaras'ssmall plasterboxesas a casestudy through be his later, boxes. light Between 1959 I can shed on complex more which, argue, hand-size boxes,coveredin Bontecou 1960, a number made of small, welded, and black velvet and coatedwith thick black soot. After constructingtheseintimate boxes she moved off in an entirely different direction, toward her large, cavitystrewnwall structures.Theseearly, small black boxesappearas thoughmaterial later her in the voids of reliefs, which we seeBontecouworking of embodiments through critical issues such as secrecy and absence,that prove crucial to later The box by Westermann, the small wooden wall-hung pieces. understanding on the otherhand,fits neatly into his ongoingengagementwith carpentryand his hinged of wooden boxes. Intriguingly titled Secrets,I argue, construction however,that this largely ignored box of Westermann'smight also stand as an for in his secrecy understanding strategy of and own privacy relation origin point to his otherworks.
30Max Kozloff, H. C Westennann,Los Angeles, 1968, p. 6.
In the final chapterI focus on the work of Bruce Nauman,specifically his series of sculpturalhomagesdedicatedto Westen-nannand Henry Moore in the midsixties. Nauman'sinheritanceof certain aspectsof Westermann'swork receives its contemporary resonancein the work of Rachel Whiteread, a kind of 'transmission' that I describeas 'transgenerationalhaunting'. This aspectof artistic hauntingsuggeststhat Whiteread,throughlooking to the work of Nauman who, in turn, looked to the work of Westermann,has unwittingly inherited a 'family secret'that is 'Westermann,and his working practice. What this secret hints at is the idea that Whitereadis less influencedsolely by Naumanand the more familiar sourceof Minimalism, but that her work also owes much to the wooden,figurative 'craft work' sculpturesof Westermann. The work of psychoanalysts Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok inform my work around secrecy and haunting in this thesis. Since their translation into English in 1986, Abraham and Torok's work has proved influential
within literary theory,
English departments in North America. in French and particularly
LaJer-Burcharth invokes Abraham's concept of the 'phantom' toward the end of her article on Tracy Moffatt in her article 'A Stranger Within', 31 and Briony Fer cites their joint
paper ' "The
Notes on Endocryptic 32 Identification', (1975) in her article 'Objects Beyond Objecthood" there has
been no detailed engagementwith their work in art history or the visual arts. The work of Abraham and Torok has begun to receive some attention in recent have been, or are currently being France, their texts of and many of years outside translated. Abraham and Toroks' work has been used to great effect by certain Nicholas in Esther Rashkin, Royle and Nicholas particular, especially writers Rand, the original editor of Abraham and Toroks' works, and now co-collaborator hope I Torok. to emphasisethe importance of these two crucial theorists in with relation to art historical writing, particularly their concept of secrets,cryptonymy haunting. phantomatic and
31Ewa Lajer-Burcharth 'A Stranger Within', Parkett, no.53,1998, pp. 36-45. 32Briony Fer, 'Objects Beyond Objecthood', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 22, no. 2,1999, pp. 25-36
Whilst other writers deploying the methodology of Abraham and Torok seek to repair, or make good the gaps in the narrative, or recover the secretsthat haunt characterswithin those narratives, the narrative, or history that I am tracking in this thesis is necessarilyof a far less closed and resolved nature. For this reason,I cannot, and do not wish to, track back and find the answers to explain irregularities and returns. I hope only to highlight that such gaps and ghosts function as constitutive of certain models of artistic practice, and might also provide a useful framework for thinking about the art historical discourses surroundingthoseobjects. The crucial aspect of Abraham and Torok's theoretical structure is the issue of unspeakabilty;the way in which communicationbetweensubjectsand knowledge barTed, is partial and fragmented. Describing the analytic task of oneself always of identifying the buried, encryptedlife story or secretsof the subject as a kind of jigsaw together puzzle, Abrahamand Torok articulate the analysand's a of piecing experience in terms of a series of 'broken symbols', that must be tracked backward,as they searchfor their missing counterpartin order to reveal the secret. The secretis not repressedin the Freudian senseof the term, that is, recoverable in other sublimatedactivities or processes,but is instead locked away, encrypted within the subject. This crypt remains unspokenand unarticulated,as though a foreign body wedgedinside the unconscious. The secretis not to be found in the analysand'sdiscourse,but is instead only to be identified in those gaps, breaks, distortions and discontinuities. Certain secretslocked within the subjectarc even harderto track down, due to the fact that the traumaticencounteris not their own secret,but that of anotherfamily Family secrets, Abraham and Torok claim, arc those traumas unwittingly passeddown to younger generations,who inherit them, without ever knowing what they arc. This 'transgencrationalhaunting' renders the analytic
has kind inherited the secretsof who unconscious ventriloquist, subject as a of someoneelse, now locked inside themselvesas a phantom, the carrier of the secret whose 'aim it is to wreak havoc [ ... ] in the coherence of logical
33 progressions. What returnsto hauntis the 'unsaid' and 'unsayable'of another, history different, secret and psychic life than the presenting an altogether consciouslylived one. In chapter four I introduce the idea of the phantom as a way of thinking through the problems of inheritance at work in the artistic homage as a series of ruptures. Literary critic Harold Bloom terms the breaking away from one's predecessoras a 34 his 'anxiety in influence'. is 'a 'kenosis' 'Kenosis' the work on of of process 35 discontinuity It is Bloom's with the precursor'. movement towards discontinuities, 'emptying 'kenosis' as a series of of out' that understanding of for negotiating Nauman's engagementwith the work of serves as a useful model both Westermann and Henry Moore. Bloom's account of the various methods by down is, however, fundamentally is Oedipal, influence passed a series of which breaks in which the sons must turn upon their fathers. I pitch Abraham and Torok's theory of the 'transgenerational phantom' against Bloom's Oedipal trajectory of inheritance, as a family secret, rather than a family romance which troubles later generations.
Employing Abraham and Torok's concept of the 'phantom effect', I posit Samaras,Bontecou and Westermann as 'secret' in terms of their exclusion from dominant accounts of the period, and, more importantly, in terms of the way in in 'secretive' function their secrets, or some way. Operating as as works which literally been have these quite remaindered in the footnotes of artists who secrets, the period were unwittingly
inherited and passed along amongst their
'phantom that the transgenerationally, so effects' of their contemporaries and, Bontecou Samaras, tangible today. and Westermann are cast in still objects are this thesis as examples of 'modernism's phantoms', a kind of rejoinder to recent blind has drawn Rosalind Krauss to that spots, what modernism's attention work 36 describedas Modernism's 'optical unconscious'.
33Nicolas Abraham, 'The Phantom of Hamlet, or The Sixth Act: Precededby the Intermission of Truth', in Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Shell and the Kernel, vol. 1, Chicago, 1994, p. 291. 34Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A 77teoryof Poetry, New York and Oxford, 1997. 35Ibid., p. 14. 36Rosalind Krauss, The Optical Unconscious,Cambridge, MA, 1993.
'Materialized Secrets': Lucas Samarasand Small-ScaleBoxes One of the most frequently rehearsedformats in twentieth century art is that of the box. From Duchamp's Botte en Valise, the Surrealist dream worlds-in-boxes of Joseph Cornell, the Fluxus boxes of George Maciunas and Robert Watts, and the cubic structures of the Minimalists, concepts of interior and exterior, space and containment, together with the attendant phantasmatic encounters that they stage, have been persistent. It is not a history of the box that is my concern here, although it remains a story worth telling. Nor do I intend to trace a lineage of Surrealist influence upon later artists. Rather, I want to set the stage for an encounter with the small-scale boxes made by Lucas Samarasduring the 1960s,in ' in particular the way which they enact strategiesof resistanceand secrecy.
Encrusted with glass jewels and beads, covered in tight concentric swirls of brightly coloured yam, pierced with hundreds of pins, crammed full with cotton knives hidden birds, syringes, and photographs, compartments, the wool, stuffed boxes made by Samarasduring the sixties could be seen to condenseelements as 2 diverse as Surrealism, Neo-Dada, Assemblage and Pop. Just as the Minimalists explored the seemingly endless permutations of geometric structure, so Samaras box Instead to the and again. again returned of paring down, also repeated and hollowing out and simplifying, however, Samaras sought to conceal hidden his boxes, layers camouflaging exterior surfacesand displacing and within objects interior spaces. He altered the viewing conditions the box demanded,by reducing its scale or rendering its surface dangerousto touch. From his earliest plaster and later found boxes, to the second-hand nineteenth century slightly rag stuffed jewellery boxes and 'sewing boxes' Samaraswould 'strip' before re-covering, to the factory-made, complex structures with jewels and other glittering materials
1A shorter version of this chapter was published in Object, no. 4, London, 2001. 2 The centrality of the box in modem art is something many writers on Samarashave commented on. Joan Siegfried opens her 1971 essayon Samaras's 'Boxes' exhibition with the statement 'The box is a universal form in the twentieth century'. 'On Peering into Lucas Samaras's Boxes', in Lucas Samaras: Boxes, Chicago, 1971, unpaginated.
stuck to their surface, Samaras'sboxes embody processesof secrecy and 3 encryption. ***
In his sparselydecoratedNew York apartment, at 101 Spring Street SoHo, Donald Judd kept a box by Lucas Samarasnext to his bed. Box No.48 (Ill. 1.1), made in 1966, is one of Samaras'slarger box constructions, complete with hinged lid that opens and closes. It is a jewel-covered, bead-filled container, with a bisected interior that contains, in the smaller portion, a large hypodermic syringe with a small globe of the world attached to the needle point. The larger section of the interior is filled with a massof pearly-pink elongated beads,encasedunderneatha sheet of glass like a macabre mausoleum of false nails. Painted onto the glass in image is hands, two the outlined of splayed skeletal stripes placed palm rainbow down as if pressing the glass sheet into place. On the inside of the box lid, and held in place by a series of equidistantly spaced pins, is the original black and image hands has been from X-ray the the taken, appearing of which painted white imprint though or reflection of their technicolour double. The entire a ghostly as has been box the covered in thousandsof gold-coloured glass exterior surface of beads and, from the side of the box protrudes one hundred or so yellow BB drawer bottom into the compartment a secret or at slotted of the box. pencils, When closed, the interior is hidden from view, with only the glistening gold display. large, Two sharp kitchen knives have pencils on and sharpened surface been thrust into the sides, slicing through the exterior of the box right into its centre. Describing Samaras's work as 'messy, improbable' and 'exceptional', in an York his Gallery, New in Green 1962, Judd drew the of show review at earlier function 'threatening that they to the claiming as works' quality', attention 4 Cmental,and sometimes actual, cacti'. Judd is referring here to Untitled (111.1.2)
3 Many thanks to Lucas Samaras for his time and thoughtful responses to my questions and in kept for discussion this the chapter, which are showing so and me many of under works queries, now in the artist's private collection. 4 Donald Judd, The Complete Writings 1959-1975, Halifax and New York, 1975, p. 45.
from 1961,a liquid aluminiumandsculpmetalrelief by Samaras.This work hasa from lumpy surface which protrudesa straightened-outsafety roughly moulded into from the the viewing space the that confines of picture surface sticks out pin 'safety', This the the straightened pin performs a of reverse pin's of viewer. threateningan assaulton the viewer, a threat that finds its counterpartin the knives that puncturethe surfaceof sharpenedprotrudingpencilsanddagger-sharp Box N6.48. The large knives that have been stabbedinto the sidesof this box rupturethe safeviewing conditionsof the spectatorat the sametime they pierce Judd's Minimal disrupt the space of apartment. and The photograph of Box No.48 (111.1.3and Ill. 1.4) situated next to Judd's bed is a 5 his in Minimal Placed image the the context of space of apartment. paradoxical in the realm of dream, phantasy and sex, this image evokes the arresting, Surrealist the of charge objet trouve at the same time as its eroticised psychic cubic form unmistakably apes the geometric structures of Minimalism.
than pointing to a sense of continuity or alliance between Judd and Samaras's here interests is knife however, the the me ease with which slices what work, through the two, deliberately brought together at an intersection that is marked not by a link but by a literal cut. The knives in Box No.48 pierce the interior of the box at the same time as their handlesjut away, cutting into the surrounding space intrusion I how functioning that, argue, puts an aggressive pressure as on we and think about the box and its surrounding environment. The same year Samaras made Box N6.48 found Minimalist Carl Andre also working through the different ways in which he too could 'cut' into space. With his 1966 Equivalent VIII series of one hundred and twenty fire bricks placed on the floor in a variety of different serial permutations, Andre sought to radically by 'razing' it to the the sculpture, contemporary viewing conditions of renegotiate later, in 1967, Andre One from the exhibited year and away pedestal. ground Eight Cuts (Ill. 1.5), in which he laid out a seriesof fire bricks again, although this time with sections removed that echo in negative the rows of fire bricks 5 Interestingly, in his bedroom, Judd also had a large John Chamberlain piece on the wall, as well as one of his own wall-mounted works, and a large Dan Flavin light piece, that runs the length of his loft. Thank you to JamesMeyer for pointing me in the direction of this image.
previously laid out in Equivalent VIII. Andre said 'Up to a certain time I was cutting into things. Then I realized that the thing I was cutting was the cut. Rather than cut into the material, I now use the material as the cut in space'.6 just as Samarassought to 'cut' into the outside spacesurrounding his box, so Andre's into the spatial conditions of his sculpture. cutting also with concern was
In 1961, Samarashad also made a floor piece from sixteen squares of roughly moulded sculpmetal tiles (111.1.6),anticipating the floor-bound work of Andre by This strategy of cutting through space unites, then, Andre's years. several Minimalism with Samaras'sown working process,briefly coming together in the box by the bed in Judd's apartment. This shows exactly the kinds of uneasy intrusions jarring that Samaras, and other artists, for example and connections Hesse and Westermann, engender-as Samaras said, 'I like making incisions 9.7 Another intrusion or 'cutting' into the space of the Minimal finds Judd and Samaras brought together once agabin, this time not in the privacy of Judd's home, but in the public arena of the Green Gallery whilst attending a Robert Morris exhibition. In another instance of a real dialogue between the Minimal and Samaras'swork, Judd recalls himself and Samaraswalking around Morris' show and knocking Column over, before then pushing it around the gallery floor in 8 felt be its 'formal inadequacies'. demonstrate to what they order to For all this common ground between Samarasand Minimalism, the threatening fundamentally in No. 48 Box tactile encounter in a stage a violence overtones of 'box' does Minimal the that cube or not, whether the spectator is a willing way both hand, A the the the twin poles eye and or visceral assault on not. participant brought jarringly in box. haptic Breaching together this the the and optic are of the divide between exterior and the interior space, the sheer surfaces of Judd's Samaras's, knives in intimate, Box No. 48 the the clustered ones of and structures do more than threaten to physically hann the viewer. They threaten also to inflict damage on the space and status of the object itself, by collapsing distinctions 6 Carl Andre, as quoted in David Bourdon, 'The Razed Sites of Carl Andre' , as reprinted in Gregory Battcock, ed., Minimal Art: a critical anthology, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1995, p. 104 7 Lucas Samaras,as quoted in Kim Levin, Lucas Samaras,New York, 1975, p. 43. 8 Donald Judd, as quoted in JamesMeyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the 60s, New Haven and London, 2001, p. 52.
between its liminal boundaries of inside and out, surface and centre with their
hidden compartments,extendablepartitions, fixed and hinged lids and secret drawers. Kim Levin, an early writer and occasional collaborator on Samaras's work, highlights the emphasis on the haptic that Samaras's boxes deliberately invite. She points out that there are 'hidden surprises that are revealed only if the 9 because, his it is the contents', with work, always 'necessaryto spectator shifts 10 The suggestion of the drawers being like those 'secret' drawers of the touch'. bottoms false bureau, of cupboards and cases also points to the or writing displacement of what one may accessor know about the object. The excessive cramming of his boxes with 'stuff, such as threads, pins, photographs,and stuffed birds, is an uncanny reminder of forgotten cupboards, old houses and junk-filled his for Judd Whilst the opening up of structures was a necessarymove in attics. "' 'less less mysterious, ambiguous, for Samarasit is order that they were made key his that the to that privation provides works. of strategy exactly
The psychicdimensionof the box as harbouringsecretsis suggestivelyrendered throughthat very processof cramming,by which the more the centreor contents are concealed,the more compelling and weighty they appear. The spectator's desireto know and own that secretcentreis in constantrelay, betweenexcessive Activation box, thwarted. the of constantly access particularly its supply and interior, is a themecommonto all Samaras'sbox constructions,the repetitionof language of secrecyandconcealment. a which evokes The tactility of Samaras's boxes involves a radical revision of the kinds of from As typically sculpture. expect we shall see, the one would encounter possibility of viewing Samaras'swork in any way other than a fragmented, partial one is impossible.
Examination of these works is instead displaced to the
kind hand body. Rather by than their any offer of and, extension, viewer's own 9Levin, op-cit., p-7410Ibid. 11Donald Judd, as quoted in John Coplans, Donald Judd, Pasadena,1971, p. 36. The full quote reads: 'It's fairly logical to open it up so the interior can be viewed. It makes it less mysterious, less ambiguous'.
bodily empathy, as, for instance, Oldenburg's soft sculptures seemto invite, these boxes remain hostile to the viewer's touch, whilst at the same time demanding it. If touch might be understood as the undoing of Modernism's emphasis on the optical, then we might understand Samaras'sbox constructions as also attempting 12 to wrong-foot the spectator through this emphasison the tactile.
Recast instead as an attack on previous models of viewing, the way in which the object is viewed in Samaras's case is 'razed' to the level of an encounter with a series of part-objects and fragmented aspects, a gaze that is riven by physical displacement. Later on in this chapter, I shall look at the ways in which the model been box demonstrates has in the that the tactility also small-scale negotiated of different Samaras, Hesse, Eva to than through their rather ends work of sculptor interiority. Krauss Rosalind treatments and and Marcia Tucker surface of various have suggested,in relation to the Minimalist object, that 'the art of the 1960swas 13 his Samaras in ' although also perceives work similar terms. surfaces, an art of Samarasdescribesthe difference between his surfaces and the surfaces of Judd's his boxes in that that open up terms with pointing out whilst, of excess, objects he had folding 'hundreds drawers lids, and panels, of skins or and out, with 14 'had his few'. Judd, only a clean pared-down structures, with surfaces', In the catalogue for his 1972 exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Samarasexplains his fascination with the box form, claiming 'the accessto boxes [ II decision them to the something. cover with came with ...
12For example, Briony Fer's, 'Drawing is a Dry World', paper on Vija Celmins, at the 'Visibility Friday 30'h London, May, 2003 Tate Britain, Practice' Women's addressedthis at conference of Modernist famous For the tactile the account of spectatorshipwhich and opticality. most aspectof American Painters: Noland, Olitski, Stella', Fried, 'Three Michael to see eyesight alone, appeals originally published as the catalogue essay for the show of the same name Fried curated at the Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachussetts,in 1965. Reprinted in his Art and Objecthood, Chicago, 1998, p. 227. Alex Potts also addressesthe changing modesof viewing and experiencing sculpture in his Sculptural Imagination, op.cit., See in particular the section on the 'phenomenological turn' of sculpture in the sixties and his discussion of Greenberg and Fried's in Modernist their the accounts of art that place of sculpture addressing materiality at attempts haptic Also, 'optical' importance the the than work of art. see aspect of on rather primary Rosalind Krauss on the 'tactilization' of opticality in the work of Agnes Martin in Bachelors, Cambridge, MA, 1999, p. 89. 13Rosalind Krauss and Marcia Tucker, 'Perceptual Fields', in Critical Perspectives in American Art, Amherst, MA, 1976, p. 15. 14Lucas Samaras,in conversation, April 2001, New York City.
15 16 it,. He 're-camouflage' their structure. To rewantedto geometry-buried camouflage implies that what one is disguising has already undergone a transformationof somekind, that the initial processof camouflagehasbeenwom throughor exhausted,so that it is necessaryfor it to be camouflagedonce again. A continual processof renewal by covering over and obscuringis carried out through the practice of 're-camouflaging'. In claiming that he 'subverted' the geometryof the box Samarasis inadvertentlyreversingFrank Stella's famous Modernist dictum that with his works 'what you seeis what you see',17itself a seeminglytransparentstatementof fact which also highlights the paradoxical natureof the art work. It is as if what one may cometo know aboutan object is alwaysalreadybarredby thosevery viewing conditionsof which it is a product. What you see is only what you see, and in Samaras'scase, the only thing layer is of opacity. Nothing moremay be known; you cannot available one more get any closer than that. Camouflaging an already-camoufl aged object insisting denies to that access centre whilst on the importanceof simultaneously it, if only throughthat refusal. Samarasplayswith the assumptionswe hold aboutsurfaceandcontent,insideand out, in ShoeBox (Ill. 1.7) from 1965. A stiletto shoewith cut away portionshas been placed on top of the lid which shifts our attention from its interior and focusesit insteadon the exterior surfaceof the box which hasbeencoveredwith swirls of brightly colouredyams. The shoehas been stuffed with hundredsof shiny pins, haphazardlycrammedin, spilling out of the gapsand over the ankle strap. From the interior of the semi-closedbox spill wispy wads of cotton wool that pour out over the sides,like a barely capturedcloud, or slit-opencushion,the containmentof which is only just maintained. The placementof the stiletto shoe on top of the box indicatesthat the ideal viewing positionof the box is with the lid focal lift To the the the lid and probe its with shoe remaining point. closed, contentsor centrewould involve moving the shoefrom its position,or breakingit 15Lucas Samaras, 'On Boxes', Lucas Samaras, New York, 1972, unpaginated. 16Ibid.
17Frank Stella, as quoted in 'Questions to Stella and Judd: an interview by Bruce Glaser'  reprinted in Battcock, op.cit., p. 158. Stella is here invoking a Minimalist rhetoric of rational banality; the one thing after another logic of Judd. To deploy such rhetoric involved establishing a strategy whereby the object itself managed to thwart extrapolation and expansion beyond its immediate formal and material condition.
brief box be is is What that this a should closed, allowing only clear made off. leaks be 'inside'-that that cloud of cotton wool may opaque glimpse of what from the interior. The 'centre' of the box, then, is the shoe-lid. It is less about demarcatingoff the interior, that which is private,prohibitedandclosed,but about decentringthe 'middle' of the box to the periphery. Box N6.8 (111.1.8)from 1963 on the other hand, is an extendable box, with the fall just that of coloured short of concealing the spirals yams with strewn exterior hinges and edgesof the compartment. It opens into a seriesof extendabledrawers inside box, lids. Photographs the to the the artist of of are panels pinned and formal his box's image The by to the wool attached with pins. of strands veiled facing is like the triptych, two with side panels outward and upward. a structure The usually vertical space of the triptych-as-altarpiece is turned sideways, flattened to the level of a table surface or floor. This flattening of the side panels to the secular spaceof the table top, away from the religious aspectof the tryptich, points to the vernacular procedure of opening and closing rather than the religious box is it The the the or altarpiece. centre of unavailable as reliquary of suggestion has been covered over with an array of uncanny objects including a stuffed bird, box has been The this tangled strands of centre of again yam. and coins gold displaced to the edges. The 'middle' of the box is filled to the limit of its for 'look'. (even To leaving to the viewer almost nowhere open out containment, formal box its ' forcing is 'box, framework to the the undo property of as partially) The the the to structure of cube. about point at which we us question assumptions its 'true' demonstrates is, the that the structural centre, opacity of access given are be is, in fact, decentered. 'middle' drawers The to the we expect core, of where that open can never fully show off their contents, as the centre of the box, the be is We drawer into the always slid, concealed. are will eventually which space kept in the dark as to what lies at the centre.
Untitled (Face box) (111.1.9)from 1963, is anotherwork in which attentionis drawnto the centreof the box whilst accessto it is blocked. The partially-opened is The that these space. assumption a yam-stuffed central suggest compartments limit just the threads of their containment,that they at are viewed multicoloured knowing box. The this, truly throughout the the possibility of middle of continue 41
however, is denied us. Again the surfaces have been crammed together, this time with hundreds of sharp spiky pins that give the box a glistening sheen. Every surface is covered with steel pins, clearly prohibiting entry, just as the photographs of Samaras that are stuck to the surface of the box also refuse us accessto the artist himself, his image again effaced by pins. The middle of the box is made up of a series of drawers that open underneath it, the extension of which literally pulls the ground from beneath the centre of both the box's position and from the spectatorwhom the box seeksto constantly trick.
This wrong-footing of the spectator and disturbance of the viewing conditions of sculpture was to find its most famous articulation in Michael Fried's 1967 article 'Art and Objecthood', published in Artforum as a critique of Minimalism. 'Art and Objecthood' addressesthe way in which large-scale Minimal structures are placed directly on the ground, demanding that the viewers move around them as though figures on a stage, which gives rise, Fried complains, to a fundamentally 'theatrical' encounter. What interests me is that Fried also, in a footnote to 'Art 18 lists Samaras 'theatrical' Objecthood', the work of as a and object maker. Fried claims 'It is theatricality, too, that links all these artists to other figures as disparate as Kaprow, Cornell, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Flavin, Smithson, Kienholz, Segal, Samaras,Christo, Kusama the list could go on indefinitely'. 19 ... Virtually echoing Judd's list of 'Specific Object' makers of two years previously, Fried seemsto be problematising the very category of what it is to be a Minimal, or 'literal' object, just as his essayapparently attempts to define it. I do not want to over-emphasise Fried's footnoted claims, nor re-tread the well-established critique of the term 'theatricality' as it is used in 'Art and Objecthood', which has 20 been in literature. 1 do not want to most effectively carried out already recent disagree with Fried's description of Samaras's work as 'theatrical', as it is clear that an element of theatre strongly inflects his constructions. What is important here, however, is Fried's insistence upon the theatricality of the 'literalists' as in like that of Samaras,Kienholz, etc. some way 18Michael Fried, 'Art and Objecthood, [ 1967], reprinted in Gregory B attcock ed., Minimal A rt: a critical anthology, California, 1995, p. 130, footnote 8. 19Ibid. 20I'm thinking in particular of both Alex Potts (op.cit) and JamesMeyer's recent work on Fried's account of Minimalism in 'Art and Objecthood' (op.cit).
When Fried later outlines,in anotherfootnoteto this text, the Surrealistaspectof literalist objects, his accountcould almost read as a detailed description of a Samarasbox. Fried writes, 'Both employimagerythat is at oncewholistic and,in a sense,fragmentary,incomplete;both resortto a similar anthropomorphizingof 21 objects or conglomerationsof objects'. My point is that claiming both a Minimal and Surrealist aspect to Samaras'swork is not merely a simple conflationof two disparatemodels,employedto shoreup my position so far, but in fact points to a relationship,buried at the heart of one the most important One American the sculptural practice of sixties. of might add that the accounts Samaras's boxes absolutelylend themselvesto the of aspect colourful, gaudy but chargeof being 'theatrical', althoughit is not simply the object's appearance, its placeandsituationin spacethat informs Fried's definition of 'theatre'. The placing of sculpture on the floor which led to the charge of theatricality in the Minimal object seemsrather at odds with what would happen if one of Samaras's boxes were placed on the ground, where it would most likely be stepped on or has 'an isolated, Potts Alex As pointed out small-scale sculptural overlooked. object is all too likely to strike one as mere thing or failed ornamental object 22 is it'. it Fried's problem stagedso as to prompt one to think otherwise of unless is bound theatricality up with the anthropomorphism of the work, as though with it were a secret vessel or body. It was this capacity of the box or hollow threedimensional object to function as container of a secret content that Fried picked Writing by Objecthood'. Robert 'Art in Morris, Untitled, a about work and up on Fried commented: It is, as numerous commentators have remarked approvingly, as though the work in question has an inner, even secret, life-an effect that is perhaps made most explicit in Morris' Untitled 23 (1965-66).
Interestingly, it is not one of Morris's boxes that Fried is referring to, but a floorbound ring, cast in fibreglass and made up of two identical sections, which are not 21Ibid., p. 145, footnote 19. 22pottS, op.Cit., p. 104. 23Fried, 'Art and Objecthood', in Battcock, op.cit., p. 129.
joined togetherbut sit just a fraction apart. From the spacebetweenthe two segmentsa fluorescentlight casts a glow, the origin of which is not visible, creatingthat experienceof an 'inner, evensecretlife' Fried identifies. What Fried is pointing to is somethingless stablein the work, an interiority that is beyond reach,a hollownessthat becomesrepletewith significationandsecretmeaning. It 24quality of the hollow, stagedobject is the 'almost blatantly anthropomorphic' that Fried finds disquieting. Questions of the body and anthropomorphism were central to debates around in 'anthropomorphism' became during the which sixties, a 'loaded and sculpture ubiquitous term', that, Briony Fer explains 'veers from something very very good to something very very bad,t25 in the kinds of bodily empathies it encourages between the viewer and the object. The 'hollowness' of the Minimalist work of 26 having for inside' 'the Fried, in forms that are is, that of an results, quality art, 27 Robert 'obdurate, Morris claims, solid masses". It is anthropomorphic, not, as the insides of the works that has provoked Fried's response then. The interior invokes psychically charged readings, with the hollow often space of sculpture 28 bodily analogues. container standing for so many inert, ***
It is the insides of the box, which, for Fried were so 'blatantly anthropomorphic' that had also captured the imagination of earlier artists working with the box, although their focus was not on the bodily associations of that interior but its structural nature, that is, the box as a container of something. Unlike Samaras's interest in subverting where we think the 'centre' or focal point of the box is, the 24
Ibid., p. 129. 25Briony Fer, 'ObjectsBeyondObjecthood',OxfordArt Joumal, vol. 22, no. 2,1999, pp. 25-36, in relation to the work of p. 30. In this article, Fer addressesquestionsof anthropomorphism LouiseBourgeoisand Eva Hesse,askingwhat kind of spectatorialencountertheseworks evoke, srecifically in relationto the kind of subjectivitytheyposit. 2' Fried, 'Art andObjecthood',in Battcock,op.cit. p. 129. 27Fried quotingRobertMorris in 'Art andObjecthood',Ibid. 28LawrenceAlloway, LucasSamaras:SelectedWorks1960-1966,New York, 1966,p. 9. In this catalogueessayAlloway commentson the rangeof libidinised,bodily readingsSamaras'sboxes have prompted. Such readingsdominatewritings on Samaras'swork, whoseboxesseemingly invite a welter of metaphoricinterpretationsas vociferouseroticisedbodily cavitiesthat the artist doesnot entirely dispute,claiming in 1963, 'A box is a mouth, certainly', as quotedin Levin, op.cit., p. 46.
spectator has typically been expected to look inside, to understand the box in relation to its having a 'content. In 1937, Andre Breton created Song-Object for Dora Maar, a small cardboard box with objects and a poem inside. Although decorated with a floral motif and elegant printed writing, it is not the exterior of the box that demandsone's attention, but the poem and objects concealed inside. Another box, Breton's Page-Object (111.1.10) from 1934, is a small, wooden hinged box, split into three compartments, the outer two of which contain glass eyes, the central section a feather fly for fishing. Attached to Song-Object and Page Object is a suggestion of privacy, indicating through their containment, the intimate nature of the objects and the poem. This sense of privacy in Breton's boxes is emphasisedby his dedication of each of them to another person, as an intimate homage to someoneelse. The box is for another-a secret or private gift or offering.
Paying homage to another through the medium of the box has
become something of a commonplace in twentieth-century art. Perhapsstemming from the spatial metaphors of the home or the coffin, or, in the realm of art, the tradition of the reliquary or memento mori, the box seems to provide the best means through which to commemorate another, as though a condensation of 29 'spirit'. elements, a summing up or encapsulationof that person's The box was a fon-n employed by several other Surrealist artists, as was the notion of the homage, for example, Man Ray's shroudedand bound sewing machine, The Riddle or The Enigma of Issadore Ducasse, a homage to the poetry of 30 Perhaps the most famous Lautreamont, whom the Surrealists so admired. 'Surrealist' box-homage is Duchamp's Bofte en Valise (111.1.11), a typically tongue in cheek take on the notion of homage in which the subject is himself. Containing miniature versions of his own work, this portable museum seemsto be a project of self-commemoration tinged with the macabre suggestion that it functions also at the level of a mementomori, with Duchamp's own life ironically celebratedin this box at the height of his success. Whilst other writers have often 29 In chapter four, I discuss the series of 'light trap' photographs taken by Bruce Nauman in relation to the way in which he sought to 'trap the spirit' of another. These works are each dedicated to another artist, part of a wider group of works in which Nauman created homagesto others. For an example of the spatial metaphoric of the house see Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, trans. by Maria Jolas Boston, 1994, which I return to once more toward the end of this chapter. 301 return to this work in chapter four. (See Ill. 4.8).
also understoodSamaras'sboxesas mementomori, relatedto an archaicpast of Byzantinerelics, I would suggestthat the mismatchedeclecticismof his works, like Duchamp'sBotte en Valise,sharesmore with a seventeenth-century cabinet of curiosities. As Emily Apter has argued,the cabinet of curiosity found its equivalentin the feverish collecting habits of the middle and nineteenth-century upper classesin fin de si6cle Paris, with the rise of 'bric-a-bracomania',as the bourgeoisinterior 'becameincreasinglylike a museum' and modesof viewing and display took on aspectsof 'peering' and voyeurism. Although Apter describesthis in termsof the fetish, I shall shift the focus awayfrom the fetishism 31 interpretation Samaras's of which remainsthe mostprevalent work. Jasper Johns's In Memory of My Feelings - Frank OHara (111.1.12), begun in 1961, is another small-scale box that also seeks to pay homage, although in this instance it shares with Samaras that sense of intimacy,
concealment and the
thwarted promise of access to its centre. Like his earlier 1955 Target with Plaster Casts that featured, above the encaustic surface of the target, a set of small wooden boxes or compartments containing casts of various body parts, In Memory features 0' Hara Frank FeelingsMy also a cast concealed within a wooden of box. 32 Inside this small box is a plaster cast of the foot of Johns' friend, curator and poet Frank O'Hara, adhered to the underside of the lid, which, when closed, bottom down into is in the the sand which of the box. presses
The moment of
contact is concealed and we see only the before and after of the event; the plaster foot and the smooth sandy surface, and then, after the lid has been closed shut and then re-opened, the footprint.
Imbued with a sense of intimacy and secrecy, the
box itself performs the moment of that secret imprint.
This is reminiscent of the
intimate containment of Breton's boxes and those skeletal hands imprinted on the sheet of glass inside Samaras's Box No. 48. Feelings - Frank OHara
When closed, In Memory of My
is a plain wooden box, concealing its interior which,
when revealed, shows its apparently hollow
empty inside to be replete with
31Emily Apter, 'CabinetSecrets:PeepShow,Prostitution,and Bric-a-bracomania in the Fin-deSi6cleInterior', in Ferninisingthe Fetish:Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsessionin Turn of the CenturyFrance,Ithaca,1991,p. 39.
32 See Fred Orton on Jasper John's sculptures, in Jasper Johns: The Sculptures, Leeds, 1996, and also his Figuring Jasper Johns, London, 1994.
bodily, foot the and an echo of a nostalgia, registered in the sand through memory,
its absence. It was that encounter between the viewer and the box which, by the early sixties, the neo-dadaistFluxus artists also sought reanimate. Working in the early sixties, Robert Watts and George Maciunas designed a number of inexpensive boxes, filled with accumulated objects and games.33 Although sale of these small-scale boxes was encouraged, due to their cheaply made and reproducable nature, they sought to strip the object of any real or aesthetic value, removing the boxes from the public, large scale category of 'sculpture' to what they perceived as a more cnon-art', private realm. Another work by Maciunas also brings together the box homage in the the and notion of a playful way. In his 1962 of category de Walter Maria, Maciunas typed and distributed Homage to performance instructions that required the participants to move de Maria's boxes from one location to another 'by the most difficult route' possible, suggesting that homage in this instance means something more than veneration, more like a continuation or inheritance of another's project as play, through simply rearranging it.
This playful reconfguration of another's project is seenagain, of course, in Robert Morris' 1961 sealed wooden box which contains a tape recording that plays back the sounds Morris made whilst making the box. Box with the Sound of its Own Making (111.1.13) was Morris' homage to Duchamp's 1916 With Hidden Noise (111.1.14), a ball of twine sandwiched between two square metal plates that contains a hidden object inside which makes a noise when the box is shaken. This is not a continuation of Duchamp's project, but rather, Morris is here re-casting Duchamp's cryptic object in the 'what you see is what you see' rhetoric of the
33SeeBenjamin Buchloh, 'Robert Watts: Animate Objects, Inanimate Subjects', in his Neo-AvantGardes and Culture Industry: Essays on European and American Art, 1955-1975, Cambridge, MA, 2000, for a discussion of the boxes by Watts, and Fluxus strategies in general for the ways in which they use the readymadeobject, gamesand play as a way of altering object relations in a way that seeks to critique the commodity culture they are inextricably caught up within. Buchloh writes 'Fluxus aspires neither to the open spacesof obsolescencenor to the radical transformation of everyday life, but rather to the ludic practices that open up suddenruptures within that system's mesmerizing totality and numbing continuity'. p. 55 1. See also Fluxus: Selections from the Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, New York, 1988 for an account of the Fluxus artists and their works.
Minimal object, althoughinterestingly,in an aural, not visual register,as Morris his box keep the to contents of secretand unavailable to see. chose
By the early sixties, the trope of the Surrealist box had been replaced by the 'Minimal
all its attendant anxieties over anthropomorphism,
hollowness and interiority, although it was not a form owned exclusively by Minimalism-Judd,
in fact, never made an entirely closed 'box'. Almost as soon
as the trope of the box was established,it became subject to reinterpretation, from Hans Haacke's casting a box in plexiglas and turning it into a mini ecosystem (Condensation Cube, 1963-65), to Sol LeWitt's taking a box outside and burying it (Box in a Hole, 1968), and Robert Morris's later box cabinet which he built climbed inside it (Boxfor Standing, 1961). To an extent, as many critics have remarked, Samaras's boxes run the gamut of Surrealism, Dada, Neo-Dada and Pop art, incorporating
aspects of each of the
above examples, whilst fitting none of these categories entirely.
Samaras sees his
he describes 'brother' 'pre-pop', being the what as or darker flip side to work as 34 kitsch Ki m the Pop world of ephemera and celebration of the and everyday. Levin describes the kinds of desires that Samaras's boxes are caught up with as diametrically
opposed to the consumer driven desires of, say Oldenburg's
Store, claiming he was 'expressing not a greed for products and technology but an 35 A consumption that, for Levin, functions in the insatiable hunger of the psyche'. know desire to the a and possess exceeding the consumption psychic, register of I although would question the validity of this and products, goods of convenience it hardly the two as unrelated aspects, as of wholly seems adequate to separation Oldenburg Warhol or as celebratory. see
Samaras's recent inclusion in the 'Les
Ann6es Pop' show at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, in 2001, situated his work West Bruce Conner Ed Kienholz, that of coast artists and as well as alongside 36 Robert Watts' Box of Eggs from 1963. They were placed in a room that sought
to reveal the darker side to Pop art, with objects and sculptures crushed, bound, 34LucasSamaras,in conversation,April 2001,New York City. 35Levin, op.cit., p. 40. 36Buchlohdescribesworks suchas this in termsof Watts performinga shift in the statusof the object from the organic and corporeal into the realm of representation,where the 'natural' presenceof the object is insteadsubjectedto 'the sameregime of designas are the objectsof everydaydesign'. Buchloh,op.cit., p. ý0- 54-9
dirtied and mangled, a kind of defunct pop, or oppressive reminder of the dangers from have been 3 Samaras's No. Box they the which extracted. consumer world of (111.1.15)was shown in Paris, alongside his Dinner No.5 from 1963, featuring a hand mirror and a dessert bowl filled with an unctuous gloop of yam caught in in box bed wrapped coloured of pins wool, all of which and a rest on a of glue, pins. ***
However, it is American Surrealist Joseph Comell's prolonged engagementwith the box that has dominated all subsequentaccounts of how to think about smallSiegfried has for, Joan boxes, pointed out, for any artist concernedwith it as scale 37 box 'the Cornell' device', Cornell's boxes are 'compositional would mean as a . Samaras's boxes, his in to to although relation whimsical worlds-inoften referred boxes and surreal scenarios have little in common with Samaras's darker, more macabre creations, which, as critic Kay Larson wrote, 'virtually smoke with 38 describes Larson Samaras's 'almost intensity'. work as radioactive' psychic compared to Comell's
'intimate, dreamy, mysterious, romantic' universes,
although, for all their intimacy and psychically enveloped interiors, for Larson the fundamental difference between the two lies in their different engagement with 39 box. surfacesand the exterior of the Comell does not place his own image within his boxes, although he often features images of other people. Samaras,on the other hand, frequently incorporates his into his image work, pierced with strands of yam, stacked own photographic loosely in the centre, or neatly scored and outlined with a row of pins. Although is by Samaras, it is storytelling element presented or clear narrative obvious no that his works are, in some way secret,they are private and profess to be all about
38Kay Larson, New York Times, 14'hNovember, 1988. 39Ibid. Reviewing a show of Samaras's work, Larson wrote: 'A box is a concentrated universe. Joseph Comell's cosmos was intimate, dreamy, mysterious, romantic. Samaras's boxes seem almost radioactive. They are covered in a seamless,scaly skin of shells, beads,and glass baubles, buoying up dangerous-looking things: barbed fishing lures, a poisonous snake's head, a tarantula, a scorpion, lovers in psychically lethal tangles, and the artist himself, whose face floats an-tidthe beadsas a coded warning and a reminder'.
himself, embodiments of what Robert Smithson was to describe as Samaras's 'lingering narcissism'.40 This is not the case with Cornell's boxes, however. The fragments of text, the dolls, scenarios staged and objects lodged within his boxes' interiors are typically contained within only three sides, with the fourth replaced 41 if is invited in. with glass so that our gaze, not our touch, actively
The narcissistic element of Samaras's boxes is often remarked upon, and is something the artist is himself keen to acknowledge in his work. Samaras'sbook of photographs and texts, Samaras Album, contains many of the artist's Polaroid self-portraits, many of which use a double exposure in order to produce a double he hugging that though the appears so as artist, or kissing himself. of portrait Samaras'smany writings also invoke a narcissistic model of subjectivity, in which his own body and phantasies structure the stories he tellS.42 In his writing, Samaras employs a mode of writing in which punctuation and grammatical structure are replaced with the infantile babble and scatological obsession of a child, in which he obsessesabout sex, and his relationships with women and his mother.
Self-consciously operating on a psychoanalytic register of infantile
drives and narcissistic investments, Samaras'stexts (and later photographs) often invoke oral and sadistic motifs, suggesting in tum a Kleinian reading of prefunctioning level drives, the the at operations of although these later symbolic boxes I these argue, with earlier made prior to the more erotic are at odds, works and sexually charged works. What Samaras'sboxes share with Cornell's work is a process of encryption, that is to say, within each of their works is bome out the suggestion of a secret buried in its both the the they or concealed structure, surfaces, revealing of which within 40Robert Smithson wrote that Samaras's boxes contain 'a lingering Narcissism', in his article ,Quasi-Infinitics and the Waning of Space',  reprinted in Collected Writings, California, Jack Flam ed., 1996, p. 34. The narcissistic element of Samaras'sboxes is often remarked upon, and is something the artist is himself keen to acknowledge in his work. See also Martin Friedman, 'The ObsessiveImages of Lucas Samaras's,Art and Artists, vol. 1, no. 8, November, 1966, pp. 2023 and Grace Glueck, 'Celebrating Many Lucas Samaras's', New York Times, Friday, 15th November, 1996. Samaras was also included in the 1968 show 'The Obsessive Image', in London, seeMario Amaya, and Ronald Penrose,The ObsessiveImage, London, 1968. 41Not all of Cornell's boxes were glass-fronted cabinets, of course. Many had lids that opened and closed, although, with their moveable sections and trinkets neatly lodged inside, they present more a scenarioof curiosity than implied damageto the viewer. 42SeeLucas Samaras,Crude Delights, New York, 1980.
Samarasdemonstratesthis through an encryption of his works' surfaces,whilst Cornell achievesthis through an internalisationof contentwith each box standingalone, hermetically sealed,as if a private world or universe
absolutelyoutside of this one. It is this refusal to yield fixed meaningsthat 43 Surrealism's Samaras most strikingly to connects moresuccessfulobjects. In 1967, to mark the occasion of Cornell's first solo show in New York at the Guggenheim Museum, Samaras was asked by the editors of Arts Magazine to for Cornell Rather full-length than publication. about a article, something write Samaras chose to write about Cornell without the conventions of 'sentence brief instead a contributing paragraph and full-page homage, with a structure', reproduction of one of Cornell's three-sided, glass-fronted boxes on the facing 44 The three-page entry is entitled 'Cornell Size', and, in the paragraph page. Samaras homage-image, the wrote preceding I used to think of size as something constant. I-Es [Cornell's] Now I differently. Things think small. are as big as pieces were the amount of spacethey fill in the field of vision. Up close his 45 works are enormous. The mode of looking that Cornell's boxes demand then, for Samaras,is intimate, loom large, filling the viewer's focused, the through which works up-close and 'field of vision'. In a way, Samarasechoesthe claims Mark Rothko had made for his large-scalepaintings, which, for all their monumental scale, sought to generate boxes, like Samaras's intimate that, small-scale encounter also implicated the an 46 frame. he its The that same year wrote the above paragraph on within viewer
43As well as the small boxes made by Andr6 Breton, I am thinking in particular of the surrealist objet trouv6, such as the iron mask and slipper-spoon Giacometti and Breton stumbled upon in a flea market. The bronze cast of Nadja's dropped glove is another instance of the cryptic surrealist object. See Hal Foster, Compulsive Beauty, Cambridge, MA, 1997, for a discussion of the objet trouv6, and Margaret Iversen's recent work on the 'found' and 'lost' object, presentedat the AAH conferenceARTiculations, London, 2003. 44 Lucas Samaras, 'Cornell Size', Arts Magazine, May 1967, pp. 45-47, p. 45. Illustrated in 'Cornell Size' are, on the first page Cornell's Medici Coin Slot Machine (1942), on the second final de la (1949-53), Suite Longitude Cockatoo: Keepsake Parakeet the and on page, page, (c. 1957). 45Ibid.
46Rothko said, 'I want to be very intimate and human However you paint the larger picture, you ... are in it. It isn't something you command', as quoted in Anna C. Chave, Mark Rothko: Subjectsin Abstraction, New Haven and London, 1989, p. 7.
Comell, Samaraspublished his article 'An Exploratory Dissection of Seeing' in Artforum, in which he wrote
Our three-dimension oriented language makes us accept surfaces as terminal and visually impenetrable. We see b)4ýtouch, and when we touch we feel what we touch touching us. Samarasis countering here the Modernist assertion of the primacy of the eye and gaze, instead positing a more visceral, tactile engagementwith those surfacesthat, far from projecting impenetrability instead invite our touch and penetration of its form. At issue in each of these paragraphs are the conditions under which we look at sculpture and the language which we use to describe that encounter: the first takes as its focus the intimate mode of looking that small-scale boxes demand looking in this terms of touch, as a physical the explains mode of second and for in 'three-dimensionally' oriented language. Inviting accounted experiencenot a model of viewing and description that calls upon bodily experience in order to explain visual effect, Samarasoffers a complication of the haptic and optic, that is, of spatial relations between the subject and the object, as '[almbiguity presents itself in the struggle between the senseof touch and the senseof sight2.48To an extent, of course, Samaras'sclaims are very much of their time, with his focus on the contingency of scale and size echoing the phenomenological writings of Merleau-Ponty and gestalt-basedwritings of Robert Morris. What is at stake in Samaras's writing here, however, is a fundamentally violent, intrusive model of vision and touch, of cutting and being cut, that is missing from 'Our Samaras writings eyes', contemporary on sculpture. other writes, 'seldom 49 The[y] scan-envelope objects' . From his claim that he likes stay in one place. 'making incisions' and the title of his treatise on looking which he calls a 'dissection', it is clearly the violent, visceral encounter Samaras's boxes invoke that distinguishes his model of spectatorial encounter from his contemporariesand which differentiates his surfaces,or 'skins' as he has also called them, from those of both Judd and Cornell. 47Lucas Samaras, 'An Exploratory Dissection of Seeing', Artforum, no. 6, December, 1967, pp. 26-27, p. 26. 48Ibid., p. 27. 49Ibid., p. 26.
The pressureunder which the small-scale box places the spectator is more partial than the bodily assault Fried claims for the Minimal object. While Cornell's boxes contain objects of 'affluence and cruelty, of secrecy and panoply'50 also found in Samaras'swork, they do not intrude on my viewing position. With their do Cornell's boxes immediate tableaux contained, safely not pose any surreal threat to me and, whilst they might effect me psychically, the danger is never explicit, unlike the violently real aspect of Samaras's knives and pins that press into me, damaging my hands and eyes. It is not, then an all-over bodily threat, but a more partial, bodily attack that Samaras stages. His boxes threaten a violent assault on the eye or the hand. There is a danger in the placement of the pins that promise to pierce the eye, just Box N6.48 knives it; danger jutting threaten to the of also puncture or slash a as fingers harm hand handles in to the that the the of potential or suggestion echoed box, or probes the inside space. These elements of danger, violence and potential loss structure the viewing conditions of Samaras's boxes, bringing the two poles implied haptic the of and actual violence. the under a shared rubric optic and of The homage to Cornell that Samarasmade for Arts Magazine (111.1.16)is at first glance merely a reproduction of Cornell's 1949-53 Cockatoo: KeepsakeParakeet, box, drawer with a single glass-fronted at the bottom, a predominantly white, containing in the upper section an image of a cockatoo. Over the top of this 'CORNELL" in has Samaras typed uniform rows of eleven across reproduction and sixty-five down. Scanning the page, this appears an odd image, raising the question why has Samaraschosen to repeatedly superimposeCornell's name over the top of one of his boxes? It is only on closer looking that it becomes clear 'CORNELL' is not the only word that appearson the page and that, intersected at has Samaras between Cornell's secreted other words and name, random points dictionary (the Samaras's Webster's from 1936 of year edition of a verbs, selected birth).
Mixing these words up with Cornell's name, Samaras hoped that his
'plucked words would ooze blip and vanish residuing back his name, that is his 51 Samaras in The this order: selected were, words work'.
Conures cradles abludes details untimes cuddles incubes inmasks unveils illumes lockets locules alludes whitens lucents dements replays psyches winnow reduces mirrors cyclics inwoods enmists semines dangles serials gambles windows laments revives gymnics finites thences entraps inhives artizes inhumes inheres unwraps shrouds wizards absents reworks aerates empasms addicts travels murmurs inculks silkens 52 immunes repeats endures abducts SCUIPtS.
As the eye wanders across the lines, focusing in and out, drifting and scanning, peering and staring, these 'hidden' words haunt the page, surging forward and blurring indistinctly; some are easily picked out, others instead 'ooze blip and vanish', painting a word-portrait of Cornell that, for Samaras 'is' his work. 'Inmasks' and 'unveils';
and 'lockets'; 'entraps' and 'winnows';
'unwraps' and 'shrouds', 'absents' and 'repeats'; 'endures' and 'abducts': Samarashas built up a portrait of Cornell through a list of words that oppose, dispel feverish list each other, and a with of words hoarded up and compete secretedwithin the very structure of Cornell's work. As we pull back and look from a more comfortable, relaxed distance from the page, the concealed words fall away, 'residuing back' Cornell's name, so something of that active, violently-charged mode of looking is lost. Samaras's initial choice was not to list words in this manner, but to 'chisel' them into 'everybody's eyeballs'.53 He wanted to stage a physical encounter, to score the image into the eye. Lacking the 'power' to perform such a visceral act, he was left only with language, a poor substitute for the model of looking Samaraswants to emulate in his 'portrait' of Cornell. I argue that this portrait is less Samaras's homage to the master of whimsy and surreal narrative, than a reading of Cornell's work that is shot through with Samaras'sown interests in relation to the box and in the dynamics of looking.
51Ibid., p. 45. 52Ibid., p. 46. 53Samaras,'Dissection of Seeing', op.cit., p. 26.
This 'portrait 9 of Cornell is another of Samaras's 'hundreds of surfaces', a web of dazzling light, though the as a object ray of over what he calls in words cast 54 fluid 'a An excess of language, shotcoating of matter'. another context through with light and luminosity ('whitens'
'windows') that conceals the object beneath even as it seeksto bring it into focus. Instead of constructing a box-homage or portrait of Cornell, Samarashas chosen to fill in the blank where we might expect a three-dimensional object to be with text.
A veil of words is pulled over the object, enveloped within language,
although sculpture ('sculpts') has, quite literally, the last word. Cutting into the instead 'CORNELL' literal for that are verbal of or equivalents serial repetition Samaras, sum up both Cornell and Comell's boxes. This, in turn, serves as a model for how to think about Samaras's own small-scale boxes in relation to the problems of describing the visceral, haptic mode of experiencing and 'seeing' homage Samaras In Cornell, in which Samaras this to that proposes. sculpture uses language to invoke touch and a two-dimensional page to suggest a threedimensional object, a confusion of registers is activated that finds Samaras's Comell's. Samaras has Cornell that taken superimposed upon of strategy working ton', as it were, letting his Cockatoo-Keepsake Parakeet inhabit his own work, in this instance, a word, not box-homage, to Cornell's own box constructions. Lawrence Alloway describesthe mode of looking that Samaras'sboxes engender as that of 'peering, demanding an intimate, almost voyeuristic engagementwith the small scale of his 'fundamentally, labyrinthine' boxes that 'forces us to draw close'.
SusanStewart has claimed,
[t]he 'of many worlds in this world' dimension of microscopic, tiny, and miniature objects suggests hiding and uncovering at once, a voyeurism where one might be recognised or caught out - or even, perhaps in for the pleasure of seeing what cannot or should not be seen, punishment 56 blinded.
Ibid. 55Alloway, op.cit., p. 16. 56SusanStewartand Ralph Rugoff, At The 77iresholdof the Visible: Minisculeand Small-Scale Art 1964-1996,New York, 1996,p. 70.
This addsa libidinised aspectto the intimacy of the spectatorialgaze,a kind of know be desire to the than more can revealed. up within caught voracity of vision In her book On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection (1993) Stewartexploreshow we approachand respondto objects implications for in different to the attendant subjectivity, relation scale of 57 Referring issues to touch. and ownership, mastery vision and of addressing GastonBachelard'saccountof the homein his 1964book ThePoeticsof Space, Stewartbroachesthe problemof languageanddescriptionin relationto describing it limit the that always entails exceeding of what that claiming objects, small in describe Bachelard to the claimed any attempt miniature object may reveal. 58 description', detail involves a 'verbosenessof which Stewartclaims is a matter 59 A 'everything is 'count". to where made significance, of multiplying in description and attention only exhaustion,the object can result proliferationof itself cannot be describedsatisfactorily. What occurs is a situation whereby 60 bounds 'significancebursts the of the physical structure'. It is exactly this beads, it be knives, birds 'significance', whether wool, stuffed or pins, welter of finds its boxes Samaras's fills the and which centres that of surfaces and 'Cornell his Size'. Cornell in his in treatment of article counterpart In a 1976 article for Artforum, 'Notes on Small Sculpture', Carter Ratcliff had issue the of scale, emphasising small sculpture's obsessive, also addressed delicately 'precious' quality, rather than its potentially damaging, threatening Small intimate, demand tactile, that encounter. even sculpture, wrote an qualities Ratcliff, is typically understood as connoting luxury, privilege 'and even 61which he likens to Samaras's work, although he attributes Samaras's ' secrecy, holds Lucas 'often Samaras's 'kind that art to obsessiveness' of scale a
37 Susan Stewart, On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, Durham and London, 1993. 58Gaston Bachelard, as quoted in Ibid, p. 47. 59Ibid.
60Ibid, p. 63. 61Carter Ratcliff, 'Notes on Small Sculpture', Artforum, April 1976, pp 35-42, p. 35. In this . his 'House' C. Westermann, H. discusses Ratcliff the specifically series of of work also article boxes, peopled with objects and people that are visible only when then roof wooden small works; is lifted, or if the window is peered through. For a detailed discussion of H. C. Westermann's work, seechapter three.
although Samaras is adamant that his work is far from obsessive,
intricate his he scale and surfaces are about attempting to small contends rather 63 'compulsiveness'. Toward the end of the article Ratcliff &control' not about 64 'always implicitly large those
public sculpture" whilst
'imply small-scale objects ultimately personalenvironments, with artistsworking so portable and domestic that even the community we call the art world is 65 sometimesexcluded'. Robert Morris had already published an article on small-scale objects ten years in his 'Notes Sculpture (1966), Artforum Part One' Ratcliff's than piece, on earlier drawing a distinction not between public and private but between the different large-scale in and objects occupy space. small which ways unlike Ratcliff's,
emphasises the threatening nature of the small-scale object, its
large Morris its that, to surroundings. argued spatial as opposed encroaching upon scale 'monumental'
sculptures, that demand one respond to them spatially, in
'space does body [ ] to size, with small-scale objects, not exist. one's relation ... The smaller the object the closer one approaches it and, therefore, it has 66 field for in That less the to viewer'. a spatial exist of which correspondingly of the small-scale sculpture, claims Morris, 'is essentially 67 Morris' description is similar to closed, spaceless, compressed, and exclusive'. 'intimate'
Sainaras's own claim one year later that viewing an object close up and drawing it into 'the center of your consciousness', ultimately leaves 'no distance between it feeling I living 'a in that to threeam stifling, suffocating not giving rise you', and dimensional space with plenty of room, but in one which is smack flat two68 dimensional'
In a later essay about small sculpture, Stewart echoed Robert Morris' claims of 'intimacy' for small-scale works and Samaras's more uncomfortable description 'small bring the she wrote objects may constricting, when unbearably as of space 62 Ibid. 63 Lucas Samaras, in conversation 64 Ibid.
with the author, New York,
65Ibid, p. 42.
66 Robert Morris, 67 Ibid.
'Note on Sculpture
Part One', 
op. cit., p. 231
68Samaras, 'An Exploratory Dissection of Seeing', op. cit., p. 27.
69 intimacy'. In Stewart On Longing, into unreadable, a nearlyunbearable, viewer dollhouse, The dollhouse, the as of a object. an example miniature child's cites Stewart claims, is an example of 'profound interiority', which is 70 'unrecoverable'. By claiming that interiority is 'unrecoverable'Stewart is (one 'locket', to the secrecy compares of space of which she out a mapping Samaras'swordstuckedinto his word-portraitof Cornell), as a secrettrappedand 71 is 'a dollhouse, Stewart The writes, materializedsecret'. concealed. I want to pause now over another homage of sorts, another word-portrait, this time Mel Bochner, Samaras's but by Samaras, completed year one after artist not Comell. of portrait-homage
Part of a series of word-portraits Bochner completed
from Portrait (Ill. 1.17) 1966 list Wrap: Eva Hesse friends, his spirals a of artist of 'wrap'. one central word, of words and verbs around
Bochner scrolls round the
bury, 'conceal, listing up, secrete, obscure, vanish, ensconce, wrap cloak, spiral, 72 disguise, camouflage using a language of secrecy to build up a 'portrait' of Hesse. Just as Samaras had built up a portrait that he claimed described both Comell and his work, so Bochner's portrait of Hesse reads also as a portrait of her is, that an account of the process of concealment and wrapping that she work, deploys, as well as a portrait describing herself. Although Hesse's often quotedclaim
all so personal ... Aft
73Anne Wagner has
and art and life
quite rightly pointed out that Hesse's belief in the
69Stewart and Rugoff, op.cit., p. 79. 70Ibid., p. 44. 71Ibid., p. 61. 72Lippard, op. cit, p. 204. The full list of words Bochner spirals around are: WRAPUP.SECRETE.CLOAK. BLIRY. OBSCURE.VANISH. ENSCONSE.DISGUISE. CONCEAL. CAMOUFLAGE. CONFINE. LIMIT. ENTOMB. ENSACK. BAG. CONCEAL. HIDE. BEDGE-IN. CIRCUMCINTURE. SKIN. CRUST.ENCIRCLEMENT. CINTLTRE.RINGED. CASING. VENEER. SHELL. HULLL. SHELL. COVER-UP. FACING. BLANKET. TAPE. MUMMIFY. COAT. CHINCH. TIE-UP. BIND. INTERLOCK. SPLICE.GIRD. GIRT. BELT. BAND. STRAP.LACE. WIRE. CABLE. CHAIN. STRING. CORD.ROPE.LACE. TIE. BIND. TIE. TRUSS.LASH. LEASH. ENWRAP. COIL. TWINE. INTERTWINE. BUNDLE-UP. SHROUD.BANDAGE. SHEATH. SWADDLE, ENVELOPE. SURROUND. SWATHE. ENWRAP-COVER. WRAP. WRAP. 73Eva Hesse, as quoted in Cindy Nemser, 'An Interview with Eva Hesse', , reprinted in Armstrong and Marshall eds., The New Sculpture 1965-75: Between Geometry and Gesture, New York, 1990, p. 196.
74 life her is 'as art and much a cultural artefactas any other'. It is instead unity of the processesof camouflage,obscurity and burial employedin Hesse'sworking practice that Bochner's portrait addresses,detailing exactly the languageof secrecyandconcealmentat work in Samaras'sboxes. Words, for Samaras, always fall short of description.
One word, he writes, stands
for many images, and, unlike those images, they do not have the power to 'grow 75 be 4 Language and words are they cannot or constantly transform', mutilated'. instead, 'a crystallization, a corralling, a filing system [ ] meaning arises and ... 76 fixed, hardened kernels. The processes of though as slowly, materializes wrapping, secreting, concealing and swathing that Bochner spirals around in his portrait of Hesse point also to this process of fixation 'swaddling'
of Hesses' sculpture finds echoes in Samaras's
boxes, 'lockets', Cornell's that 'inmasks', as of portrait description his in own and
'enmists' and 'shrouds'
of his work in terms of binding
his in to performative works on film where he would tightly relation specifically in leave his head their red marks of wool, strands which when removed wrap forehead. I want to take both Samaras and Bochner at their his cheeks and across fossilisation here, language in this to think about of relation to sculptural word practice.
I want to imagine what kind of strategiesSamarasand Hessemight be engagedin, specifically in relation to the series of small-scale plaster and papier-macheboxes they both constructed during the sixties. Returning to the beginning of Samaras's box production and the kernel of his artistic practice, I will trace a kind of origin story, then, of his box. It is in these earliest boxes that the kernel of Samaras's is blockage the clearly stated, most and resistanceof the later boxes, with project their attendant temporal delays, removable sections, hidden compartments and concealed areas. These effects find their explicit embodiment in these early have into boxes impenetrable shells or cocoons. that solidified plaster
74Anne Wagner, Yhree Artists (Three Women) Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner and O'Keefe, California, 1998, p. 203. 75Sarnaras, Dissection of Seeing, op. cit., p. 26. 76Ibid.
Samaras's earliest works were shown at the Reuben Gallery in 1960, where his found, cheap and disposable materials was shared by rubbish, use of ephemera, other Reuben artists such as Allan Kaprow, Robert Whitman, Jim Dine, George Segal and Claes Oldenburg. His work incorporated strips of fabric soaked in into figurines, semi-abstract and moulded small found boxes coated in plaster in string, and those sculpmetal wall pieces with knives and and wrapped plaster pins stuck to the rough surface that Judd described as 'mental, and sometimes described Samaras's work at this time as 'an exploration Alloway actual, cacti'. 77 in he 'what the textures waste', urban of which used materials were of 78 It is in these early wood and plaster boxes that Samarasfirst sought available'. to problematise the 'box' as both formal structure and container. In his later boxes, he continued this project, but with a more precise, colourful palette similar to the abstract pastels he was making at the same time. The aggressivity and inaccessibility of his later boxes, with their pin-strewn surfaces,dangerouscentres and multi-layered sections are prefigured in these earliest works of Samaras, inside first issues and outside, access of and refusal were raised. where Samaras was not only constructing boxes at this time.
Alongside his various
boxes, ranging from pin or yam-covered reclaimed jewellery
boxes to crude
wooden ones stuffed with plaster and crepe-paper, Samaras's activities varied.
his three dimensional
structures, to his pastel works,
Happenings he participated in, his semi-abstract plaster dolls and his 1969 film 79 1 Samaras's Sev New York based the work whole range of spans artistic entitled
Although issue the this sixties. of one might pursue of diversity, I instead practice 77Alloway, op.cit., p. 6. 78 Ibid.
All of the artists associated with the Reuben Gallery at this time were engaged in similar Frojects, in which urban refuse and ephemera were used in the construction of their objects. 9 Self was made with Kim Levin in Spring 1969, and features the artist carrying out many everyday, yet slightly skewed activities, in a repetitive manner. In one scene, Samaras sits at a table eating a meal that consists of his name in letters, scattered about the plate. Issues of devouring, eating, and the psychically charged elements of such motor functions remains a central feature of many of Samaras's practices. His most recent work, (shown at PaceWildenstein in 2001) showed a series of kitchen cutlery bent and twisted, coated in many thick layers of brightly liquid kind feature in the threads that of visceral, echo of multi-coloured a yam paint, coloured many of his box constructions. I saw these works whilst still under construction in the artist's apartment, and their multiplicity, as they covered every available surface enacted that spillage, or stuffing of interior to its limit that his boxes also embody.
Samaras's from to on a single moment; move settle performance-related want
work at the end of the fifties and early sixties, to the small-scale,object-based boxes he first began to construct in 1960.
This moment of transition finds its formal counterpart in the work of Samaras's friend and fellow student, George Segal. Segal's life-size plaster casts of people carrying out everyday tasks stand as white, ghostly anomalies in their tableaux filled with the real objects of their environment, a kind of are which surroundings, haunting of the Pop world from which they are cast. Samaras actually posed for bringing Segal's tableaux, neatly one of
together his interest in the theatre,
body the with that of the relative solidity and permanence of and performance form he was to adopt and contract soon after, in the series of a sculpture, plaster small-scale
boxes and figurines.
scene whilst studying under the tutelage of artist Allan Kaprow at
Rutgers University, New Jersey. Samaras's interest in acting developed during his time at Rutgers, where he participated in a number of performances staged by Claes Oldenburg, as well as many Happenings organised by Kaprow, although he Kaprow's Happenings, which Samaras found 80 dressed 'less organic and up than Oldenburg' S., The Happening had marked a
preferred Oldenburg's events664
shift in the kind of encounter art could produce, although for Samaras, Kaprow's Happenings were less 'transformative'
than Oldenburgs, which were more than 81 My interest, lies in
in leotard him 'a a girl and on a violin'. simply
from this move public performance to the small-scale, intimate exploring boxes beginning that the mark of a series of small of a fascination containment form Samaras box that to today. the continues preoccupy with Alloway states that the most fruitful way into understanding Samaras's boxes is through examining his earliest pieces, where the 'clues' to the later works are found.82 He writes that Samaras's 'objects are always metaphors, never attributes
soLucas Samaras,in conversation with the author, New York, April 2001. 81Ibid. Oldenburg remembers Samaras as a performer who worked 'very slowly, obsessively, calculatedly [ ... I He developed a certain attitude and a certain set of approches that I could work around. I knew there were certain things I could do with him'. Oldenburg, as quoted in Levin, Lucas Samaras,op.cit-, p. 25. 82Alloway, op.cit., p. 5.
83 ' fixed meanings, quoting Samaras'sclaim that '[t]hings aremorethantheir with 84 is by Alloway, as he claims that a An archaeology of meaning sought names'. backwardtrackingof Samaras'swork will recoverthe buriedcluesto theseboxes, as thoughaccessto their 'centre' is somehowembeddedwithin the earlierworks; the clue to the later piecesalreadythere and waiting to be discovered. Tracing Samaras'sincreasingly 'elaborate' processof working, Alloway seemsto be implying that Samarassoughtto cover over his tracks in order to bury clues in theseearly structures. 2In his early Paper Bag N6.3 (111.1.18),from 1960, Samarasfilled a paper grocery store bag with sheets of scratched mirror pane, alongside several of his pastel works. Kim Levin notes that Samarasonly stopped his scratched mirror pieces when he discovered that H. C. Westermann was also making them. During the had boxes Westermann that were inlaid made a of number wooden sixties early from pane, which he would scratch away areas in order to with sheetsof mirror create a deep field of reflection and deflection. One of these boxes, Channel 37 from 1963, was selected to accompany Judd's review of Westermann's 1963 exhibition at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, New York, one year after Samaras's had Green Gallery Judd in the which also reviewed, and at which Samaras's show Paper Bag N6.3 had also been shown. Although he ceasedusing scratchedpanels of mirror glass, Samarasdid continue to use shardsof mirror in his boxes, as well as small square mirror tiles and reflective aluminiurn foil. Paper Bag N6.3 is a container of secret contents, there is a 'frustration of information withheld, of the secret of the package-of not quite being able to see the paintings inside' that 85 bag, key in Samaras's the to project. As presents,neatly packaged this grocery well as the issues of concealment I have already mentioned, there is also the has liked Samaras 'I that the commented of portability on, claiming notion 86 boxes. I bus'. transportability of the could wrap them up and take them on the
The use of mirror panein Samaraswork was usedto greatesteffect in his later No. 2 (111.1.19), 1966, Room a complex structure which contained room, mirrored 83Ibid. p. 13. 84Lucas Samaras,as quoted in Ibid. 85Levin, Ibid., P. 39. 86Lucas Samaras,Lucas Samaras,New York, 1972, unpaginated.
from table a andchairs,also made mirrors, creatingan effect of eternalmirroring, a kind of containedinfinity. This work also featured mirrored spikes on the interior that demanda viewing position fraughtwith real danger,a large-scalebox that enactsthe threat of his small-scalework in a far more all-over physical assault. Yayoi Kusamawas to also createa mirrored room that sameyear, and has allegedthat Samarascopied hers.87 However, Samarashad alreadyworked with the idea of the room as container in his 1964 installation at the Green Gallery, RoomNo. 1 (111.1.20),althoughfor this room Samarastransplantedhis bedroomfrom his home, completewith bed, light fittings, walls and contents. Bagsof yam, piles of boxes,andthe sheercrammingof objectsthat fill this small interior invoke the room as a large scalebox, yet anothertake on monumental cubic sculpturethat retainsthe formal propertiesof his small-scaleboxes. Samaras's boxes involve a quest to recover the boxes' secrets or 'clues', which demands the viewer adopt the role not only of the archaeologist, but also of the cryptographer.
Levin describes the 'constant competition between
concealing and revealing, between hiding and showing, covering and exposing, 88 folding filling and unfolding, and emptying' that plays out opening and closing, across Samaras's boxes. In a 1969 article 'Samaras Bound', Kim Levin quotes Samaras talking about his working process, in which he invokes notions of secrecyand concealment: It is all extremely ordered, deliberately elusive, deviously haphazard. Everything is hidden; everything is revealed.89 A process of concealment is suggested here, but as revelation. The veiling, layering and obfuscation involved in his work is a conscious process,employed in be discovered, that a secret may eventually and suggesting that certain order processesand 'rites' must be performed before one may accessthat centre. It is the edginess of Samaras's interplay of conceal-reveal that rivets our attention in the complex multi-layered and decoratedboxes. However partial and fragmented, 87See Laura Hoptman, Akira Tateha and Udo Kultermann, Yayoi Kusama, London, 2000, p. 13637. 88Levin, op.cit, p. 33. 89Kim Levin, 'Samaras Bound', ARTnews, vol. 67, no. 10, February, 1969, pp. 35-37 and 54 and 56, p. 56.
the careful looking and certain amount of risk to one's body does reward the hidden to the various concealed and compartments of these access with spectator boxes. Whilst 'everything is hidden', touching, opening, turning over and pulling does reveal previously unseencontents. When Samarasclaims 'everything is hidden; everything is revealed', however, he is pointing to another, less accessibleaspect of his boxes. What he is suggesting is that, through the layers of concealment and coating, what is demonstrated,or 'revealed' is that strategy of concealment. In his earlier plaster boxes, however, the situation is much less balanced. It is not the border between revealing and boxes instead desire damage' 'to the to takes these that rest on, erase, concealing 90 balance between 'the impulse Rather the two, to than an uneasy strike over. 91 is form of concealment'. conceal usually wins out: effacing the most extreme In his early boxes, rather than simply
Samaras instead halts the spectator in their tracks. 'irretrievable'
It would seem that the
is somehow figured through that very process of effacement and
declaration is in It the of secrecy or concealment that the crux of these erasure. boxes is located, rather than the display of what that secret centre is. Unable to boxes describes 'fixed Levin these early plaster-encrusted as close, or open either 92 ' or, in the words of Samaras, the point of yet potentially explosive containers, 93 'IMPENETRABILITY'. boxes is
Rather than trace a simplistic history or lineage for Samaras's boxes, I want to focus on the 'impenetrability' of his plaster boxes, in order to stage an encounter between his work and that of Eva Hesse. Hesse, the same age as Samaras,was involved with the Minimal and, more obviously, Post-minimal or Process art delighted fellow late Hesse during the to was when sculptor mid sixties. produced Paul Thek compared her work with Samaras in 1966, as she was drawn to his
90Levin, Lucas Samaras, op. cit., p. 33. 91Ibid. 92
Ibid., p. 26. 93LucasSamaras'Statement',in Alloway, op.cit., p. 39.
'combinationof eccentricity,eroticismand humour'.
After seeingBox No.3 on
in later, Museum American Art, New York 1967, Whitney the of one year show at Eva Hessewrote in her notebooks I beautiful Samaras (2 inferior ones)... a box covered with pins. Cover slightly ajar with bird's head forcing its way out from under cover. Old cords and ropes dropping out from front. The 95 in
a plexiglas case.
Hesse is drawn here to the eclectic, busy surfaces and interiors of Samaras's slightly later works, particularly the one 'covered in pins' with the 'old cords and from front. However, it first boxes dropping the that the seems set of out' ropes in (El. herself (111.1.21) 1967, Inside 1 Inside II to early and construct she was 1.22), were inspired not by the boxes on show at the Whitney, but instead by a less well-known set of untitled boxes Samarashad made in 1960 and 1961, those filled boxes dried found wooden with strips of plaster soaked cloth and small, discuss later I shades of silver, and white, grey which will monochrome painted These had first been in New York in detail. in early works exhibited some on 1960 in the 'New Forms-New Media' show at the Martha Jackson Gallery, and in 1961, in Samaras's first one-man show at the Green Gallery. One was also by for MoMA inclusion in their blockbuster show of the same in 1961 purchased in by both Westermann Assemblage', 'Art which works and Lee Bontecou of year have Hesse doubt included, seen. and which no would were also Although by 1967 the box was already an established form within Minimalist identified in Samaras's less Hesse work a rather structured, geometric circles, drawn humour Samaras's Whilst to the quirky and sadistic element of approach. however, Hesse Minimal in boxes the elements of several retained pin covered important ways.
It was in the fall of 1967 that Hesse employed external
fabricators for the first time, sending instructions to Arco Metals in downtown Manhattan for a galvanised steel box that was to become the first piece in her
94Lucy Lippard, Eva Hesse, New York, 1993, p. 197. The work Hesse was referring to was Samaras'sBox No. 3. The trailing of cords, that seek to drag the viewers eye down and away from the pedestal has strong formal connections with several of Hesse's own works, for example Addendum (1967), and Laocoon (1966), which I return to later on in this chapter. 95Eva Hesse,as quoted in Ibid.
Accession (Ill. 1.23) boxes. Each later, version well-known series of more slightly had perforated surfaces punctuated at regular intervals so that Hesse could thread short sections of rubber tubing through the holes to create a spiky interior, as though a bristly or hairy box, a time-consuming practice that took Hesse until January 1968 to finish threading. A second version had to be made the following first destroyed by inside, in the the people climbing material after was same year literally by invitation it to touch taken too the the was up rather seems when spectators. In 1968 Accession III, IV and V were all fabricated at the Aegis factory, with Accession Iff
from fibreglass milky white and clear sections of rubber made
tubing, whilst Accession IV and Accession V were much smaller pieces, standing Accession Hesse five boxes height I. in the third of made variously-sized of a at the Accession series, ranging from the large-scale ones that rested directly on the floor, reaching the waist height of the viewer, to the much smaller ones that formally bear a similarity to Samaras's boxes such as Box N6.11 (111.1.24)from 1963, a similarity Robert Smithson also picked up on in 1966, when he compared 96 Samarasand Hesses' working strategies. The trailing strands of yam and coils of ropes spewing from the middle of Samaras'sBox No.3 find their double in the loosely strewn pile of rope and cords in I, Inside bottom Hesse's the trussed-up are again the repeated which of at her II. The in Inside into the chaotic, random way centre of objects crammed loosen bind, the and restrict these works, serves also cords rope, yam and which to link them. Alongside their mutual choice of colour, form and scale in these boxes, what brings Hesse and Samaras'sboxes together most interestingly, is the focus each places, or displaces, onto (or into) their boxes' centres. Although in these small, roughly hewn containers both Hesse and Samarasare keen to cover interior, in Accession box's in the the case of and some way over, or obscure Samaras'sBox No.3, they each go about concealing the box structure in different ways. Whilst Samarascovers his exterior surfacesto an almost excessive extent,
96RobertSmithson,'Quasi-Infinities andtheWaningof Space',op.cit. I returnto Smithson's articlelateron in thischapter. 66
the fabricationandstructureof Accessionis clearly visible in Hesse'scase,where insteadall interestis focusedinward, wherethe rubberybristlesarefound. It is perhapsthis difference that Lucy Lippard was referring to when she described the difference between Samaras and Hesse's working strategies. Lippard wrote that, whilst Samaras'swork 'is usually focused in upon himself, Hesseworked out from a body identification into a physical identification with the sculpture itself, 97 herself her life' If as though creating a counterpart of and the absurdity of . Samaraswas aware of the process of introspection in his work, then, Lippard is claiming, for Hesse it was an unconscious, almost reparative process aimed toward obtaining greater security and self-awareness. That Lippard considers Samaras's work to be focused 'inside', whilst Hesse's is about exterior identifications only highlights what is at stake in these boxes, that is, issues of interiority, secrecy and concealment, without providing any kind of useful binary distinction through which to think about them.
What Samarasand Hessesharein their deploymentand exploration of the box Both interested is in impenetrability;which of resistance. are a process structure 98 for Hesse always had a streak of what she called absurdity or nonsense. Reading 'into' the works-for psychological empathies-is
biographical references,symbolic effects, bodily or 99 It is the the neither point nor a possibility.
97Lippard, op.cit., p. 197. 98Ibid. Lippard cites several occasions in which Hesse pointed to what she considered the absurd quality of her sculptures. 99Many writers have sought to retrieve Hesse'sbiography from her works, for example the early trawling through her diaries by Robert Pincus-Witten shortly after her death, from which he published sections connecting her personal life with the objects she was making at the same time. The previous retrospective of Hesse's work in 1992, before Elizabeth Sussman's recent show in San Francisco, sought to inscribe 'Hesse' within her work in relation to her femininity and life Anna In Chave's article in the accompanying catalogue posited Hesse as particular, experiences. 'wound', referring to her illness, the death of her father and, even, the Nazi concentration camp, in her interpretation of Hesses' work. Other essaysin the catalogue shared in Chaves' project. See Helen Cooper, et al, Eva Hesse: A Retrospective, New Haven, 1992. The recent catalogue accompanying the 2002 Hesse retrospective redressed the balance. In particular, Briony Fer's paper on the work of salvage in Hesses' work, and the processesof layering she employed have shapedmy own account of Hesse's work. See Elisabeth Sussmaned., Eva Hesse, San Francisco, 2002. See also, Anne Wagner, Three Artists (Three Women) Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner and O'Keefe, California, 1998 which deals explicitly with the problem of biography in relation to the Hesse 'myth' that has developed. Wagner takes writers such as Anna Chave to task for creating readings that read Hesse's biography 'into' her work. Mignon Nixon's work on Hesse that proposesthe the idea of the irruptive Kleinian part-object in post-war sculpture also serves as counter to those 'essentialist' accounts of Hesses' work that track biological, or biographical
'nothing to say' aspectof their works that surfacesfrom beneaththe welter of fall Articulating the short. elements apparently symbolic and where material, 'nothing', a structure, or system of secrecy, is the point of theseboxes. Samaras's Untitled (small box) (Ill. 1.25) from 1960 is a small wooden box, from fixed-open base lid. inches This just the to the tip the ten of over measuring crudely-constructed box is stuffed with strips of plaster-soakedcrepe paper mixed with feathers.
The only manipulation of the paper is where the barely
distinguishable features of a face emerge from a formless terrain, with a top layer functions both 'nose' forming that the stripe vertical as a and as a of paper dividing line suggesting eye sockets. The use of abstractedbodily reference is a hangover from the series of plaster figurines Samaraswas moulding at this time, figural is it just the reference so slight only of staves off the suggestion where box, It is is, its the the that total not exterior of external abstraction. of suggestion but been has has Samaras the the that concealed centre, with plaster, which shape, for box hold. that too to the cloth seems almost much stuffed with plaster-soaked Again, the contents threaten to spill out and over down the sides of the wooden box, as an inside only just contained, at the limit of its boundary of 'interior', forcing us to rethink what a 'box' is when its usual role as container is reversed. The feathers caught up and petrified uncomfortable
in the unctuous plaster mass evokes
sensations of a burst pillow,
or sleep ruptured; the thought of
dreaming upon such an object is utterly abject. Although hardened into a solid mass, the centre of this box appears to be soft, as though it will yield to touch, a malleable stuffing
of cr8pe-paper strips.
charged invocations of petrification
these more psychically-
remains, then, an oblique allusion to the
into back inserting box the rhetoric of sixties sculpture this right anthropomorphic, that it seemingly seeks to avoid. For, as critic Max Kozloff pointed out in 1967, 'one thing sculpture is quite simply not allowed to be, if it has any pretensions to 100 is Kozloff explains historical soft'. the mainstream, or any claim to necessity, that the defining
feature that has traditionally
that sculpture is
her ' October, in 'Posing Phallus, 92, her the to and working strategies no. work connections Spring2000,pp. 99-127. 100Max Kozloff, 'The Poetics of Softness', American Sculpture of the Sixties, California, 1967, p. 26.
'sculpture' and not something else, is its hardness and refusal to yield. That body, 'soft' in is the or some way elastic maintains an element of an which looms its that the over work of art, undoing status as anthropomorphism abstract 6sculpture'.
In Untitled (Ill. 1.26) from 1960, we see that the plaster has not been used as the method by which the artist achieves a mode of representation,whether mimetic or device, is, intermediary from form is that the as usual process which abstract, but has instead been 'take has It to cast, allowed over'. or not been moulded, but simply applied, roughly distributed as a mass of 'stuff, of cast, sculpted or barely-contained 'content'. The edges and joins of the strips of paper are clearly visible in the finished box, lending it the appearanceof a mummified form. Hesse's Inside I is a small open box covered in layers of papier-mach6 that also leave a surface punctuated with traces of the artist's hand; rough patches of random pressure and application that the dried paper retains. The bodily trace here, however, emphasisesthe materiality of the papier-mache, rather than the Hesse's hand. bottom box lies At the the that of presence very of and contours ball of tangled wires, or threads that rest, as though in an exhausted pile in the dark interior of the box. Inside II, the smalller box, contains two odd, misshapen forms, wrapped in cords and threads that have been painted over, reminiscent of the small rock that Samarasdisplays in his studio, that has been 'banded' in wool is layers the the rock concealed and only of wrapped string and string until and 101 wool on show. The titles Hesse gives these boxes refer one literally to the interior space of the is 'inside' keen located draw to to, that so she attention one's at those points work, of opacity, or ambivalence in terms of what one may come to know or find out due being insides, in to their those covered with paint, wrapped cord, or about 101The small work spacethat Samaras's has in his apartment is filled to the limits with bottles of beads,jars or glass fragments and balls of wool alongside his painting materials and work bench strewn with tools and oddments. This wrapped object on his shelf stands out as an object clearly not useful to the making of other works; it is not a tool or container, but rather a curious thing that sits in the shelf as though talisman or reminder. Samarasacknowledged that this object in many his In conversation with the author, New York, April many of sculptural concerns. embodies ways 2001.
Samaras's in engagementwith the interiority of the box involves coated paper. refusing the spectator access to the insides of his plaster boxes through an large 'filling', to those similar of objects in Inside Il. He has filled and abundance insides his boxes the to such an exaggerated state that they of over covered threaten to overflow and devour them, to spill over into the realm of 'exterior'.
Wrapping, covering over, bandaging, hiding and concealing are actual processes that both Samarasand Hesse employed in their strategies of resistance in these boxes, that find their analogue in the viewing conditions they each stage. In each of Hesse's works, the issue of concealment is dealt with in different ways. In Inside I the box is not filled with the painted wires, rather, they are discovered at the bottom of the box, lurking in the darkness as if they have collapsed to the floor, fallen from a previously vertical and taut position to one of a confused and inside in the tangle of the box. With Inside I!, the paper, paint and cordobscure fill box desire the to though to cover the a much extent, objects greater as wrapped lumpy has intensified Inside Their indistinguishable forms fill L since or are over, like the rough bulges frozen in the process of spilling out of control from the Untitled (small box) Untitled. Samaras's and centre of Discussing his interest in layering and wrapping in a 1984 interview, which took place in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Samaras chose the Egyptian part of the his favourite as spot. museum
When asked what he thought of the display
fill fact '[e]verywhere that the the that and shelves room, of we turn there cabinets 102 ? Samaras replies that they are 'a metaphor are cases within cases within cases' for everything in a way [... ] Nothing is unprotected. Layering is a part of life. 103 It is the mummies that Samaras is keen to visit, claiming '[flhere's a magnificent mummy somewhere around here. The wrapping is absolutely fantastic [ ... ] It' s ' 04 different layers. if He is drawn they to as were peeling apart, revealing almost the mummies that have been given sculpted faces, or 'masks, as '[m]asking 105 What is interesting important thing'. this interview is the
102Douglas Blau, 'Shiftings: Things Beside Himself, Lucas Samaras: Chairs, Heads, Panoramas, New York, 1984, p. 2. 103
Ibid, p. 5. 104 Ibid, p. 3. 105 lbid, p. 6.
that Samarasinsistently returns to the mummies and those processesof wrapping and masking over that have been carried out in order to protect the concealed bodies inside. Rather than think about the 'face' Samarasincluded in the plaster box from 1960 as complicating that process of abstract, amorphous moulding, as a kind of left-over trace of his earlier more figurative work, it may be cast instead in terms of its being 'mask-like', that is, as one more wrapping, one more fold or layer applied in the processof concealment. This invocation of the mummy suggests a return to an archaic past, both establishing a prehistory for Samaras's work and an archaeological language for thinking about his work: Samarascasts himself as artist-archaeologist here. The working procedure of the archaeologist, of recovery and revealing, that Alloway into 'fruitful' Samaras's work is, however, inverted through way suggestedas a Samaras's process, frustrated at every stage by the wrapping, plastering over and burial of content that his works enact. The prehistory of his boxes has been cut layering his and camouflage suggesting an anxious delaying of of procedure off, the moment of stripping bare, or discovery.
The same year that Hesse made Inside I and Inside 11, Robert Smithson 106 her 'vertiginous dismal' work's and wonderfully nature. In his commented on article 'Quasi-Infinities and the Waning of Space', published in the November issue of Arts Magazine, Smithson clustered together the art of Hesse alongside Samaras,claiming that their work sharesa 'condition of time that originates inside isolated objects rather than outside'. 107The work of Hesse's that he illustrates the piece with is Laocoon (111.1.27),the wire and plastic trellis piece coated in papiermach6 and cloth-covered wire. Samaras's 1963 Box No. 11 is also depicted, that box covered in swirls and coils of coloured yam, stuck to the exterior in a bristling tightly surface of coiled of wool and all over with whorls continuous hundredsof shiny pins, pushed into the sides and lid.
RobertSmithson,op.cit., p. 34. 107 Ibid.
Smithson described Hesse's Laocoon as 'mummified', with 'wires that extend 108 'dereliction'. frameworks' from tightly wrapped creating a general effect of The coils of papier-mach6 covered wires wrap around the structure, and 'some are 109 What interests to an empty center'. me about reveal only open, cracked Smithson's article is not so much that he brackets Samarasand Hesse together, but rather the language he employs in describing both Laocoon and Samaras's Smithson wrote that Samaras 'made 'models' of tombs and 110invoking a sense of those objects' position as 'static', tomb-like monuments', jewel Samaras's Although Smithson 'detemporalized"ll. one of reproduces and
impulse his I illustrate boxes to entomb or that the to suggest point, would and pin to encrypt is played out far more decisively in his earlier plaster boxes.
It is this senseof the objectsrepresentinga 'waning of space'that I am translating here to a languageof silenceand secrecy. This, for Smithsonsignalsa deathly described boundaries, Samaras these as objects' what spatial encroachmentupon 112 'suffocating' and Morris, in his writing on small sculpture,as 'spaceless'and 113 'compressed'. As though crypts, or mausoleumsof space,the exclusivity of theseobjects,as intimate and timelessis bound up with the suggestionthat the from has been by 'waned', but has them, the wires, wrenched simply not space is hardened It that them. this sharedaspectof entomb plaster and ropes,cords their work, rather than Smithson'ssenseof a dystopianvision, that Hessedraws from Samaras'sboxes. As early as 1954, Samarashad been drawing boxes. In his Untitled (Ill. 1.28) jewelhas depicted is is it detailed box Samaras the nor not rigid, a sketch instead in is Samaras What the this and subverts sketch explores object. encrusted box be kind box. The to the of appears under some structure of underlying by it. The 'warped' it has been the though space around external pressure, as lids don't fit, like it, Samaras that this and others with made sketch, and sameyear Waldman in Art News Diane half-crumpled the about wrote sides, squashed, 108Ibid, p. 36. 109Ibid.
110Ibid, p. 37. 111Ibid, p. 34. 112Samaras,'Dissection of Seeing', op.cit., p. 27. 113B attcock, op.cit., p. 23 1.
114 his boxes 'reinforce'. Waldenis describingthe surface 'thinnessof space'that by Samaras's pin, yam and razor strewnsurfacesin which there effectsgenerated is 'little concern', shewrites, for the 'box as a structurewhich occupiesreal, i.e. 115 ' Walden is 'twotrying to the pick up on what she considers space. measurable dimensional' aspectthat Samaras'ssurfacesoffer, unlike Cornell's retention of the conditionsandformal stricturesof the box's structure. In 1967 and 1968, Hesse also produced a number of two-dimensional images of boxes. Two works entitled Accession (111.1.29and Ill. 1.30) are sketchy, close-up details of the inside comers of boxes, although the lines are not straight, nor the Neither Samarasnor Hesse's drawings of boxes could be true. perspective quite described as working drawings, or even preparatory sketches;rather they seem to be probing the structural form of the box, squashing,sketching, flattening out and focusing in on its linear contours.
Hesse's drawings tend to be exhibited
boxes, her Accession series of which, as we have seen were, unlike her alongside I larger, Inside I!, hand-moulded and pre-fabricated metal structures, pierced small holes Hesse lengths hundreds through threaded uniform which short of of with rubber tubing.
In a way, the Accession boxes are the logical conclusion of
Samaras's pins for Hesse, made, as they were, the same year that she saw his boxes at the Whitney, and just after she made Inside I and Inside 11. Although these smaller, slightly earlier boxes Inside I and Inside II tend to be treated as 'test pieces' rather than fully-fledged works in their own right, I suggest that these two boxes function in a similar way to Samaras'searly plaster boxes, as initial explorations into the box as viable container and artistic form. They are not simply test pieces-roughly
constructed, unsuccessful models, or practice runs
demonstrate literal formal instead through those a working of with materials-but issues, of inside and out, access and refusal, touch and vision, that the box engenders.
Neither Hesse nor Samaras's 'warped boxes' resemble their
contemporaneous working practice.
Instead, in both Hesse and Samaras's
114Diane Waldman, 'Samaras:Reliquaries for St. Sade', Art News, vol. 65, October 1966, pp. 4446 and 72-75, p. 75. 115 Ibid.
drawings, the 'box' is pared down and only its structure, not its decoration, is addressed.
Although many sculptors make drawings after a work's realisation in threedimensions in order to work through still unresolved issues of the final piece, or done, in Hesse's of work case,these drawings of boxes are as a record sometimes clearly designed to fulfil a need other than the working out or resolution of a formal problem. Their skewed perspective and crumpled, deflated sides are a far cry from the bristly-busy surfaces of Accession and the fixed, moulded sides of Inside I and 1I. What her close-up depictions of crooked comers and skewed demonstrate is far from box is fixed category for that the sketches a perspectival Hesse, and that, within the confines of its precise geometry, there is room for confusion and a loosening of its strictures. Scott Rothkopf describes Hesse's drawings in terms of their negotiation of the anxieties attached to the rigid (for the which read 'Minimalist') structure, writing that her cubic of angularity 'distorted perspective and line warp her otherwise nearly perfect construction'. 116 Rothkopf suggests a wilful reconfiguration of the geometric which, enacted through, or on the site of the box itself, points to what 'troubled' Hesse most about these boxes; that she didn't want her final work to be 'too right'. Hessedid not want the box form to be so fixed and controlled, but to complicate what we thought we knew about the box by radically altering or 'warping' our perspective "' it. on The sides of Samaras'swarped box fold in upon themselves,as though caving in from that outside space Smithson describes in temporal terms the pressure under as 'static', as though spacewere being sucked away. The pressuresunder which the box is put finds echoes in other areas of Samaras's practice.
instances, he ensnaresviewers through visual tricks, using mirrors so that insides become outsides. For example, in Box N6.4 (Ill. 1.31) from 1963, two side panels fragments has been their that to underside covered with of mirror pane open reveal that refuse to reflect anything in its entirety, throwing back only a cut-up, displaced series of partial reflections. Disrupting our sense of place and 'self' 116Scott Rothkopf, 'Accession', in Eva Hesse, (2002), op. cit., p. 214. 117Ibid.
through this slicing up of our image, the shardsof mirror serve also to displace the box's own unity and centre, opening up and outward, revealing its interior not as interface between inside and out, but as deflecting screen of fragmentation and disruption, that throws its interior out, away from the box into the exterior space the panels open or 'cut' into.
In 1966, one year later, another page from Samaras's sketch book shows a number of drafted box forms and permutations on various cubic structures (111.1.32). These minute sketchesfill the page, dotted about in a random fashion. Featuring boxes with lids open, closed cubes, diamond-shaped containers, L-shaped forms for his found here, many of working practices are sometimes slabs, precedents and hatching to emphasisethree-dimensionality, with others no more with sketched-in than a single black outline. Beneath one sketch Samarashas written in tiny block capitals OPEN BOX, at another point on the page he has drawn a brain, with one long hypodermic syringe piercing into the centre of it. The repeatedimage of the from its in Samaras's work, earliest appearancesas the straightened-out needle from Untitled, to the many needles he placed inside boxes out safety pin sticking he his fairly hundreds typically the sharp of pins pierced surfaces with, seems and figured here. This is simply an example of Samarasdoodling one of his favourite motifs, a gonzo-style cartoon image that, nevertheless, expressesexplicitly the effect of Samaras'sworks in three-dimensions that I have been exploring in this incision into the viewer's physical and psychic encounter sharp a violent, chapter: with his boxes. Working in three-dimensions, Hesse and Samaras sought to 'camouflage' the boxes, their respective of which they each achieved through very surfaces different means. For Hesse, it was the interior spaceitself that she drew attention to, leaving the external surfaces bare, as it were, with the 'workings' on show. In the case of Accession as well as Inside I and I!, this involved a filling-up of the blocked from inside Samaras Hesse the access out, whereas sought to centre. by is in the that the spectator exactly confuse complicating where centre either first place or halt them in their tracks from the outset. When Lippard pointed to the difference between Samaras's focus on the external and Hesses's on the internal aspects of sculpture, she was establishing a rather sharper difference 75
between the two than I want to sustain. At the core of each of their engagements impossible, desire is box to the stage an uncomfortable, even encounter a with with the box's interior or 'middle'. Rather than Lippard's model of interiority and bodily implicated identifications, it is with a set of empathies and as exteriority the different means through which they each mobilised a tactic of 'encryption' that marks Samara's and Hesse's boxes apart. ***
In this chapter I have tracked the lineage of Samaras'scomplex, elaborately decoratedand filled boxes to their point of origin in 1960, when Samaras These box. boxes, his first 'tombs', Smithson described secret or as constructed them, find their correlatein the psychoanalyticwritings of Nicolas Abrahamand Maria Torok, whosework focuseson issuesof silenceand secrecy,cryptonymy inherited family Abraham Torok, For is haunting. the trauma and secret an or and by inherited be This the subject. could anything,an unspoken unwittingly secret family trauma,a crime that has been committed,or a shamefulsecret,that has drama This is down light. to secret event, situation or passed or come never inherited, in silence as an 'undigested' item held within the subject's mental topographyasan unmarkedtomb of inaccessibleknowledge. This secretbecomes locked inside the unconsciousas a resistantkernel, closed off from everything 'crypt' Torok Abraham and a and Stewart called, in another call else, what ' 18 Wrappedin silence,the unspeakablesecretencrypted 'unrecoverable'. context, forms blockage, blank the a a spacein the psychic apparatus subject within identifiable only through those gaps, omissions, breaks, discontinuities and rupturesin the subject'sspeechandbehaviour. This notion of the 'unrecoverable' was raised by Samaras in an interview with Kim Levin, where he stated 'when I say art is an attempt to recapture the past I lost lost beauties, is to recapture excitement, things that you an attempt art mean 119 lifetime'. An attempt, Samarasimplies, that is doomed always to fail. in lost a Samarashas claimed that 'it is good to look back' to the past, as, by searching in 1'aStewart,OnLonging,op.cit.,p. 103. 119 Bound',op cit.,p. 56. Sarnaras, asquotedin Levin,'Sarnaras 76
the origins of past work and attempting to recover that past and 'see what you did', he seeks 'confirmation' that he 'hadn't committed a crime'. 120 How does is lost? Consigned that to silence, to an which already recapturing go about one absence, those memories, moments and experiences Samaras tries to recall are beyond retrieval, locked away in an inaccessible realm that he admits is not 121 just in Sarnarasis invoking 'they
your mind' . a notion of the detective, someone who sets out to recover, reveal and or artist as archaeologist,
bring to light that which is buried or secreted, a role that finds its double in the 'peering' into box its the to the when who, seeks also retrieve spectator work of secretor meaning. In their joint paper 'The Topography of Reality: Sketching a Metapsychology of Secrets' (1971), Abraham and Torok outline a methodological approach structured around the twin poles of secrecy and silence in relation to the way in bury house family traumas or unwittingly and secretswithin their subjects which Abraham The Torok through structure of secrecy which and unconscious. develop their model of subjectivity goes some way to describing the strategiesof in Wrapped in this chapter. outlined silence, yet concealment and secrecy ý bursting from their containment, Samaras'sboxes operate as a though a secret on the brink of articulation. Just as the subject unconsciously surrounds their speech identifications in shifting and order to stave off the painful with obfuscation layered Samaras impacted the the of secret, so wrapped, piled, and resurgence boxes. these plaster and rag of secretcentres In Samaras's case, his seemingly contradictory aim to uncover lost experiences and moments, to perform the task of an archaeologist recovering past memories, whilst simultaneously engaging with the processesof wrapping and binding that bodies, be him in in fascinate to the relation mummified may reconfigured clearly terms of that processof obfuscation of meaning that conceals the encrypted secret. The process of covering and binding that serves to obscure the object itself is echoed in the artist's writings, where the process of recovery often surfaces. When discussing his use and choices of medium Samaras recognised that 120Lucas Samaras,in conversation with the author, New York, April 2001. 121Samaras,as quoted in Levin, 'SamarasBound', op.cit., p. 56.
'[m]etaphoric meaning could not be totally expungedfrom anything because 122 in However psyche-loadedqualities transposedthemselves all visible things'. hard he tried, 'meaning' could not be totally eradicated from his work, although what that meaning is remains elusive and inaccessible.
The roughly textured, hard surface of Samaras'splaster and Hesse's papier-mach6 boxes and their concealed, or heavily wrapped, guarded content function as secrets,or protective shells; like the wing case of a beetle, the walls of a castle, or a sealed tomb within a crypt.
Oscillating between protection and prevention,
barriers these shell-like stand as guardians of those secretsthat accessand refusal, lie concealed within the box, both in terms of the form itself being covered over and buried beneath a welter of layers of wet plaster or paper, and the wrapped or hidden objects themselvesthat reside within.
I am interested in the move from these plaster boxes to the elaborately structured, intricately worked surfaces and interiors of the later boxes. Just as the Minimal 'look' for Minimal barely a few years before the the strict of structure retained loosening its strictures and developing outside of its rigidly bare and geometric form, so these early boxes also enact that strategy of resistancejust at the point before which they had to yield. The constricting form of the plaster works only just stave off that spillage, as it takes only a drop of water, or a heavy handed thump to crack the shell of Untitled and Untitled (small box), a fragility it is hard to recognise in photographs of the boxes. Between the hardened crypts of the boxes and the later, complex boxes that open and partially accede early plaster boxes the of Samaras enact a process of archaeology, a kind of 'autoaccess, homage' in which his later boxes refer back to those earlier, impenetrable works, in order to establish a route out of, or away from them. With his earliest, wood and plaster boxes Samaras returned to the crudest origins of the box, which he immediately set about filling up with stuff. Just as the plaster and rag dolls he was making at the same time only just retained the impression of the human form, so these boxes too, sought to eclipse their structural origins, with so many added layers and plastered-over surfaces.
122 Samaras,'On Materials',op. cit.
These plaster boxes function as what Stewart called 'materialized secrets'-they signify that a strategy of making secret has taken place. Operating as encrypted objects that obstinately refuse to give themselves away, the secrecy of these plaster boxes works in two ways. Occupying a position of secrecy in Samaras's own oeuvre, in which the elaborate, detailed, decorated boxes are most often discussed,at the sametime they articulate that schemaof secrecy so crucial to his work, in which cryptic suggestion, fragmented biography, historical reference and heavily inference are so alluded to, yet so deftly deflected. Samaras's symbolic later, more complex constructions could only have been realised after these plaster works. The shifting poles of accessand refusal, effacement and plenitude that the jewelled and decorated boxes present function as attempts at redemption; a reparative strategy of retrieval that can only be worked through after the fact of the initial processesof burial and concealment. The success of that reparative be fact but later 'decorative' the that the only ever course, of partial, can, process boxes clearly intend to 'mean' in some way, marks a place for them within a symbolic register that the early plaster boxes only teeter on the brink of.
Typically understood as cryptic in terms of what they are supposedto mean, as symbolic, surreal objects containing mysterious erotic, biographical, historical, even religious secrets,I instead posit Samaras's 'materialized secrets' as literally 'that', i. e., material embodiments of 'secrecy, not instances of a particular 'secret'. What is articulated is a thernatics of secrecy. This resistancedemandsan encounter at once compelling and detached, the box, seemingly replete with 'stuff' and meaning is instead a kind of crypt. Its concealedinterior is renderedas though a blank space or hole in the viewing encounter that cannot be 'filled' by meaning or words, but can only be recognised as such.
As I have described, it is a thematic of secrecy,not an iconography of secretsthat boxes. Addressing identified Samaras's be through this situation as running can directly, Laura Mulvey commented on the secret in relation to the motif of the box.
Borrowing a phrase from Bachelard, Mulvey describes the 'space of
secrecy' in terms of its organisation around the binary oppositions of inside and in Pandora's box, discusses Mulvey to the this myth of specifically relation out. 79
those paintings and literary accounts of the myth that all focus on the details of the jewelled its Mulvey box, the surfaces. such as and patterned points of appearance out that it is not the details and description of the iconography of the box itself that is important, but the fact of the unspeakablecontents that it contains, which in depictions. have to their chosen represent not artists
She describes the
abundanceof surface decoration often attributed to the box's 'beautiful carapace' deflecting inquiry by interest 'an to that seeks prevent away mask' exquisite as 123 boxes both in Samaras's from its centre the same way entice and threaten. Mulvey describes Pandora's box as 'invested with extra attributes of visibility' that, however 'eyecatching' and 'shining', remains vulnerable: 'It threatens to crack, hinting that through the cracks might seep whatever the 'stuff' might be 124 hold ' in that it is supposedto conceal and check. By tracking Samaras'slater boxes back to their origins, we see that the processes by which he constructs his boxes, the rapid application of handfuls of glue-soaked beads to the surfaces,the clutches of tangled yam stuffed into the centre and the into the the and glistening sharp pins pricking stabbing of repeated piercing, desire to complicate access to the secret centre which that mirror structure, Mulvey describesas the drama of Pandora's box. It is exactly this strategy which Abraham and Torok discovered to be the situation of the secret crypt housed hard, impenetrable into The that the surface and content merge subject. within (small box) blockage in Untitled Untitled stand as physical and amorphous one functions 'sealed-off Just that the crypt crypt. as psychic as a of embodiments formation in [that is] to the the a crypt comparable of a cocoon ego place, psychic 125 function Samaras's the containers also chrysalis' so on a register of around 'impenetrability. he called what ***
123Laura Mulvey, 'Pandora's Box: Topographies of Curiosity'. in Fetishism and Curiosity, Indiana, 1996, p. 62. 124 Ibid. 125Abraham and Torok, ' 'The Lost Object-Me' ': Notes on Endocryptic Identification', [19751 Ibid., p. 141.
Just as Judd kept Box No.48 next to his bed, a seemingly alien object in the context of his Minimal world, so Samarastoo keeps his early plaster works stored in his own bedroom where they are encasedin glass. However, Samaras'sboxes provide just one more layer to his already over-stuffed, environment, with its small workspace filled to the ceiling with balls of twine, jars of beads, strands of coloured glass, tins of pins and other odds and ends that eventually find themselves entrenched within one of Samaras's laden surfaces and interiors. Although providing a jarring intrusion in the Minimal spaceof Judd's apartment, Sarnaras's boxes appear less volatile in the context of the artist's own home. They serve instead to envelop and encaseit, yet one more repetition of the box, as though a miniaturised double of the room.
One more layer in an already overloaded interior, they only add to and envelop, his incise the space of and violate environment, a model of encryption that not also goes some way to articulating the position of Samaras's boxes within the wider range of contemporary sculptural practice during the sixties.
apparentnot only in terms of these boxes engagementwith issues of containment in Samaras himself has but the that also way since become and wrapping concealedwithin histories of his moment. This is not simply that Samaras'swork suggestshe might be the disruptive 'unspoken secret' or 'phantom' that haunts Hesse's early engagement with the small-scale box, but that within sculptural histories of the period, the subsequentelision of certain artists such as Samaras signals an element of anxiety within the wider context of ways in which those histories have been constructed and main players designated. This strategy of 'hiding' is best explained in terms of Abraham and Torok's model of subjectivity, in which the subject is locked in an internal conflict that seeks to bypass the traumatic secret harboured in their unconscious by a process of encryption and finds its sculptural analoguein the wrapped objects and crammedsecrecy,which full or concealed surfaces and interior spaces of both Samaras's and Hesse's boxes. small-scale
CHAPTER TWO Topographies of the Void, or Lee Bontecou's Unspecified Objects Lee Bontecou made her first wall-mounted reliefs, such as Untitled (111.2.1) between 1958 and 1959. Her earliest reliefs were small square pieces, usually with one cavity located just off-centre, leaning away from the frame at an oblique angle. The works were made by welding together a series of flat steel rods to form a skeletal structure that builds up toward a central cavity of varying depth. The steel armature is then covered with a skin of fabric sections, fixed to each other and the structure via a method of patchwork, although instead of cotton thread the fabric swatchesare punctured through and adheredto the steel armature with short twists of copper and steel wire. At this time, Bontecou was the only by Leo Castelli, for his artist represented and a while she was woman one of most in Paris in 1965 at the Ileana Sonnabend gallery as artists, showing successful ' in Germany Holland. and well as receiving several solo exhibitions In Bontecou's Untitled (Ill. 2.2) from 1958-59, the crater almost fills the frame, with the black void threatening to engulf the entire surface of the work. Referring to her repeated deployment of the black hole, in relation to both her early series of boxes her later and reliefs, Bontecou said 'I like space that never soot-covered 2 Like Black is like that. Holes boxes
mean secrets and shelter'.
Samaras's boxes, Bontecou's work also posits something 'secret' hidden at its larger although working and, on a much scale than Samaras, the void in core, Bontecou's reliefs also demands a mode of looking that is dependent on the in disturbs both his or her position that way proximity a consistently spectator's and expectations. I Bontecou's first solo exhibition was at Gallery G, New York in 1959, only one year after had been from Rome where she working on a Fulbright scholarship after graduating returning from the Arts Students League in 1956. She had solo exhibitions at Leo Castelli, in 1960,1962, 1966 and 1971. In 1964 she was included in the 'Documenta 3' show in Kassel, Germany. In 1965 she had a show at the Ileana Sonnabend Gallery in Paris, and in 1968 she had large solo exhibitions at the Museum Boymans-Van Beuningen, Rotterdam and at the StadtischesMuseum, Leverkusen, Germany. In 1972 she showed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, at the Davidson Art Center, Connecticut in 1975 and in 1977 a retrospective was held at Skidmore College, New York. Bontecou has also exhibited in many group exhibitions. 2 Lee Bontecou, as quoted in the entry on Bontecou in World Artists 1950-1980, Claude Marks ed., New York, 1984.
For Bontecou'[gletting the black openedeverythingup. It was like dealingwith 3 In her works, Bontecousoughtmateriallyto representthe void limits'. the outer is her 'hole' that structuredaroundin a way that positsthe void reliefs eachof or limits It is both the the the as a secret unavailable space. of work and centreof as that void, and how the spaceor absenceit articulatesdisturbsthe boundariesof both the viewing subject and the object itself, whether violently, sexually, or focus is that the of this chapter. psychically, Prior to Bontecou's move into her better-known large-scaleconstructions, she had in be drawings which sheets of would coated with a paper soot of a series made thick field of velvet-black soot (Ill. 2.3). It was the imagery of these early works in 'black', Bontecou that the which she could utilise ways on paper, specifically between 1958-1959, boxes in of small she constructed a group experimented with frames (111.2.4). These in kept the own collection welded are artist's now high, leather incorporating inches four stretched pieces of muslin, approximately blackened the that surface membrane with soot. with a material covered or canvas In order to produce these effects she used an acetylene welding torch in which the lowest described down its Bontecou been had these turned to setting. oxygen 4 ' being 'like a worldscape sort of thing. works in terms of their Bontecou would typically suspendtiny hanging spheresinside these boxes, only just visible to the eye, as though miniature 'worldscapes' caged within their incorporate into At the surfaces of times, single slits she would other confines. the boxes, cutting through the fabric covering to reveal the black interior, inviting touch and handling in a way that was to become much more threatening in the later, large pieces. In a number of surprising pieces from this time, Bontecou floor-standing large, works, as though enlarged versions of the small some made boxes, for example, Untitled (111.2.5). Another of these works, Untitled (Ill. 2.6), is supported on thin stick-like stands resembling an old-fashioned camera, or
3 Lee Bontecou, as quoted in Mona Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou's "Warnings"', Art Journal, Winter, 1994, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 56-61, p. 59.
4 Lee Bontecou, in Tony Towle, 'Two Conversations with Lee Bontecou', Newsletter, May-June 197 1, vol. II, no. 2,, pp. 25-28, p. 26.
series of cages. With its sizeable clunky composition and the large scale of the boxes involved, this untitled work points to a direction Bontecou's work possibly could have taken, toward large, floor-bound pieces and the serial repetition of the box structure. Actually, she moved in a very different direction, flattening out the black box form and raising it to the wall. Working with the relief, yet retaining the suggestionof its having an interior space,or centre, allowed Bontecou to work with the implications of the three-dimensional box, whilst expanding its form and his format. Whilst, in 'Notes V, from Sculpture, Part in a relief on permutations 1966, Robert Morris's objection to the wall relief stemmed from his problem with the 'limitation of the number of possible views the wall imposes', for Bontecou, this 'imposing' status of her wall-mounted pieces, controlling how the viewer encountersthem, becamethe central concern of her large, signature wall-mounted 5
It was whilst experimenting with these small-scale boxes that Bontecou realised the direction she wanted her work to take. Up until then she had been working on fantastic-looking birds, began of chunky, sculptures which she cast semi-abstract in in factory Rome. Living in Italy Fulbright terracotta a scholarship a on whilst drying terracotta, them out over welded structures of sections cast she would back The together. then cemented recurring thematic of covering over, she which for interest in her black and various materials voids surface coverings of use large-scale later began Bontecou to the create on once she pieces, where struck have 'the is discovered that that thing after strange even you changed, as you she believe you have, and then look back, you see there is one thread through it all 9.6 Explaining her move into large-scale structures from the small boxes she began to make on her return to New York, Bontecou says: 'I welded a frame and realised I So I And inside it. hold together to the pieces opened got work. everything could
Robert Morris, 'Notes on Sculpture, Part 1' , in Continuous Project Altered Daily: 7he Writings ofRobert Morris, Cambridge, MA, 1993, p. 4 Morris' full quote reads: 'The autonomous and literal nature of sculpture demands that it have its own, equally literal space-not a surface hung does Further it the on more, an object wall not confront gravity; painting. with shared timidly resists it ... One more objection to the relief is the limitation of the number of possible imposes'. the the wall views 6 Bontecou, as quoted in Eleanor Munro, Originals: American Women Artists, New York, 1979, p. 378.
7 freeing larger'. The larger It point. pieces got and was a nice up onto the wall. The welded structure became a controlling device, so that the void could be contained within its larger frame in a way that the early soot-black small boxes could not. By opening up the framework, Bontecou could work through the tension of the void's presence, allowing it to anchor the work to the wall, rather than allow it to 'take-over' the entire surface. In these boxes the void or 'blackness' of the work instead envelops the entire work, in a way that could almost be describedin retrospect as embodiments of that void; what, in relation to Samaras'sboxes, I called 'materialized secrets'.
From the single cavity pieces, Bontecou moved onto more complex structures; larger works that incorporated metal skins of welded together strips of steel and fabric Later began the tough to use coverings. as on she as well aluminium fibreglass iridescent through and shot of epoxy panels, with sections moulded burnt from to tawny oranges russetsand opaque creams. In this chapter I colours, take as my focus those works incorporating recycled, dirty fabrics stitched together in roughly hewn swatches,using reclaimed wires, bandsaw teeth, fabrics, grommets and metal grilles; the materials that,. as we shall see, most overtly articulate the phantasy of aggression that these objects give rise to.
Mignon Nixon has described the sculpture of Louise Bourgeois in relation to a Kleinian model of pre-Oedipal drives, in Bontecou's work also 'the sculpture fantasy-as bite being into the to something as object of aggressive or to comes 8 destroy'. cut, to incorporate or to Untitled (111.2.7)from 1966 is a large relief hung in the lobby of the New School for Social Researchin New York. It is a welded armature with sections of burlap hues it, to of various of browny-orange, that are water-stained and, in attached places,beginning to tear slightly, as the fabric is losing its elasticity and beginning to come away from the framework.
From its centre juts a large, metre-wide
cavity, which protrudes from the structure at a slightly oblique angle. A series of few front from from in both the left the taken of work, and a paces photographs
7 Ibid., 384. p. 8SeeMignonNixon,'BadEnoughMother',October, no.71,Winter1995,pp.71-92,p. 75. 85
and right hand sides of it (Ill. 2.8 and 111.2.9),show that, although covered over
framework fabric, the the metal of the objectis still clearly visible. with piecesof The apparently polychrome, painterly surfaces of Bontecou's patchwork reliefs which, at first glance are suggestive of cubist paintings, or abstracted fields of washed-out ambers and reds, are revealed, upon closer examination, to be mere 9 illusion. With the removal of distance between the object and viewing subject is looking that the what one realisation at is not, as it appears from a comes distance, a two-dimensional painting, its patchwork segments reading as painted The flat canvas. promise of Modernist abstract composition is sections of a revealed as a deception. Loss of distance between the object and the viewer imposing viscerally more a rather encounter than when viewing the reveals Encountering further from Untitled close-up clearly reveals a rusty, away. objects torn, damaged, stained, taught, matt, dirty surface. In most reproductions the twists of wire adhering the patchwork membrane to the structure are barely depth Bontecou built the the of void and up with the welded armature that visible, disrupts the flat surface, is virtually impossible to make out. Bontecou's desire to 'go for miles into the surface"O is revealed only when viewing the work intimately close or askance. either obliquely, The twists of wire and frayed edges of the stained and dirty fabric of Untitled (1966) seem to suggest what is on show is in fact the rear view of the object, dirty hidden-from-view the rather messy, and supposedly aspect of the revealing kind 'exoskeletal' though a of structure. 'Exoskeletal' was Donald as piece, Judd's term for describing the spatial effects of Minimalist Dan Flavin's light in term a which, used relation to Bontecou's reliefs, involves less a pieces, delineation of spacedrawn in light, than a complication of its boundaries, welded in metal. Bontecou's 'exoskeletal' framework instead invokes the more fixed, living displayed thing of an object, or when on the outside. This is armature solid a rather more uncomfortable description, implying a turning inside-out that is 9 It is Elizabeth Smith who draws attention to the formal similarity between Bontecou's surfaces and synthetic cubism in her article 'Abstract Sinister', Art in America, no.9, September 1993, pp. 82-87. 10 Bontecou, as quoted in Mona Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou-Heart of a Conquering Darkness', Source :Notes in the History ofA rt, vol. XII, no. L, Fall 1992, pp. 38-44, p. 4 1.
11 What renders these objects of Bontecou's more violent, almost splayed out. unnerving in this close examination of the surface is the membrane covering that Its the structure. own ambiguity of surface, that is, of it being inside or envelops outside, complicates the way that we read the structure.
'hundreds of surfaces', Bontecou, like Judd, one of her earliest supporters, had only 'a few', which she worked with, virtually exclusively, throughout the sixties. Just as the inclusion of hidden panels, moveable sections and multi-levelled compartments in Samaras's boxes involved a strategy of displacement and confusion of centre and edge, inside and out, so Bontecou's works also seem to switch between the registers of inside and outside, this time articulating a more unsettling confusion of protective shell and peeled-away 'skin'. The central void becomesa cavity that may be full or empty, either turned insideout so that that which was contained is spilled, or full, retaining the position it internal and contained. There is a sense,then, that we are looking at as occupies The joins, fixtures, processesand materials that go that should not. we something into constructing the work have been forced out into the viewer's space. This can be seen in a close-up detail of the work. What we expect is a seamlesssmooth object, whose workings and processes of construction remain unseen and unknown. To reveal the underside of the work invokes an uncomfortable sense that we are seeing the work as somehow in reverse. With its roughly finished edges, stained and patchy surface and jutting-out central cavity, comes the attendant expectation, or phantasy, that there is an alternative view of the work, a view that is more acceptable,that is, of a seamlesslyfinished, surface. From the single cavity pieces, Bontecou increasedthe number of openings in her work, punctuating the surface with several orifices which were occasionally covered over with a welded metal grille, or overhung with metal shells that resemble a series of blind, masked faces, or prison-like windows.
11Judd wrote that Flavin's work allows the interior spaceof the gallery to be 'articulated by light' that delineated not so much the structure of the work, but of the work's 'interior', that is, they mark out not so much the spaceof the room as the spaceof the work as it fills and lights the room, making what Judd describesas 'an interior exoskeleton' rather than an 'interior structure'. Donald Judd, 'Aspects of Flavin's Work', 1969, reprinted in Donald Judd. The Complete Writings 19591975, Halifax and New York, 1975, pp. 199-200.
permutation on the skeletal structure, the one unchanging aspect was always the
black hole or void. All works werebackedwith sheetsof black felt or velvet that servedthe dual purposeof covering over the processof constructionthat would otherwisebe revealedat the backof the work, as well as forming the 'black void' that is visible whenthe openingsarepeeredinto. The materials Bontecou used were recycled, dirty and reclaimed. She used old fire hoses, discoloured laundry bags, postal sacks and stained sheets of burlap, alongside the more solid casings of old sections of aircraft and other found objects, like the sections of dryers she scavengedfrom the Chinese laundry below her studio. Occasionally, Bontecou would use denim, abstractly invoking a bodily Untitled (111.2.10) from in 1962, where the already-present the work as metaphor, jeans the cut-up of are echoed in the joins and seams of the stitching seams and pieces of fabric themselves. The use of the denim fabric presents a curious conflation of everyday clothing with the rather more unsettling skin-like carapace this stretched,stitched surface evokes. However, instead of the delicate sewing of fabric to the thread stitch clothing, used swatches are punctured through cotton and adhered to the steel armature with short twists of copper and steel wire, as Bontecou image in of at work (M. 2.11), where she is twisting the sharp an seen framework to the welded of wire skeletal prior to piercing and fixing the pieces fabric membraneto it. 12 'my favorite Canal Street, ' Trawling shopping place, for the remainders of New York City's junk and piecing them together to forrn large, composite threedimensional sculptures was not, of course, Bontecou's invention. She has often been grouped together with those 'assemblage' artists of the fifties and sixties, such as Robert Rauschenberg,and John Chamberlain, as well as with Samarasand H. C. Westermann, whose own strategy of assemblageI discuss as 'bricolage' in 13 the next chapter. William Seitz's 'Art of Assemblage' show at MoMA in 1961
correspondence with the author, letter dated June 2002. Bontecou wrote 'Canal St. was
heaven-old surplus & hardware stores-plastic rubber, metal etc., all is gone now-the old generic commercial world has moved in. It was my favorite shopping place as well as for other artists at the time'. 13 Chamberlain was working in New York at the beginning of the sixties, before moving to California. John Coplans, in an article reviewing the work of Bontecou, Chamberlain, Edward
had attempted to map the terrain of the new 'assemblage' object, defining it broadly as any object constructed either entirely or in part from 'preformed fragments materials, objects manufactured or not intended as art natural or 14 Assemblage' 'Art of was an ambitiously scaled show spanning materials'. twentieth-century Cubism through to contemporary practices on both the East and West coastsof America. Both Rauschenbergand Chamberlain were included in 'Art of Assemblage', as from 1960-61, Untitled Samaras's one of his early plaster boxes, discussed were in chapter one, and Westermann's About a Black Magic Marker wooden slotfrom 1959-60. Bontecou's Untitled (Ill. 2.12) from 1960, machinelpersonnage large for the show, a scale multi-faceted structure with cavities that selected was jutting from its inward as as well out patchwork fabric surface. contract Bontecou's work is pictured in the catalogue, a full-page black and white juxtaposed is full-page that to next a colour image of John reproduction Chamberlain's crushed and colourful automobile-part 'assemblage', Essex (Ill. 2.13), from the same year. In the catalogue, Seitz cites 'juxtaposition' as the dominant mode of construction sharedby assemblageart, although the show was too ungainly and wide-ranging in its claims to retain any real force or specificity
Higgins, Kenneth Price and, interestingly, H. C. Westermann, claimed that Chamberlain's move from retaining the found colour of the automobiles he crushed, to painting selectedareasin colours of his own choice marked his move from the New York assemblagemodel of the found object to surfaces that were 'brighter and cleaner', containing, Coplans writes 'more of the ambience of California'. John Coplans, 'Higgins, Price, Chamberlain, Bontecou, Westermann', Artforum, in Coplans April 1964, 38-49. 10, What 2., this article is the recent 'younger outlines pp. no. vol. and newer' generationof artists who owe more to the abstract-expressioniststhan they do the older generation of American sculptors. Although the painterly comparison sits awkwardly with the wooden sculptures, ragged fabric assemblagesand welded steel work of these artists, what Coplans is attempting is a dislocation of their work from that of David Smith etc., what he describesas 'this rupture of sculpture as monument', toward the portable, unique, with its 'sharper focus in the optic-a new scale of interplay between the haptic and the optic'. (p. 39). Coplans describes Bontecou's wall reliefs as 'a dead-end image that she can only repeat, elaborate, decorate and endlessly re-explore' (p. 40). Rather than simply dismissing Bontecou's 'limited' be Coplans to suggesting this project of constant reiteration as part of that shift seems range, toward anti-monumentality and large scale statementsof progressive change in sculptural practice Smith. for David in the example, of, work embodied 14William C. Seitz, Art ofAssemblage, New York, 1961, p. 4. Although problematic in its range 'assemblage' did definition influence the a aesthetic, show exert of new considerable and artists of its For the time. the and of show main claims, see Studies in Modern Art 2: Essays an account at Roger Shattuck's York, 1992, How New 'Introduction: Collage Assemblage, particularly on Became Assemblage' and 'Transcript of the Symposium', an edited version of the 1961 symposium accompanying the show. Panellists included Lawrence Alloway, Marcel Duchamp, Richard Huelsenbeck,Robert Rauschenberg,Roger Shattuck and William C. Seitz.
in defining 'assemblage,which remaineda term roundly rejectedby virtually all included in including Bontecou, who has since the show, artists contemporary 15 'I have by the gallery'. no connection to assemblage-that was stuck on claimed 'Art of Assemblage' had its original inception on the West coast, as the idea of Peter Selz, who was later to curate the 'Funk Art' show in San Francisco, at the University Art Museum, Berkeley, in 1967.16 'Art of Assemblage' had its origins ten years earlier for Selz who, on his arrival at MoMA, New York in 1958, already had the idea for a show 'Collage and the Object'. Seitz, then curator of MoMA, had apparently been thinking along similar lines, and it was his, rather than Selz's assemblageshow that eventually came to fruition. The two curators disagreed over what Seitz felt were the painterly associations of 'collage, ' lost in the move from Selz to Seitz's curation was ultimately although what was the West coast assemblage or 'funk' scene that was so prevalent in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, and which Selz had been keen to incorporate. Bontecou's work, in particular, has striking similarities with two such artists, Bruce Conner and Harold Paris, Californian-based sculptors whose constructions deployed dirty fabrics darkly tattered, also objects sinister and everyday of items.17
Conner's nylon webs are stretched over wooden panels, ensnaring feathers, fur. doll's heads, The of surface is rendered at times shoes, and pieces marbles, thickly layered or webbed, densely laden with sinister part-objects, at others 15Bontecou, private correspondencewith author, June 2002. There seemsto be some antagonism between Castelli and his artists at this time over the labelling and marketing of their work. Castelli is said to have been keen to ensure that the name 'assemblage' be always associated with Leo Castelli artists. 16 Selz did co-curate 'Art of Assemblage' in New York. The show travelled to San Francisco in 1962, between March and April, having been at the Dallas Museum of Contemporary Art between January and February 1962. The show included only sevenWest-coastbasedartists among its 252 exhibits. Those artists were: Bruce Conner, George Herms, Jess,Ed Kienholz, John Baxter, Bruce Beasley and Seymour Locks. In retrospect, notable exclusions to the show are Californian artists Clay Spohn and Wallace Berman. Selz's 1967 'Funk Art' show at the University Museum, Berkeley included Bruce Conner, George Herms and Wallace Berman as 'precursors' of Funk, Paris, Peter Robert Hudson, Harold Voulkos, William T. Wiley, Manuel Joan Brown, with along Neri, and Kenneth Price. SeeLost and Found: Four DecadesofAssemblage Art, California, 1988, for a detailed survey of West coast sculptural practice during the fifties and sixties. 17 The importance of West coast based sculptural, or object-based production demands further research, which, although occasionally touched on in my thesis in relation to artists' such as William T. Wiley and sometime L. A based H. C Westermann, exceeds the remit of my current project.
sparse and bare, the paint-streaked or untreated wooden panel board showing through, at once reinforcing and destabilising the spatial effects of the work. Other works of Conner's are more explicit, such as the dolls that are tightly bound in nylon cords which tie the mummified figure to a kitchen stool or chair. An example of this is his 1959-60 assemblageThe Child (111.2.14),which features a wax figure bound in webbed stretches of nylon and cloth, strapped to a baby's high chair, captured by the nylon that suffocates, strangles and arrestswhatever is caught up in its snare. Although far removed from the ephemeral nature of Conner's materials, Harold Paris's Elder (111.2.15)from 1960 sharesConner's staging of violent or macabre situations. Elder is a bronze cast of a chair represented part-way through the process of its being devoured or rotting away; the seat of the chair lurches up, tearing out of its fixtures and rupturing away from the frame as though warped by heat; the entire chair appearsto be putrefying before our very eyes. Proposing at least an enigmatic fragment of narrative, the work of Paris and Conner Lippard described Lucy 'aesthetics what as an of nastiness', a kind of exemplifies dirty pop that sharesmuch with Samaras's own series works using chairs, which he covered over in a similar fashion to his yam and pin strewn boxes, adding and removing legs and backs, rendering them if not impossible, then dangerousto sit 18 on and use. These objects engagewith aggressivity, explicit in the work of Paris and Conner, as well as Ed Kienholz's unnerving tableaux, and implicit in the work of Bontecou, where it finds its abstractequivalent. For both Conner and Paris, the violence inflicted or implied, is less threatening. The object may unfold, melt, rot, or it may be bound, strangulated, trapped or tortured. The language of violence and decay, the suggestion of a rotting chair somehow devouring itself, and the way in which the doll's body is reduced to an darker bulge, a reveal side to the assemblageconstructions of, say amorphous Rauschenbergor even Chamberlain. Although often using objects that have been 18 See Lucy Lippard, 'Eccentric Abstraction', Art Intemational,
vol. 10, no. 9, November 1966, pp.
28-40. Interestingly, the work of Lucas Samarashas also been compared with the work of Conner. Chapter one of this thesis touches on this point in relation to the recent Pop art show in Paris, where Conner and Samaraswere exhibited in the same section of the show as examples of a the 'darker', more phantasmaticdimension of Pop art.
in Chamberlain the violently reconfigured, object of attack a or somehow attacked work, for example, that has been crushed, compressed, crunched and disturbing, typically than comprises automobile parts, rather more overpowered, doll's head, bedding household furniture the such as and artefacts of personal ConnerandParis.19 The object under attack in Paris and Conners' work is more personally affective. Soliciting an intimate engagementwith the spectator,we are invited to witness the scene before us-decapitated
baby dolls, bodily
sexualised and aggressively seeking our participation.
protuberances-squishy, Although the void in
Bontecou's work invites viewers to read 'into' its vacant space, its appearance does not 'figure' violence in the literal way that Conner's bound dolls or Kienholz's figures do, but rather evokes its immanent possibility. The threat of Bontecou's work is always implicit.
It relies not on aggressive imagery, or
but between both the the object and the an activation of space sickening scenarios, it; looking an activated object that threatensthe spaceof the spectatoras at subject itself. the the object of space as well
Occasionally, Bontecou's surfaces are more explicitly aggressive. One rather unusual piece from 1966, Untitled (Ill. 2.16), in the Guggenheim Museum, New York seemsto articulate a more overtly aggressivesurface than other pieces. This is a multi-cavitied piece in which the holes retain a strikingly 'facial', or at least 'masked' quality not present in other works. The cavities have been half covered beaks hole (111. though the or carapace, as masks sheltering a shell-like over with 2.17). This work is surprising in the tonal range of the surface. Made from strips have horizontally, been fixed is together that the tonally steel piece of welded it has been dirty lighter than as painted white, with blown soot other works, much stuck to its surface in places. Instead of a patchwork membrane stretched over is fixed this to comprised of an aluminium surface, steel armature, work a and fagade is both hard that to the structure and a solid wall work, single one creating 19 Other
artists such as Lindsey Decker and Jackie Windsor also engage with this kind of 'dirty Conner both Paris 'aesthetics that the the of and on abstract of works exude, nastiness' or pop', and more figurative levels, both in terms of their choice of materials and processesof working, for See bandaged Decker's Lippard, Windsor's tightly and moulded part-objects. pieces example Ibid.
20 have been black-not, however, deep The the painted shell-carapaces surface. velvet-blackof her earlier works on paper and her small boxes,but a scratchy, lends kind fifties black this that predominantly white piece of work a of patchy jaded bandsaw The now and worn and quaintly comical. sharp appearance, sci-fi teeth that are placed within the small carapacesare grotesque. The teeth are placed slightly apart, not clenched uniformly together. For all its sinister in appearance terms of scaleand material, this work remainsalmost comical, a have been by Bontecou, that missed not would whoseworks on paperare point humour, featuring through a sinister with sense of clampedteeth and shot also carvinalesquegapingmouths. The Guggenheim piece is over six feet tall, although, due to its bilateral extension bottom-heavy loses kind it intimacy into the the of cross, some of a of the sides at single-cavity framed works, particularly those where the void is not barred but barren. It was at this time that Bontecou began experimenting with different, more contemporary materials, most notably moulded sections of coloured fibreglass and epoxy which she would combine with other found materials, for bomber War World II incorporated into the an old of plane she section example her work 1964 (111.2.18),hung in the lobby of the Lincoln Center, New York. Ranging from orangey-brown to russet-yellow, the central cavity of this totemic work is flanked by two smaller ones each side. Unlike her welded armature like is Guggenheim the this piece, not set within a rectangular or work, pieces, large free-standing frame. Bontecou's or wall constructions cast from square fibreglass, epoxy or strips of metal function rather differently to the other reliefs. They are much more of their time than, say, the burlap and welded steel works. It is the fibreglass pieces in particular, the lightly toned works that radiate light from fragile. These pieces are too pretty, too light of touch, and that so seem within, 20 Roberta Smith, in her review of Bontecou's 1994 show held at the Parrish Art Museum and the
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, also commented on this work's surprising dark, distinction from her in earlier, monochromatic works. She stands stark appearance,which wrote, 'The elaborate, mostly white construction that culminates the show will surprise almost everyone, even though the piece belongs to the Guggenheim. It has been on view for a total of six months since is entered the collection in 1975', 'Haunting Works from the 60's', New York Times, Sunday October 3rd, 1993, p. 42. The 'surprise' of this piece was no doubt partly engenderedby the Guggenheim's decision to rarely exhibit this large work in its galleries displaying the Guggenheim's permanent collection. It is currently held in storage and had not been unpacked since its return from this show in 1994 until I saw it in 2000.
in their monumentality and simplicity (in relation to her other contemporary dark fit to the with more awkward, and roughly hewn pieces. works) One problem with the loss of the frame from these objects is the accompanying loss of tension from the work. Unlike Bontecou's early black boxes that also frame for an all-over evocation of the void itself, the the to eschew seemed fibreglass and brighter panelled pieces that incorporate the void do not establish a point of tension between surface and hole but seem to neatly accommodate it. The loss of that tension is increased by the number of cavities that have been Guggenheim in the piece. It refuses the possibility of an encounter over covered with the void, its vulnerability and penetrative spaceis protected. By both barring holes, the then series of access to the work is heavily restricted. masking and Unlike the works that invite closer, intimate (and intimidating)
conditions, this work seemsto actively deflect our gaze. It is a defensive object that too literally plays out the strategy of aggressivity that finds its more in articulation charged other cavity, or unmaskedworks. psychically
Another large mixed-media work featuring fibreglass is Untitled (Ill. 2.19), from 1966, which is owned by the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and fairly glistens in the harsh strip lighting of its storage facilities. At turns opaque and dark, or shot through with a lightness that is almost palpable, the undulating is far from the the taught, matt patchwork surface of, for a cry of work surface example Untitled (111.2.20)from 1960. Although engagedin the same strategy of do these cast section works not possessthe same intimate, unsettling projection, burlap, hessian the and sacking-swathed armature pieces that I have as charge been discussing so far. The single protruding void in this smaller Untitled piece immediate a more visceral, confrontation with the void than works articulates such as the Chicago piece that, even close up, with the joins, seamsand trickle of level luminescence beauty that works such as a still evident, retains of and paint Untitled, with its dark, jutting void, and weighty, dank surface covering absolutely do not. ***
Just as a comparisonwith Hesse's and Samaras'sdrawings in chapter one demonstrateda sharedinterestin probingthe structuralproblemsandimplications of the box fon-n, so Bontecou also worked through, in two dimensions,the implications of her own sculpture, specifically ways in which she could it Turning Bontecou's the to the absence embodies. and void works reconfigure dialogue between interesting figurative the an see overtly and on paper, we tviolent' or aggressive,and the three-dimensionalabstractpieces. What is so however, is that, whilst figurative and therefore these works, curious about explicit in their depictionsof mouths,eyesandweapons,they do not simply find their abstractedcorrelatesin the three-dimensional pieces. Rather,operatingon a depiction jaws literal the of gas masks, guns, chomping and gaping register, more less frightening drawings The the violent. aspectof Bontecou's mouthsmakes inherent 'within' do is the themselves, they not objects not wall-mountedworks The foreboding, terror, of or sinister scenarios. sense of emblems as alone stand fear and violence Bontecou's objects so frequently elicit, arise from that between the objectandthe spectator. encounter charged psychically Often Bontecou's works on paper are finished works in their own right, rather than preparatory pieces, for example the series of lithographic prints she made at Tatyana Grossman's Universal Limited Art Editions from 1962.21
lithography that marked Bontecou's move into print production as a distinct area 22 her working practice. Whether lithographs, soot on linen, pencil or charcoal of level figuration high in Bontecou's is two-dimensional work, there a of paper, on particularly in light of the resolute abstraction of her objects. Amongst the abstract black concentric prints and quasi-fantastic 'worldscapes', there are a number of intricate paper works that depict gas masks, teeth, mouths and eyes. How does the translation from the explicitly violent, aggressive drawings to the fabric large eroticised welded constructions manifest that shift charged, violently from mere sinister appearanceto viscerally disturbing encounter?
21 Bontecou has said 'I draw for pleasure and think of them [her works on paper] as work
drawings as well as drawings in themselves'. Private correspondencewith the author, op.cit. 22 When asked what drew her to lithography, Bontecou described it as marking the break between her working drawings and finished works on paper. She said, 'Then  1 was just making working drawings, not final drawings.... You can make revisions on the stone'. Towle, op.cit., p. 25.
Untitled (aviator) (Ill. 2.21), 1961, is a graphite on paper work that features at its between humanoid face, object somewhere gas mask, and internal centre a strange organ. Bontecou has conflated a bodily register with the dehumanisedimage of a gas mask, a left-over remnant of World War 11,persisting now as a chillingly danger warfare, of and potential attack. of signifier pertinent
inclusion of machinery and pieces of armoury left over from the Second World War occurred several times in both her sculpture and drawings. Her mother had factory in during the a war, making submarine parts, and it was this worked, interest in the bits and pieces of warfare, the used, exhausted or now-defunct Bontecou Her that weapons and picked up on. anger at the old planes aspect of in 'prison' in Korea a series of small welded resulted reliefs and sketches situation (111.2.22) that figured the striations of prison uniforms and an early use of the barred and grill-covered cavities she was to deploy in her later works, in which images of warfare and imprisonment found their large-scalereconfiguration in the later she went on to construct. entrapment of scenes
In Untitled (aviator) the form of the gas mask has been complicatedby the from it. holes The tubes that of ventricle-like protrude of a series eye are addition is distinguishable, the mouth,with the mesh-likeair vent enablingsafe as clearly inhalationof oxygenhere taking on the doubleillusion of both figurative mouth and concentricvoid. Just to the left of the main imageis a miniatureversionof the mask, this time even more distinct, with only two tubular forms attached, depictedin a more refined outline emphasisingthat this is a drawing of an actual hole indicated its being darker through the mouth clearly much and with object, tightly delineated,as are the two eye sockets. The blanked-outblind eyesof the inert bodily from tubes read as which veiny stick out, eerily correlatesto mask, the vacantvoids of her three-dimensional pieces,uncannilyevokingfragile, fleshy internal bodily organs at the same time as they signal armour and protective frightening image is hostile, This of warfare permeatedwith a senseof carapace. foreboding violence as well as unmistakably invoking for the spectatorthe internaltopographyof the humanbody. This hostility waskeenlyfelt by the artist herself who, when asked about the subjects she depicted in her drawings, describedtheir continuedpresenceassomethingshecould not shakeoff, claiming 96
keep from But I them. to away running!s23Bontecouis keento can't seem get escape the explicit motifs of warfare, and its attendant paraphenalia, as though her that threaten abstract compositions. ghosts unwelcome Two works from 1964, entitled Designs for Sculpture (111.2.23), (graphite on paper), and Untitled (111.2.24), (graphite and soot on linen) are more heavily worked drawings that link closely with her sculptural practice, although at the same time they retain a high level of figuration that is markedly absent from her features latter The two shapes,placed one above the other, the top work objects. lower is the one rectangular. They are placed over a graduated oval, shape background of horizontal stripes of grey and white in variegated graphite and soot. In the top oval shape is a set of teeth, clenched together in a curving line from one side of the oval to the other. No other facial features are figured, lips is The the of clear. suggestion rest of the shape is filled with the although grey-black of the pencil and soot. It is the handling of the graphite outline that makes the comparison of this row of small white squares to a set of teeth so compelling. A softnessof form, a slight rounding at the edgesof each square,and the suggestion of lips and mouth-like form that they adopt renders such an anthropomorphic reading irresistible. The lower shape is instead filled with one black Bontecou's trademark voids, which rests above another oval form, both of of which sit upon a stripy ground of grey strips that echoesthat of the image as a whole. Formally the stripes and small circular holes resemble her later welded iron structure from 1966 Untitled, the white-surfaced Guggenheim piece. Designs for Sculpture renders that suggestion of teeth even more explicit.
linear drawing from Untitled 1961, it features a series of than pencil more much interlocking ovoid shapes. Inside each shapeis a mouth, usually with bared teeth in in together a comic-grotesque grimace, whilst others, the lips are clenched tightly clamped shut, with the contour of the line marking them out as lips varying from curved downwards, to upwards, to slightly off-centre, suggesting a variety of facial expressions:frowning, smiling, grimacing. The central, largest shapeis the 23 Ibid,
p. 25. Bontecou is referring to the drawings she began making in the later fifties and early sixties, which she returned to and continued to make after she moved into three dimensional objects.
clearestexampleof this, with the half-openmouth and the row of sharp,spiky teeththat would suggesta non-humanmouth,mid-bite, or yawn. The elementof comedyis clear in this as in other of her works featuringteeth imagery,but that they are a figurative,recognisablerepresentationis indisputable,andit is this that interestsme. In 1968, Bontecou had a solo exhibition at the StUdtisches Museum, Leverkusen, Germany. In the accompanying catalogue was reproduced a lithograph of a large eye which filled the frontispiece (111.2.25). The thick black lines that Bontecou light in to the comparison stark use of washes, or the soft, smudgy are used drawings her 'Stone' lithographs. and series other of of surfaces demarcated, is lid. the as crudely eye are eyeball
The eye and
It is an uncompromising, bold
image that seems to stare back at the viewer, a powerful introduction to a series of predominately large-scale sculptural objects that the exhibition
is figuration Bontecou incorporates her I in that the to that use make of want point faces, drawings, is teeth, of masks, mouths, eyes and and reconfigured, not prints simply
language by a replaced, of abstraction in her object-based works.
Describing the way her drawings switch from being works in their own right to being connected to the sculptures, Bontecou said 'I also use them to work out in fast fix do [sic] It's I times. a piece of sculpture. a at never a piece problem's drawing-at from a sculpture of 24 loose'.
best sometimes back and forth-both
Bontecou's abstractedsculptural language allows her to point both to that actual it is (it eye, a mouth), and beyond it; from the specificity of the literal, an object is bodily eye, then, to the phantasy of the eye as sexual organ.25 Between the 24Bontecou, in private correspondencewith the author, June 2002. 25 It is interesting to note, in connection with Bontecou's move from figuratively depicted violence and to abstractedaggressivity in her three-dimensional works a small sculpture of a gun she made in 1959. Bontecou's gun, made just after the early set of small boxes, is made up of washers, bullets, found objects. Bontecou playfully describesit as an 'out of this world gun', (Bontecou, as quoted in Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou-Heart of a Conquering Darkness', op.cit., p. 41) which, although pointing to her occasional works in which she directly treats social or political concerns (for example, in a 1961 drawing of a gas mask, the reference to its being a piece of armour is emphasisedthrough the inclusion of the letters 'U. S.A' on the front, and the 1966 drawing entitled 'America', which figures abstracted emblems of warfare and violence) remains an oddly inert, unthreatening piece, it clearly does not 'work', and the piece seemsrather redundant , as though a toy, or makeshift prop.
of the prints and drawings and the large-scale objects, a shift in
in looking ways of perception,
and seeing occurs.
Just as Samaras's boxes
demand that they be viewed in partial fragments by a method of 'peering', and H. C. Westermann's objects, as we shall see, require a type of looking that is more akin to the physical act of 'drifting',
so Bontecou's objects demand also a specific
type of attention. The mode of looking that Bontecou's work sets up moves from 'ordinary looking' to a sexualised, libidinal gaze, imbued with psychic phantasies. It moves from the specificity of the eye as phenomenal object to the psychic logic 26 Rather than here female body in
cast the aggressive
of the part-object.
a phantasy of castration, or those readings of the void in Bontecou's work as it is dentata, the void at the point of activation, as staring socket or vacant, vagina hollow, activated orifice and black absence,that lures the viewer and mobilises the encounterbetween the object and the viewer that I want to pursue. ***
In her statement for MoMA's
'Americans 1963' show, Bontecou wrote 'I'm
afraid I am rather vague about expressingphilosophies of art and especially about The individual [ ] is feel in them what he to work. welcome see and my own ... 27 himself'. Her in tenns of own call for an openness of interpretation wishes in her the ways which with work, since the sixties, has been seem to constrasts feminine difference. For the and sexual example, feminist artists such as privilege Judy Chicago, have claimed that Bontecou's 'feminine imagery' 28was influential on her own practice, although, echoing the ambivalence of Eva Hessetoward such has Bontecou 'as far imagery it was not that since written as women's readings,
26 What is interesting is that both Donald Judd's article on Bontecou's sculpture in 1964, which I
discuss in some detail later, and the StddtischesMuseum catalogue that opens with the print of the eye, feature, as frontispieces, examples of Bontecou's lesser-known two-dimensional work, rather than her sculptures. (Judd's opening image is a photograph of Bontecou in the studio of Universal Limited Art Editions, surroundedby her seriesof lithographs). 27Lee Bontecou, as quoted in Dorothy C. Miller ed., Americans '63, New York, 1963, p. 12. 28
Artforum to Lucy R. Lippard', vol. 13., no. 7, September 1974, pp. 60-65, p. 64. The full response to Lippard's question 'What about your emphasis on [ I "female imagery", to put it mildlyT which was wildly controversial, was 'I meant that some ... I looked at of us [women artists] had made art dealing with our sexual experiences as women. Lucy
and Bontecou and Hepworth and I don't care what anybody I knew from my own work what those women were doing'.
says, I identified
29 feel [sic] female I female'. intension is In aggression... nor art not male or my 1965, Annette Michelson wrote in the catalogue for Bontecou's solo show at the Ileana Sonnabend gallery in Paris that Bontecou's art 'is neither feminine nor feminist; in its scale, its manner of reconciling contradictions, it achieves that 30 distinguishes her the art of time'. essentially androgynous character which Michelson's demand that Bontecou's objects be understood as fundamentally 'androgynous' was not adopted quite so readily back in New York. Many writers have focused on the sexual nature of the orifice-like void in Bontecou's work, the so-called 'vaginal' imagery her work embodies. This is due in part, certainly, to Bontecou's role as a woman artist, however, such language is also, I think, tied Although Michelson's its to time. claim that current work is defined very much by its androgynous nature is, to an extent true, the lack of visible women's practice being discussed seriously in art magazines at the time renders her point rather mute. Once critics realised that the name 'Lee' belonged to a woman, her in the uneasy space between as situated work somewhere of accounts body, female body, became a the the and violence, specifically, eroticism, her in feature writing on work. common The work of Eva Hesse has also often been described in terms of the body, as though sexual objects, absurdly inflated, elongated, multiplied and bandaged breasts. Just as resolutely abstract as the reliefs of Bontecou, the and penises has in Hesse been only recent of years rehabilitated within a discourse not work intent on reading 'woman', the body, or, specifically 'Hesse' as somehow Hesse was interested in Bontecou's work, and, after inscribed within the work .31 in her in 1963, in her diary, Bontecou studio noted visiting I am amazed at what that woman can do. Actually the work involved is what impressed me so. The artistic result I have seen and know. This was the unveiling to me of what can be done, what I must learn, and what there is to do. The 29 Lee Bontecou, private correspondence with the author, op. cit. 30 , cet art n'est ni feminine, ni feministe; par son 6chelle, par sa faqon de concilier les contradictions, il atteint A ce caractdre essentiellement androgyne qui est celui de I'art de son temps'. Annette Michelson, Lee Bontecou, Paris, April, 1965, unpaginated 31 See, for example, Anne Wagner, Three Artists (Three Women) Modernism and the Art ofHesse, Krasner and O'Keefe, California, 1998 and chapter one, footnote 98 of this thesis for a brief outline of recent scholarship on Hesse.
is involved, her what structures, absolutely complexity of floored me.32 Although it was the complexity
of Bontecou's sculptural practice that initially
impressed Hesse, no doubt inspired by the fact that Bontecou was a slightly older, it this time, artist at was ultimately Bontecou's engagement established woman with the void that prompted Hesse to produce an untitled drawing 'homage' (111. 2.26) to Bontecou in April 1961, as part of the ninety ink drawings she began that homage Cornell, Hesse's Bontecou's Samaras's Like to to work relating year. form the took of a two, not three-dimensional work on a small also sculpture scale, focusing not on the immense surface of her reliefs-the 'floored' Hesse-but it that the so were, as work, of
on the central void or secret
that Bontecou's work posits. Drawn on an intimate scale, measuring only four by framed boxed lines, dark, in inches these thick and or with ovoid and square, six window-shaped
ink drawings occupy an interesting place in Hesse's oeuvre.
They situate her practice alongside Bontecou's earliest works from 1958 to 1960, in which she also worked on a small-scale, when she made her series of small boxes and accompanying
soot drawings. Hesse, like Bontecou, was also to
intimate for larger the and an engagement with a small-scale practices abandon ink by Hesse formally in these three-dimensions, and works scale
'worldscape' drawings boxes from Bontecou's this time. and with
Just as many of Hesse's sculptures mark out areasof absenceand emptiness,with hung ropes that delineate space, squashed and sagging fibreglass buckets that just it, the they to collapse under pressure of space as contain and surround seem demonstrate drawings ink these an awarenessof space and containment early so that finds a striking resonancewith Bontecou's work. By this time, Bontecou had New first G in York, in 1959 Gallery the time the twice at and already exhibited the second,in the 'Americans '63' show held at MoMA in 1960, which Hesse,no doubt, would have seen.
Hesse's untitled drawing that refers to Bontecou's sculptural practice depicts a flattened oval, outlined in black and filled in with swathes and scratchesof line 32Bontecou,
as quoted in Lucy Lippard, Eva Hesse,New York, 1992, p. 56.
and blocks of black colour which fill the page. The outer border of the black 'hole' is ringedin swirls of dirty-brown ink washthat referencethe tawny sacking Hesse Whilst Bontecou's burlap of reliefs. sheeting admitted to being and 'floored' by Bontecou's practical achievements,what she focuses on in this drawing is the void itself; the blank hole that dominatesBontecou'sstructures. Just as Bontecouclaimed it was the discoveryof black that openedup the way that her work was to develop, so Hessetoo is drawn to the void as material startingpoint for her own engagementwith absenceand spacein her sculptural practice. What this untitled drawing points to, however,is that it is not Hesse's 'blackness' her inaugurated that the void or working process, with own encounter but rather,Bontecou'sencounterwith it, and her own encounterwith Bontecou's herself. Although it is acknowledgedthat this drawing Bontecou through work, Bontecou's from Bontecou's does to the work, omission of refer name certainly the title renders this drawing as specific homage slightly more complex. 33 for Hesse's later 'the Describedas conceptualtesting ground' works, these drawingsalso showthe origins of Bontecou'sstrategy. It is 'secreted',asit were, haunting its inception. Hesse's oeuvre, original own within In another instance of secret homage and incorporation of another, an anecdote had Comell incorporated image into his how Bontecou's of one own recalling homage boxes describes exactly the complicated spiral of intersections and 'homage' investigate. Comell that to a concept of allows us of relations networks kept file her for keen Bontecou's on work, and a on several years, as was very in his diaries for their occasional meetings with charting open admiration as well her. For example, his diary entry from January 14th,1962 reads,
clear and sunny again-penning now by the porch radiatorlooking up to bus stops-light of L. B. boarding bus-came along quickly-poetry-enchantment of distance. Space-sybil-collage for her, alter ego-what a moment what an eternity in a moment-
33 Julia Bryan-Wilson, 'Early Drawings: Ink Washes and Gouaches' in Eva Hesse, Elisabeth Sussman ed., San Francisco, 2002, p. 121. These drawings by Hesse were first exhibited in 1961 in a small group show 'Drawings: Three Young Americans', at the John Heller Gallery in New York.
but obsession waý of seeing personal again not necessarily 14 experiences,life-and yet ... extraordinary creature. Bontecou's incorporation into the work of both Hesse and Comell, for whom she 'extraordinary' is both 'amazing' and a more personalised,explicit reference was in the work and diaries of Comell, whereas Hesse's reference in this small ink work, is less overt, and more 'secretive'.
It is, rather, the complexity of
Bontecou's and Hesse's structures that ultimately connects their work, the depict 'absence', fact Bontecou to the that trying although was a of absurdity important in her difficulties Hesse, to terms also of own with was artist successful being taken seriously as a woman artist at the time. Lucy Lippard points out that Hesse was impressed by the fact that Bontecou was the only woman artist in later, had Bontecou by Castelli the that early sixties, and also represented focus 64. Lippard Tontecou's in Documenta that on grey also claimed shown "natural looking" her highly black, and, above all, on rough materials, and 35 imagery, be decisions'. it Hesse's to can surely own sexual related abstract yet is not in terms of a shared language of sexual imagery that link these two artists, however, but rather in terms of the mode of spectatorshipeach demands.
Hesse's 1966 wall-hung piece Hang-Up (111.2.27)marked a break from the reliefs her in Germany, had the such as one year earlier at end of stay made she Ringaround Arosie and Oomamaboomba,with their colourful mouldings, bound These and coils cord. of reliefs were much smaller protuberances, and painted than Hang Up, and, with their primary palette and pastel pinks, reference her drawings from the same year.
Both the drawings and reliefs at this time
demonstrateHesse's use of coiled and wrapped cords and surfaces that recall the Samaras's boxes. is large Hang-up of on a scale, consisting surfaces yam-covered from ludicrously bandaged frame the two on wall which expands a metre of a loops back itself, lasso, demarcating to trip on create a or wire, which appendage, 34Mary Ann Caws, JosephCornell's Theatre the Mind: SelectedDiaries, Letters and Files, of ed. New York, 1993. p. 286. On the 22ndof September,eight years later in 1970, he recorded 'frightful overwroughtRobertandMother aboutLee visiting that Saturdayafternoon'.p. 453-4 . In anotherentry from February0 1962,CornelldescribedBontecou'sworksas 'Lee's warnings', Journal, 4, Winter 53, Bontecou's Warnings', Art 1994, in Mona Hadler, 'Lee vol. no., quoted as pp. 56-61,p. 56.1 haveso far beenunableto track down the box of Cornell's that incorporates Bontecou'simage. 35Ibid., 216, 11. p. n.
a spacein which one can step into and becomepart of the work. As though acting-outthe implicationsof Bontecou'searlier reliefs, in Hang-Up, the viewer becomescaughtup within the frame and incorporatedinto the work. The blank spaceof the wall inside the swathed,paintedframe is activatedby the spectator, within the rectangular'pictorial' frame. andtheir ensnarement The grid of entrapment Hang Up articulates finds its stronger echo in Bontecou's later barred and toothed voids, where her wish to 'mentally scrape the viewer' 36 finds a more literal embodiment. In Bontecou's desire to capture '[s]omething soft ... something hard... something aggressive,' we see something of the absurdity in discussed Hesse in Bontecou's to the relation work of present also so often 37 Each artist exploited the potential of the wall-hung work, enjoying the work . deflation, in the case of some of Hesse's works, of the wall even and activation, front in immediately of it. In the light of such radical renegotiations of and space the parameters of the three-dimensional object, to read the works as 'vaginal', 38 Bontecou it, 'reductive'. 'phallic', seems,as put
Carter Ratcliff, in his essay accompanying Bontecou's 1972 retrospective in Chicago described the complexity of her works in terms of their conjunction of 39 biological, 'carapaces, the mechanical and of shells, exposed membranes', whilst also still retaining a reading that highlights the 'powerful specificity of the 40 openings they reveal-eyes, mouths, vaginas'. Not all writers, however were so keen to describe the aperturesin Bontecou's work in terms of bodily orifices. In
36Bontecou, as quoted in Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou's "Warnings"', op.cit., p. 59. 37 Bontecou, as quoted in Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou-Heart of Conquering Darkness', op.cit., p. 44. 38 Ibid. Rather than read her imagery as 'feminine, Hadler asks, is there not something empowering about the aggressive woman, the sexually violent counterpart to the militaristic violence of men in war? Isn't Bontecou, with her soot-covered laundry belts and aggressive imagery, expressing 'a new concept of women's work? ' (Hadler, 'Lee Bontecou-Heart of Conquering Darkness', Ibid. ) Hadler goes on: 'If it has been the role of woman to be the passive does look back defiantly hole-the the the with of gaze, she not eye, the camera now recipient darknessT "mouth (p. the truth", the the and of omnipresent sharp wire, confront with eye-and 44) This supposed empowering of women through a language of aggressivity and 'angry sexuality' (p. 43) does little to reverse the problem of reading Bontecou's work in terms of a ferninised, violently sexual set of images, which I am keen to distance my own reading from. Hadler is drawing upon Nancy Huston's 'The Matrix of War: Mothers and Heroes', in Susan Rubin Suleiman ed., The Female Body in WesternCulture, Cambridge, Mass., 1985. 39 Carter Ratcliff, Lee Bontecou, Chicago, 1972, unpaginated. 40 Ibid.
1965 John Ashbery questioned the widespread sexual reading of her work, as he tried to deflate such metaphorically laden descriptions, pointing out that 'it is hard to feel very erotic about something that looks like the inside of a very old broken41 Other writers, however, were keen to keep the down air-conditioning unit'. ferninised, sexual accountsof her work strongly in play; in 1967 Udo Kultermann described the way in which Bontecou's works' 'holes and bulges' are 'as much a basic Kusama's the of sex-wish as objects overgrown with expression symbolic 42 Writing in 1972, Robert Pincus-Witten wrote about the or nets'. phalluses imagery he Bontecou's sexual work, when refers to the of obvious apparently 'frequent reference to a castration archetype, the vagina dentata' that her works 43 have felt Recent her invite. to compelled to reviewers of work still always seem 44 'allusion' 'ominous dentata'. Whilst her to to an not all work's vagina refer in been keen have to the to attribute sexual readings void writers and critics Bontecou's work, it is a reading that has retained currency even today, which, by her is tempered still somewhat accounts of objects, more nuanced although 45 in referred to, if not condoned, virtually all writing on the artist. The too-easy conflation of the void, 'hole' or 'circle' and feminine artistic practice finds its riposte in the work of male artist Lucio Fontana. Although he had been for many years by the time Bontecou began working, it was not making sculptures first 'penetrated' he first he it 1958 before 1949 the that cut canvas, and was until into it as he abandoned his three-dimensional practice for an prolonged holes, the the wall-mounted specifically with relief, rents and sutures engagement
41 John Ashbery, 'Fires that Burn in the Heart the Void', New York Herald Tribune, Paris, April of 2&, 1965, p. 5. 42 Udo Kultermann, The New Sculpture: Environments and Assemblages,New York and London, 1967, p. 101. 43 Robert Pincus-Witten, Postminimalism into Postmaximalism: American Art 1966-1986, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1987, p. 91. 44 Christopher Knight, 'Bontecou ...Sculpture": Hybrid Eruptions', Los Angeles Times, Monday, A ril 5h, 1993. 4T See Lucy R. Lippard 'What is Female ImageryT, , reprinted in From the Center., Feminist Essays on Women's Art, New York, 1976, pp. 80-83 for a debate on the uses and Lippard in 'feminine imagery' the contemporary women's artistic practice. phrase applicability of is keen to stress that understandings of 'female imagery' in actual fact mean 'female sexual imagery'. Lippard lists the usual motifs attributed to female sexual imagery as 'circles, domes, eggs, spheres, boxes, biomorphic shapes,maybe a certain striation or layering', but claims that theseare just too 'specific'. (p. 8 1). See also 'Judy Chicago talking to Lucy Lippard', op.cit., for a discussion of the usefulnessof positing a feminine imagery in women's art.
46 Embarkingon a project of spatialinvestigation,caughtup it could incorporate. within a wider project that seemedto imply the ruin, or undoing of the material structureof the object whilst at the sametime emphasisingits sheermateriality, Fontanaclaimed in 1963 '1 am seekingto representthe voidW. Both Bontecou andFontanahad spentthe early stagesof their sculpturalcareersmoulding small ceramicand terracottafigurines and animals,beforethey eachabandonedsmallin late fifties. dimensional By around1957Fontanashifted the three objects scale towardlargerwall-mountedreliefs and,one year later,Bontecoualso movedfrom black boxes larger her her to the small and reliefs, own explorationof constructing 49 the void and 'blackness'. If Bontecou's works might be said to embody 'feminine imagery', then one need further Fontana's from find look than the to the own works sixties any not form. 'feminised' In an easy conflation of such of woman artist and complication Concetto spaziale (Spatial Concept) (Ill. 2.28) from 1963 the canvas has been is bright slit along the central vertical. Fontana would make the and pink, painted before back into then the edges of the canvas and coating the canvas pulling cut them in thick coats of paint. In these works the thickly coated acrylic lips of the far that unmistakably evoke vaginal readings surface are more potent that ruptured any such abstractedreference one might discover in Bontecou's work. Rather than connect the two via a formal analysis of their 'sexual' imagery, however, it is the sharedcommitment to exploring the void and spacethat is most both Fontana in and Bontecou's work. More than simply an investigation striking into the spatial conditions of the wall-relief, what Fontana and Bontecou share is the violent way in which they carry out their respective projects. In his Concetto Spaziale (Spatial Concepts)works, Fontana would slash the canvas repeatedly, as though a large claw has burst through the membrane of the monochrome canvas; been has back in the canvas where peeled others, and away to reveal the whilst
46 Lucio Fontana 1899-1968: a retrospective, New York, 1977, p. 17-19. 47 Lucio Fontana, from an interview in 1963, as quoted in Sarah Whitfield, Lucio Fontana, London, 1999, p. 148. 48Thanks Alex Potts first drawing to my attention to the way in which Fontana's works might also be imagined in relation to Bontecou.
black backing of the piece, the slit is more unctuous, as though it has slowly come brink its being frozen liquid the of split open. at surface apart, Just as Samaras's incorporation of knives and pins into his boxes demonstrated how his work 'cuts' into the space of the Minimal in a way that functions as a kind of oblique 'linking' device, so it is the violent exploration and cutting into space that also 'links' Bontecou and Fontana. However violent that cut into hole be, for Fontana the threat suggestedis only ever might space, or punctured partial. The cut remains neatly contained within the frame of the work, whereas in Bontecou's reliefs the void instead strains at the limit of its containment, figuring a tension between the void and the surface from which it protrudes.
It was this differencebetweentheir work that Judd also picked up on when he comparedFontana'sworks to the traditions of Europeanpainting in which the frame remainsthe defining limit of the image. Juddpoints out that the 'slits' in Fontana'scanvaseswere alwaysretainedwithin the rectangularframe, unlike the jutting void in Bontecou'swork where 'the peripheryis as much a part of the 49 distinctions between It is the the centre'. painterly edgesand as single'structure frame Fontana's figure that space ground, and outside slits engage and centres, Bontecou's Whilst the sexually charged works strain against. and which with, forms Bontecou's the the conflation work persisted, of so-called sexual of reading defined in typically terms of the charged rhetoric, crudely a violently within found formulation in form its instead the of a rather most nuanced vagina, 50 description 'abatised Judd, in her the whose of critic, orifice work as unlikely like a 'strangeand dangerousobject'51remainsone of the strongestpieces of her work. on writing ***
49 Donald Judd, 'Lee Bontecou', Arts Magazine,
no.39, April 1965, pp. 17-21, reprinted in Donald Judd.,The Complete Writings op.cit., pp. 178-180, p. 178. 50Donald Judd, 'Specific Objects' , reprinted in Ibid., pp. 181-189,p. 188. 51Ibid.
When Judd reviewed Bontecou's exhibition
at Leo Castelli's gallery in 1963 he
52 Tontecou best is one of the wrote artists working anywhere', a claim he was to back up in his 1965 full-length article on Bontecou, where he proclaimed her 'one of the first to use a three-dimensional form that was neither painting nor 53 Coming from the sculpture'. critic who was to publish in the same year his now-seminal essay 'Specific Objects', regarded as one of the first statements on the new Minimalist
object, that opened with the claim 'half or more of the best 54 few in last has been the years this was new work neither painting nor sculpture', high praise indeed. As Alex Potts has pointed out, in his article on Bontecou Judd employed an extraordinary mode of description which, delivered in his customary deadpan style, activates a heavily metaphoric reading of Bontecou's work that language that minimal retains of description and insistence on the nevertheless 55 importance formal the
Judd's account of the work is a curiously sexualised one, in which he draws out describes as the 'psychosexual
56 In the space of a few paragraphs, Judd moves from a work.
description that absolutely tallies with the formal structure of the specific object, 57 'strange ' in is 'seen with terror, as would a beached to one object, which this 58 hidden in the The black is
mine or a well
understoodas a warhead,
and the 'loricate' welded structure as a 'redoubt,' evoking a language of war and aggressivity in which 'the image also extends from bellicosity, both martial and aspects which do not equate - to invitation, erotic and 59 deathly as well'. psychological, and psychological -
To an extent, Judd's focus on the aggressivity of Bontecou's objects is part of his discussion of the types of material the new object-makers were employing. wider Judd refers to Flavin's use of industrial strip lights, and to Oldenburg's use of 52Donald Judd, 'Lee Bontecou at Leo Castelli', Arts Magazine no. 35, December 1960, 56 p. 53Donald Judd, 'Lee Bontecou', op.cit., p. 178. 54Judd, 'Specific Objects', op.cit., p. 181. 55Alex Potts, The Sculptural Imagination, New Haven and London, 2000, p. 274. 56 Ibid. 57Judd, 'Lee Bontecou', op.cit., p. 179. 58Ibid. 59Ibid.
formica, those working with as other artists materials such as as well vinyl, aluminium, cold-rolled steel and plexiglas, materials that Judd identified as 60 being 'directly' For Judd, the obdurate nature of due 'specific', to their used . these materials, (under which heading would also be grouped Bontecou's use of dirty burlap and tarpaulin sheeting), lends these materials and, therefore these 61 'aggressive' aSpeCt. Although in this instance it is the non-art look of objects, an industrial, found and prefabricated materials that Judd addresses,in his writing on Bontecou he focuses on the aggressivity of the works in a way that exceedsthe her Instead, in heavy-duty toughness this instance Judd ties the of materials. mere so-called 'aggression' of the material to the metaphoric aggressionthat the works suggest, an aggressionwhich, for Judd, is fundamentally eroticised and sexually violent. Judd's intimate engagement with Bontecou's objects, both formally and, more 'erotic' in their terms of and 'deathly' connotations would seemfairly powerfully, his her drawing to comments restricted were practice. pedestrian
does feature her drawing last the the article of page works, Judd restricts although his comments to her three-dimensional objects, engendering a highly provocative forms. devotes The Judd the abstracted object of most of the article to reading discussing is an early relief from 1961, with a faceted surface of sectionsbreaking image in frame Judd describes 'crest'. the top the the of what at right as a of out What is surprising in Judd's account is the selection of works he discusses. Although he mentions the bandsaw-teethbarred works, and cavities blocked with metal grilles, it is works such as Untitled (Ill. 2.29) from 1961, that he is most heavily loaded interpretation by. This the makes of the objects all the enamoured has he 'Militaristic' the seemingly other more as, although works startling more from 1961, in it is (111.2.30), Untitled the more overtly abstract mind, also such as pieces that he takes as his main focus.
Featuring two cavities, one slightly larger placed above the lower one, Untitled from 1961 has echoes of the gas mask imagery in its combination of canvas and from Eyelets the the though of cavity, as visible around sides are a cut up metal. 60Judd,'SpecificObjects', op.cit., p. 187.
have been barred The tent. voids of with two straight or piece uniform, army forward distance, lurch quite a and with the carapaceof the cavities metal sheets, themselves punctured with small holes, carbuncle-like pockets suggesting yet Situated between hidden spaces. somewhere centres and an android and a more literal, head, too too militaristic in their appearancefor these works were gun Judd. I-Es one complaint is that Bontecou overloads her works, and he implores her to be more 'economical162in her constructions. Judd wrote '[t]he reliefs were 63 be first. Some Just as he complained that reduction should next'. simple at 64 far her 'literary' Kusama went too with references of shoes and gloves in he 'Driving Image Show' in 1964, so he describes Bontecou's more complex reliefs, bisected holes 'ferocious in literal barred toothy too their and cavities as a with 65so that the work 'nearly lapses into ordinary imagery'. It is the moment way', before their switch into merely, or obviously literal depiction that arrests the for Judd, 'teeth', If, barred the works with grimacing mouths viewer so strongly. or vagina-like openings operate too overtly on a register of illusion or figuration, then it is the freeing up of such fixed associations that he highlights as most both he The erotic and martial so eloquently and vehemently violence, potent. from formal but from Judd's then, these object's specificity, not, stems invokes 66 functioning 'threatening the and possibly object'. encounter with A hostile encounter is stagedthrough Judd's use of such combative language. A here, is Potts Judd's is being the question on what, or staged who. compares war language in his Bontecou his Claes to writing on sexualised article a on of use Oldenburg's 'soft sculpture', where light switches are identified as nipples, and 67 forms he described 'grossly the soft malleable uses are as anthropomorphised'. It is the turn that Judd's anthropomorphism takes that interests me in relation to Bontecou's work, where the erotically charged notion of soft fabric as a nipple takes on a rather more sexually aggressive tone.
The thorny problem of
body in here the the of sculptural and return practice recurs anthropomorphism 62 Ibid.,
63 Ibid. 64 Ibid.,
p. 135. 65 Ibid., 'Lee Bontecou', Ibid., p. 178. 66 Ibid. 67 Judd, 'Specific Objects', Ibid., p. 189.
all the force of the infantile
drives, as Oldenburg's
light 'nipples', switch when read through Judd's account of anthropomorphic' Bontecou, return with all the aggressive, violent force of the Kleinian part68 object. Referring to the extraordinary passage in which Judd sets out to describe Bontecou's works, in particular the black voids that probe forward, away from the object, Potts points out that Judd's usually vigorous formal and logical style gives fantasy 'that is bit to sexual of every a rhetoric as self-aware as anything he way 69 logic'. Potts arguesthat Judd's attempt at keeping both writes about their formal the sexually charged encounter these works evoke and the resolutely abstract 'specific image is Judd's 'having it both the as object' a of result of specificity 70 invokes Judd deathly, In the the aggressive,the sexual and passage, one ways' . the bodily, whilst all the time retaining the works position as specific object, insisting upon the materiality of the void as 'object'-that Frank Stella's famous dictum-when to repeat see' you 71 black hole; it is one. black hole does not allude to a
'what you see is what Judd claimed that '[t]he
Describing Bontecou's 'grim, abyssal' objects in 'Specific Objects', Judd wrote
68 Mignon Nixon has written about the recent tendenciesof certain women artists working in the 1990s to reject Lacanian-basedtheoretical approachesin favour of a Kleinian-based framework in drives, infantile the as ungendered,non-regressivestates,rather than structural phasesto be which have through, provided a more powerful interpretative model to work with. Nixon makes worked a fine case for a Kleinian reading of the object, and her engagement with the orally destructive drive and account of the schizoid splitting of the good and bad part-objects would make for a fascinating framework within which to think about Bontecou's works. See Mignon Nixon, 'Bad Enough Mother', op.cit. See also my unpublished MA thesis From Eccentric to Geometric: Hesse, Minimalism and the Kleinian Position, Essex University, 2000, in which I deploy a Kleinian framework in relation to the processesof exchange and incorporation that took place between Minimalism and the work of Eva Hesse between the years 1965-1967. Thank you to Margeret Iversen, who also suggestedthat a Kleinian framework might provide a fruitful way into thinking about Bontecou's objects. 69Potts, op.cit., p. 274. 70 Ibid., 278. p. 71 The full quote reads: 'Usually an image is a form which primarily suggestssomething else; so far an image has been ambiguously descriptive; it has been dependantand intermediate. Bontecou hasn't changed the nature of the image but has extremely changed its emphasis. The dominant image, the central hole surrounding the canvas, is not primarily allusive and descriptive. The black hole does not allude to a black hole; it is one. The image does suggestother things, but by is Judd, 'Lee image Bontecou', op.cit., p. 178. things'. thing the among similar one analogy;
This threatening and possibly functioning object is at eye level. The image cannot be contemplated; it has to be dealt with as an object, at least viewed with puzzlement and wariness, as would any strangeobject, and at most seenwith terror [ ... ] The objects fragments loricate; of old tarpaulins are attached to the black are Black twisted wire. orificial washers are attached to with rods some pieces; some have bandsaw blades within the mouth. This redoubt is a mons Veneris. "The warhead will be mated at the firing position". The image also extends from bellicosity, both martial and psychological - aspects which do not equate - to invitation, erotic and psychological, and deathly as well. 72 Judd's odd description of Bontecou's works, as conflating 'something as social as 73 war to something as private as sex', does indeed suggest an uneasy attempt on Judd's behalf to incorporate Bontecou's objects within the rhetoric of nonallusory object making that sought the replacement, not entrenchment,of outdated European modes of painterly, illusionistic works of art. More than merely a blip in Judd's systernatisationof sculptural practice, (although a brief glance at the list 'Specific his Objects' in included just how article raises questions of artists of 74 description Judd intended), this actually much of a system or collective is the the and violent shot through with the notion of the sexual of conflation feminine. When Judd fundamentally 'Bontecou's claims as reliefs are aggressor 75 feels knows herself, it of what she and of would seem that Judd is an assertion female toward ambivalent attitude a rather sexuality through his evoking Judd 'the be the to the and quote sexual violent; again : of warhead will conflation firing This is is the clearly problematic, position'. and a result not of at mated Judd's misogyny, but evidence, rather, of his attempt to resolve the dichotomy he has unwittingly set up between the 'allusional' and the resolute material Bontecou's work. of specificity
That is, the 'having it both ways' of Judd's
72 Ibid., p. 179. 73 Ibid.
74It is importantto emphasisethe way in which Juddfelt Bontecou'swork absolutelyembodied key problems in contemporary sculpture. A large section toward the end of 'Specific Objects' focuseson both Bontecou and Oldenburg, situating their practices alongside their contemporaries. It is for this reason that his article on Bontecou is so curious. See the introduction to this thesis where I address the peculiarities of 'Specific Objects', arguing that, far from its reading as a is far Judd 'minimal' the proposing a more nuancedand wide-ranging sculpture, of new manifesto be simply reduced to a sweeping account of the cannot nevertheless which, model of practice contemporary art scene. 75 Ibid.
in his but flaw is text, a condition or symptom of so much a not argument Bontecou's work itself. In some ways, though, Judd seems unable to disentangle the problems entrenched It was not until two years later that a response to the
within his dichotomy.
in Lucy the sexual was again addressed abstractly seriously, of emergence Lippard's article accompanying the exhibition and the following
year in an extended article published in the Hudson Review,
977 In Lippard discusses the work of Presumptive. 'Eros these articles entitled Bontecou, alongside that of Samaras, Westermann and Hesse. In these articles Lippard refuses to accept that the works she discusses can be fixed in terms of a Lippard is in that claims sexual metaphor superseded works reading. sexualised by artists such as Hesse, Westermann, Samaras, Lindsey Decker and Frank 78 'formal that stresses the 'non-verbal Lincoln Viner, with a understatement' 80 79 'gaping Bontecou's how the reliefs as an example of citing response', 83 become t82 'unexpected 'subjugated formal to 'evocative element'81 may ends' . Lippard claims that in these resolutely abstract works of art '[m]etaphor is freed from subjective bonds.
Ideally, a bag remains a bag and does not become a
uterus, a tube is a tube and not a phallic symbol, a semi-sphere is just that and not 84 These artists, Lippard writes, want their work to be freed breast'. up, to refuse a 'their forms interpretations be their that to of work, preferring and stable readings 85 interpreted'. In her instead 'Eros Presumptive', felt,
of read or
in her the that she was allying moment sixties which writing on those at written Eva Hesse, 'eccentric Jean Linder abstraction' artists such as and Keith so-called Sonnier with the theoretical tropes of Minimalism, Lippard claimed:
76 Lucy Lippard, 'Eccentric Abstraction', Art Intemational, vol. 10, no.9, November 1966, pp. 2840. 77 Lucy Lippard, 'Eros Presumptive' [ 1967], reprinted in Battcock, Ibid., pp. 209-222. 78Lippard, 'Eccentric Abstraction', op.cit., p. 39. 79 Ibid. 80Ibid., 28. p. 81Ibid. 82 Ibid. 83 Ibid. 84Ibid., 39. p. 85Ibid.
Younger artists today, however, no longer depend on symbols, dream images, and the "reconciliation of distant realities"; they minimize the allusive factor in an attempt to fuse formal and evocative elements. Ideally, form and content are an obsolete dualism. 86
Echoing to a large extent the languageof specificity that Judd was arguing for two deploying is Lippard a mode of addressing abstract form through earlier, years is, that erotic allusion, arguing that abstracted eroticism is more eroticism, Lippard literal is using Judd's own rhetoric, at the same than erotica. powerful time allowing it to incorporate the visceral, bodily and erotic metaphors that such objects may entail. To an extent, then, Lippard's claims in this article may be have I been those very addressing problems as raising in regard to understood Judd's account of Lee Bontecou's structures and his complicated working through having both form the a works specificity of and metaphoric imagery, notion of of 87 imagery. 'secondary' By 1975, however, Lippard had 'primary' and retracted or those earlier claims that privileged the abstract form over the actual imagery suggested.
Lippard claimed that she felt obliged, as part of the male,
intellectually-oriented Minimal art scene at the time, to incorporate a Minimalist by to the early seventies,when, she was systematically refute something rhetoric, has 'the breast if know damn time to come call a semisphere a claimed, we she well that's what it suggests,instead of repressing the association and negating an been has dormant except in the work of a small number of that area of experience
86Lippard, 'Eros Presumptive', in Battcock, op.cit., p. 212. 87
in his article.
here that his argument demonstratesJudd's determination to 'have it both ways', as Potts so neatly is dependant in Bontecou's work there is a Judd's Here, it. the that argument upon acceptance put form is, imagery, the that neverthelessmanagesto convey meaning that resolutely abstract primary that extends from 'something as social as war to something as private as sex', and also that there is is 'literal' in its imagery that too too suggestive, allusion. In this instance, it is the secondary a 6crest' like image he seesat the upper corner of Untitled (1961) which is the 'too literal' aspectof the work: 'In the work described, one of the great flaring forms arcs across an upper corner, suggesting a crest. This is an older, less formidable kind of image'. Confused as his claim might be, his description of the secondary imagery as being 'too literal' echoes his similar views on certain works of Kusama's, where he felt her work was ultimately let down through its being too literal, or figurative. Ultimately, it seemsthat Judd is trying to claim that in Bontecou's work, she managesto achieve the right balancebetween the two, something Kusama did not.
To see a semisphereas a breast does not mean it cannot be seen as a
semisphereand as endlessother things as well'.
It seemsthat for both Judd and Lippard, it is the phantasmatic return of the body that is at stake in Bontecou's work. What is so startling about this return is the fundamentally violent, aggressive and feminised turn this body takes, particularly in Judd's text. This troping of the female figure as an aggressive, violent threat has been described by Barbara Creed as the 'monstrous feminine'. In her book The Monstrous Feminine: film,
feminism, psychoanalysis (1993), Creed
horror film theory which always casts woman in the the of most view challenges 89 'monstrous' She that the the argues origins of stemsnot from the role of victim. female, from but body the maternal one. Creed reformulates those claims male that focus on woman or the mother as castrated, instead claiming that she functions just as powerfully 'monstrous', if not more so, when cast as castrator. Creed claims that when Freud and Lacan cast woman as castrated,or as 'lack' in their psychoanalytic models, they are in fact repressing the figure of the castrating in Creed's 'monstrous-feminine'. terms, the thefemme or, castratrice, woman,
Of course, this move to see woman as aggressor rather than victim is deeply is issue Creed acknowledges, as she tracks instances of the an and problematic, in films becoming psychotic, crazed and irrational. To woman strong, wronged cast woman as castrator rather than castrated, whilst neatly inserting 'woman' back into the psychoanalytic domain from which she has previously been remaindered as 'lack' by both Freud and Lacan, raises difficult questions in relation to the patriarchal framework of psychosis and aggression she is placed 90 As Mignon Nixon has recently pointed out in her important article on within. women's artistic practice, aggressivity and violence are not the sole preserve of swoman', but, rather, 'aggression-and especially efforts to suppress it-rather
88 Lucy Lippard, 'The Women's Art Movement-What NextT, The Pink Glass Swan: Selected feminist essays on art, New York, 1995, p. 83. Briony Fer discusses this point in her article 'Objects Beyond Objecthood', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 22, no. 2,1999, pp. 25-36. 89 Barbara Creed, The Monstrous Feminine: Film, Feminism, Psychoanalysis, London, 1993. 90 See footnote 38 for a discussion of Mona Hadler's claim that the aggressivity of Bontecou's ferninised be of as a positive model violence, as somehow 'empowering' reclaimed should work the woman artist.
91 is development, As Nixon the pivotal site of psychic struggle'. than sexual framework Kleinian-based in to a relation out, of infantile drives, points aggression and the logic of the part-object, aggressivity and a desire to attack, swallow, bite and incorporate, function at the level of all subjectivities. Klein's from divergence Freudian dramatic theory, Nixon writes, 'is her refusal of most 92 Rather than the father or mother figure being the the primacy of castration'. subjects under attack in the infant's earliest stages of psychic development, it instead those part-objects that inhabit the infant's environment, which are under female is but It an exclusively construction, a necessarystage of prenot attack. Oedipal development. It is on the site of the pre-Oedipal, that is, neither fixed masculine or feminine, that I argue the reliefs of Bontecou are also situated. Remembering Bontecou's own plea that the individual make of her work what they will, I want to try and wrest Bontecou's work from a reading that ties her feminist both to moment of a art production in the early seventies, work (remembering that by 1970 Bontecou had totally withdrawn from the art world) for their violently sexualised account of her that to are problematic and readings work. I want to highlight the need for interpretation between the two, to take up Bontecou's invitation and think about her work in terms of the specificities of that one-one-one encounter between ob ect and spectator when faced with her wallmounted works. ***
I first saw Bontecou's 1961 work Untitled (Ill. 2.31) when it was still inside its darkened facility in the storage of the Whitney Museum in New packing case, York. It incorporates rope alongside the more familiar materials of grimy burlap, large the and metal armature casing, with steel void barred in this instance welded bandsaw Standing in double teeth. of sharp row alone a such close proximity with
91 Nixon, 'Bad Enough Mother', op. cit., p. 79. 92 Ibid., p. 78. In many ways, a Kleinian reading could serve as the model for this chapter.
However, although allowing for a slippage of positions in which neither part-object nor subject position is fixed, it is, fundamentally, the void as absent,rather than as part-object, that I am keen to insist upon in this chapter, although there is a large area of cross-over in which the phantasies attachedto that void absolutely coaslescewith Klein's understandingof the part-object.
to this imposing six foot high work was unnerving. The urge to read the crater as bodily, evoking biting, chomping jaws, or, in the case of the black empty void in the work on the right, as a blind staring eye, or sexual orifice, was almost irresistible. Limply hanging down from the side of the central cavity is a thick follow instinct it. The defying to their tug the and spectator piece of rope, in by the the which tactile contact with an gallery viewer restraints put upon drawn fetishised; is here forbidden is the to the rope which viewer are object (will in the the teeth terms of a possible activation of object much promises so holes the open suddenly snap together, will other peripheral comically, chomp bring but ) ourselves to reach out and grab. cannot which we shut? When confronted with one of these objects in the flesh, the smell of the fabric and is is inside In tangible the that crater the unsettling. one air stale cold metal, and in I Bontecou's to closework, when attempted photograph a void encounter with deep into hole, hand the trying to get a shot of the underside of inserted I my up, hand in I too my quickly, resulting a useless shot that the surface. removed denoted the nervous shake of my hand rather than a detail of the work. Just as Audrey Hepburn's anxiety at inserting her hand into the famous Mouth of Truth in William Wyler's Roman Holiday found its concrete realisation in Gregory Peck's (111.2.32 in bitten Ill. 2.33) hole his hand having the and so off, pretence of Bontecou's work seemssomehow less inert and passive when it is my arm that is 93 boundaries liminal it, are at stake. stretchedinside when my Eclipsing readings of the orifice as vagina dentata, or open mouth, is another As Otto Fenichel the so eye. psychoanalyst orifice, charged equally psychically 'to look devour'94 Fenichel language, in it, to at = psychoanalytic succinctly put . libidinised in life, incorporative the of role eye psychic the aggressive, probes folklore imbue Greek fairy that the eye with tales, accounts myths and citing Basilisk's From that turns to the glance you qualities. aggressive or magical, Hood's Red Riding that she noted grandmother the eyes of enormous stone, 93Both ElizabethSmith and Mona Hadlerpoint out Bontecou'sinterestin the Mouth of Truth in Hadler, Sinister', 'Abstract T. Smith, Elizabeth cit., and the op. artist. their respectivearticleson 'Lee Bontecou-Heart of a ConqueringDarkness',op.cit. 94 Otto Fenichel,'The ScopophilicInstinct and Identification', , The CollectedPapersof Otto Fenichel,HannaFenichelandDavid Rapaporteds.,London,1954,pp. 373-397,p. 373.
before being swallowed whole, even to Freud's own library, where, in Hoffman's The Sandman children are threatened with sand being thrown into their eyes to has haunted literature folklore the them eye and sleep, make threatening orifice.
as a potentially
Those oracular phantasies embodied within the scopophilic
gaze of the viewing subject become complicated when that eye/void is, in the case of Bontecou's reliefs, vacant, or 'blind'.
Also interesting here is that the most
from the the female body, but the with comparison eye stems not common psychic Fenichel explains, such readings are never fixed, for 'the eye as although, male; 95 but (and the
symbolizes not only
Imagining the void here as a libidinised orifice gives rise to a shifting site of from fantasy dentata, devouring the to the ranging vagina psychic orally sadistic drive There is a palpably the to the and scopophilic of gaze. aggressive mouth, libidinal charge to these unflinching bodily correlates that hang at head-height to invokes highly-charged that eat us a encounter in which meet, greet, or possibly front in be Fenichel body the to threat. of work seems under position and my fundamentally the sadistic nature of the scopophilic gaze, the picks up on 'looking'. Identification that the gaze exceeds mere of of the eye as sexualisation describes. incorporates Judd If, as that sexually charged encounter orifice sexual Fenichel claims, the first point of identification of the eye is with the penis, then a in Bontecou's the of occurs case work. of possession reversal However, rather than cast that switch in terms of a reversal, I want to think of it in terms of a removal of those terms. Between those works of Bontecou's featuring barred cavities, with their rows of bandsaw teeth, and those punctuated with hole from holes, the occurs, as actively aggressive to its being a shift vacant lure However, just the the of void poses as strong a threat to receptive. passively for bounds incorporation by liminal the teeth; the void as gnashing utter my involves just as visceral an act of dissolution. Bontecou always refused to discuss how or what her works might mean, specifically that central crater. What kind of be figured in in 'worldscape' these that topography works a might map which a is When is than there? actually what rather mapped onto the plotted, absence 95Ibid., 390. p. 118
Bontecou's the topography seem to the of coordinates spectator, of worldscape blind find those the their segments at missing or which spots at point converge analogue in the spectator's psychic terrain, a worldscape that Bontecou claimed she wanted to 'mentally scrape'. Whatever else might be at stake in interpreting these works, then, from the notion of their embodying a kind of 'feminine imagery', to their being three-dimensional counterpartsto the muted, collaged patches of colour found in synthetic cubism, it is through the engagementof the spectator, whom Bontecou wished to 'mentally her The to twists of sharp metal wire that that activate work. she sought scrape', fabric fixing it damage to the edges of the cavity opening the skin, pierce and barbed-wire fence, a warning to to the though viewer, as a warning provide a stark inside. The have dare in tears that trespass small appeared several might whoever loses its demonstrate fabric time, the elasticity over skin on the surface as works the damage it may in turn inflict upon us, a threat stated even more viscerally in those reliefs incorporating the rows of bandsaw teeth. Any tactile, close-up intimacy with the work is abruptly curtailed by the series of spiky twists or sharp teeth, that will prove as damaging to our touch as they are to the fabric they already shred and tear, scratching and scraping our soft flesh. To scrapemeans to scratch away, to remove or reveal an underside, that which is hidden. Finding a literal counterpart in the construction of her own works then, whose 'insides' are on display for all to see, with the seams,stains and working process on show as though the work is somehow turned inside-out, Bontecou's desire to metaphorically perform the same operation on the viewer, of subcutaneous scraping away of our selves,resonateswith aggressionand violence. That engagementwith the viewer of Bontecou's work, whose linýiinal boundaries in front body are put under pressure space of the object, finds its and physical itself. in the the attack also on space object's of sculpture analogue
installation shot taken of Bontecou's show at Leo Castelli in 1960 (111.2.34), is Facing these works straight on, one's the the under. object pressure articulates black just drawn is the to craters, which are crater, or usually situated offeye listing directly from from the ahead, or slightly protruding off-kilter work, centre the square or rectangular metal frame to which they are fixed.
Varying from 119
single cavity to double, or even multiple openings, the series of holes that punctuate the surfaces of Bontecou's work repeat when hung together across the gallery wall. There is the suggestion that the depth of the black cavities continues inward, and back into the wall, casting the work as a container. At the same time, however, they seem to threaten to spill out and over, pouring into and pervading the space of the gallery, and, more threateningly, the space of the spectator in front of it. The photograph accompanying a review in a French newspaper of Bontecou's work on show in Kassel, Germany for Documenta 3, from 1964 (Ill. 2.35), in which a male viewer inserts his head inside a cavity neatly captures the sense of impending violence and damage to one's liminal boundaries under examination here. This spectator's desire to examine the void has been fulfilled at the expense of losing himself inside it. Unlike the way in which the spectator $peers'into Samaras's boxes, in which the physical threat to one's body is only head loss this the viewer's of raises the stakes in terms of the kind of partial, Bontecou's bodily assault sculpture enacts. wholesale
(at this spectator'sloss)is What this sidewaysview of the work also demonstrates the sheerphysicality of the void that assertsitself both at the expenseof the spectatorand of the previously safe spaceof sculptureitself as a thing to be looked Like the tin can that glints up from the water surface, and at. absorbed back at the youngLacansitting on a fishing boat, the realisationthat things in the look back demands at us a radical negotiation of one's subject might world being in that of world seeing and seen. That the void looks back at me, position draws insides to the gaze, attention my of the object,that 'depth of field' returns 96 'is in by Lacan points out, no way mastered me'. Instead,the object which, as 97 back 'grasps 'looks' that me, solicits me at everymoment'. It capturesme at the point of light, which trapsthe subjectand, in the caseof Bontecou'srelief in this fundamentally a out plays violent destabilisingor effacementof the photograph, subject,an effect that I describedin chapteronein anothercontext,asthe object's 'wrong-footing' of the spectator.
96 Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, London, 1998, p. 96. 97 Ibid.
I want to conclude with another account of a subject suddenly thrown into disarray, this time not by light, but by darkness. This account is offered, by Merleau-Ponty in 1962outlined,in an accountof who, surprisingly, somewhat the way in which subjectsexperienceobjectsin the dark, a frightening encounter in which one's spatially bound situation unravels,and the distancebetweenthe subjectand the object of their perceptionis put under pressure. I want to think aboutthe void in Bontecou'swork in relation to Merleau-Ponty'sdescription,in which he imaginesthe unbinding of those spatially articulatedexperienceshe 98 discusseselsewhere. Merleau-Pontyis thinking aboutthe bodily experiencewe encounterat night, when standingin absolutenocturnaldarkness.He invokesthe being devoured by blinded the subject space, as distance between of notion 99 100 is, he 'abolished'. 'clear Night is not andarticulate' object writes, subjectand he before that me, goes on, but instead it 'enwraps me and stands an object infiltrates through all my senses[ ... I almost destroyingmy personalidentity"01 Spaceis not a setting, an ether in which things float, but a connectivedevice day, light boundaries from thoseof in to the of allows me articulate my which, others. This disarticulationof one's boundariesthat occursin that encounterwith blacknessdescribesthe experienceof works by Bontecou. If, as Merleau-Ponty body 'the is a frontier which ordinary spatialrelationsdo of my outline claimed, 102 not cross', then the threat of transgressing,or abolishing those boundaries becomesboth physicalandpsychic. Bontecou's objects demand that you approach with caution. They are oppressive objects, with their own peculiar smell, emitting a strange aura, in which the temperatureinside the cavity feels several degreescooler than the air outside. For fabrics decaying Bontecou's torn their and surfaces, objects retain a strikingly all brown The from tawny the that smooth, and rusty reds of surface, element. a vital distance appear as though they are two-dimensional paintings, reveal themselves 98 It is interesting to note, of course, the centrality of Merleau-Ponty's writing for Robert Morris, account of and other artists and writers during this period, where his phenomenological for how to as a almost read model we encounter Minimalist sculpture. subjectivity came 99 Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of Perception, , Colin Smith trans., London, 2002, p. 330.
102Ibid., 112. p.
be dank The to spiky, rusty, and smelly objects. air is upon closer examination felt as though a shallow breath on your face, the head-height void seems poised for action, whether to wink, blink, yawn, bite or grin. It seeks my attention, my body as counterpart, it captures me, the absorbing draw of the velvet-black crater seducesme utterly. It demandsmy bodily participation, a nervy complicity. The threat to my space is tangible, and the implicit suggestion that it might spill out and over, incorporating the space of the room within its epidermal covering, or burst its is its out of skin, unsettling, presenting a threat to my own and seams split body and entrappedposition in front of it. The voracity of Bontecou's reliefs stems from the way in which they engage in incorporating At the outside spacewithin their spiky, and sucking once space. stained, sharp and torn carapaces, at the same time spilling out, and into that kind Mark that they spatial a of ambiguity shares much with embody space, Cousin's investigation into the ontology of the category of 'the ugly'.
'beautiful' objects find their physical counterparts in the world, in most part finds Cousins, its definition by in the ugly object, claims all, only upon agreed terms of what it is not. The spatial (and ontological) status of the ugly object is be is that it encroachesupon the spaceand category that can claimed uncertain, all is 'for the things, ugly object voracious and, through contamination, will of other demonstrates This that an important aspect of the ugly the zone. entire consume 103 including [ ] its is The to the the space space of relation subject. object ... 'is but is the object, whose excessive ugly presence not static always of voracity between it devours both its own space and the the and subject"04 space eating up the space of the subject, activating a breakdown of subj ectivity that finds its Bontecou. in the of wall-mounted reliefs embodiment This encounter between object and subject comes under attack as one's subject lost. between What if is the or space myself and the object relinquished, position becomes, as Merleau-Ponty depth without
describes my bodily experience in the dark, 'pure or background, without
surfaces and without
103Cousins,'The Ugly', AA Files, 28,1994, 63. p. no. 104Ibid.
"05 When those voids are understood in terms of a distance separatingit from me? voracity-of
vision, of desire, as lack, whatever-that
damaging to me. Instead of my and potentially physical rather more viscerally analogue,the object becomesmy aggressor,the impending source of my undoing. The spectator becomes incorporated into the object, ensnared by it, through standing too close to the void, or voids, in all their material facture and 'absent', 'not-there'. as status metaphoric
I may be swallowed whole, or
devoured in small, scratchy, bodily fragments. A phantasmatic shredding of my boundaries is threatened,as the barred teeth and hundreds of dusty spikes of wire trace my outline, scratching into my flesh. I disappear in the presence of that least, I a am made part, or at complicit party to. which object of
dernaterialisation of the object is here reconfigured as a war being waged on the in Bontecou's the that, case of work, extends also to a war sculpture of space waged on the spaceof my own subjectivity. ***
If by the 1960s, sculptural practice can be crudely schernatisedin terms of the dernaterialisation from the to of objecthood subsequent specificity of the move be Bontecou's then can said to exemplify that shift. Rather than reliefs object, focus from a switch of object to subject-that is, the space articulating merely installation, the object which performance and conceptual art have of outside do investigate-what Bontecou's is to works maintain the tension between sought the two. The object is not relinquished, neither is the space and position of the it is between Instead, it. facing the the two that is dramatised. encounter viewer Just as Abraham and Torok describe the situation whereby the subject, indeed the 'whole world' might be 'swallowed up' in the cataclysmic disaster of the secret being spilled, so the void in Bontecou's reliefs ultimately stands as an its that encrypted secret, with secret centre that traps rather than of embodiment intrigues the spectator, enacting on a physical level the psychic consequencesof 105Merleau-Ponty, op.eit., p. 330.
106 the discovery of that secret as traumatic crypt ensconcedwithin the subject. To Bontecou's to the origins of overwhelming, large wallreturn, once more, mounted reliefs, it is those small, soot-black boxes that, for Bontecou, functioned as 'both secrets and shelter' which, harboured at the heart of her own working kernel this of secrecy around which all later works clearly articulate practice, most in immanent turn, that threat of irruption, or structure and which, were structured, swallowing whole, that the void threatens.
106Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, 'The Topography of Reality: Sketching a Metapsychology Chicago, 1, 1994, 158. Kernel, Shell in 77ze  Secrets', the vol. p. and of
CHAPTER THREE Bric-a-Brac: The Objects of HC Westermann Korea (111.3.1)is a glossy pine cabinet made in 1965 by H. C. Westermann at the height of his twenty-five year career. It has a glass-fronted door that opens onto five compartments, each of which is filled with an array of found objects. From the ivory shark fin to the knotted ball of twine, the slats of stacked wood and the smooth white pebble, the contents seem less to constitute a whole than comprise a cabinet of curiosities, a cornucopia of juxtaposed random objects. Connectedby a dark hand-crafted the wood casing, shelving and carved sense of nostalgia, lettering seem to speak from another time of collecting and display, evocative of the seventeenth-centurywunderkammer, a kind of 'memory box' filled with the ' remnantsof past times and encounters. The notion of the cabinet of curiosity as site of the secret and private desires and hoardings of an individual provides a fascinating model in relation to the work of Westermann, who constructed many works of art comprising oddities, trinkets and found objects. It is, however, the way in which Westermann brought these his hand-crafted through together, choice of materials and carpentry, that elements distinguishes his project from the collector's cabinet. The use of bric-a-brac, of found objects and nostalgic emblems, whilst crucial to his pieces, is always situated within a framework of construction and sculpting that is not associated with this form of collecting. That the cabinet of curiosities was an object of fascination and secrecy, however is a feature absolutely echoed in Westermann's
1 The wunderkammer is often understood in relation to Surrealist models of collecting and objectmaking, for example, Andr6 Breton's mixed media assemblagessuch as Song-Object (1937), and the whimsical box-worlds of Joseph Cornell, briefly discussed in chapters one and two of this thesis. See also Emily Apter's comparison of the fin-de-siecle bourgeois interior as a kind of cabinet of curiosity, crammed with objects as though a musuem, part of a wider cultural Emily Apter, Secrets: Apter 'bric-a-bracomania' 'Cabinet the time, calls at of what phenomenon Peep Show, Prostitution, and Bric-a-bracomania in the Fin-de-Si6cle Interior', in Feminising the Fetish: Psychoanalysisand Narrative Obsessionin Turn of the Century France, Ithaca, 1991. For forms they have taken throughout history, see the recent book by the various of a recent survey Patrick Mauries, Cabinets of Curiosities, London, 2002. See also Krzyszof Pornian, Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and Venice, 1500-1800, Elizabeth Wiles-Portier, trans., Cambridge, 1990, The Origins Museums: The Cabinet Arthur Macgregor, Impey Oliver eds., of and of and Curiosities in Sixteenthand SeventeenthCentury Europe, Oxford, 1985.
he box in that the constructedthroughout vitrine works and oeuvre,particularly his career. The exterior of Korea is more contemporary in its concerns and referencesthan its has down leftWestermann KOREA interior the stamped contents. evocative hand side of the door, with a crudely carved skull underneath, a motif he frequently repeated. Between the black letters is inscribed the name of the marine during Korean door has in been Westermann the the war, and above served corps he during U. S. S. Enterprise, the to ship was of assigned etched a carved picture decorated it known, 'gallopin' War, World the Second the as was most ghost' the door has been hand Down the the the scratched the right side of war. of ship image of a plane on fire, hurtling downward, an image referencing the many kamikaze planes deployed by the Japaneseduring the SecondWorld War to attack US naval ships, including the Enterprise. In Korea, a wooden knife 'pierces' the left hand side of the cabinet, cutting between distinction ivory fin. The the explicitly the tip the shark to of through biographical references of the exterior surfaces and the secret language of the interior compartments is blurred. This wooden knife enacts a strategy of cutting, bringing linking in described I method of as a paradoxical or chapter one what together, by breaking a connection in order to cause damage to the whole. This for disjointedness both the to somewhat of accounting way method goes some Korea and Westermann's oeuvre as a whole. Collaged together in Korea
are remnants and fragments
of the two wars
Westermann was actively engaged in, conflated into one mnemonic object that history has its forgotten, be the that tried and named after one ensures neither will 2 box, filled together hardest forget Westermann has
. biographic incident crystallised into a series of motifs that speak his own private language. visual
The figure of the so-called Death Ship is just one of
Westermann's many recycled and repeatedimages, a shifting motif that he used in form, listing different to the one always same simple ways, retaining of a variety 2 See, for example, Clay Blair, The Forgotten War., America in Korea 1950-1953, New York, 1987.
From like the top of the cabinet a large carved hand stands sea. a ship at side bodily a piece of rope, a metonym where a part stands for the erect, grasping Westermann here both substitutes as which seafaring sailor and skilled whole, carpenter, whose carefully crafted works depend entirely upon the role of the artist's hand.
Westermann often incorporated elements of the body in his objects, most obviously the series of robotic, boxy personnage figures he made, for example, the two large pendant pieces The Silver Queen from 1960 and Swingin' Red King from 1961, painted silver and red respectively. 3 These tectonic forms have no arms, they are disabled and inactive figures of helplessness that Westermann in later in Hutch the One Amied the works, particular other personnage repeated Astro-Turf Man with a Defensefrom 1976, that has only one arm, the other cut off above its astro-turfed elbow. This personnage is headless, a favourite ploy of Westermann's, with a carved pine baseball glove resting on top of its shoulders. Fragments stand for wholes in the personnage works, as Westermann saves his for inanimate detailing dove and scarf joints, neatly-compacted intricate the most forms he is the surfaces of smoothly-planed and most comfortable with: comers the naval ship, a wooden home, the carefully packed box. Rather than deny the viewer access from the outset, as Samaras's early plaster boxes its did, Korea, certainly with wooden exterior surface details and stuffed door, instead invites its interior into entry curious clear-glass contents. This work finds Westermann developing a secret language that seemingly describespersonal biographic incidents and whilst simultaneously encrypting them. experiences This encryption ensures that they become remaindered, as though mnemonic for those traumatic experiences of Westermann's life as a that stand emblems World War Second during during the the Korean war. and again, marine
Westermann's sculptures do not explicitly narrate the details of his own harrowing catalogue of episodes and scenes,which included sea, a at experiences his witnessing several kamikaze attacks on his own ship as well as the death of 3 'Personnage' is Dennis Adrian's term for Westermann's humanistic assemblages. See 'Some Notes on H. C. Westermann', Art Intemational, February 1963, p. 52.
kind Rather fellow his than carrying sea. any of specific marines at many of biographic detail, these horrific encounters of Westermann's are instead substitutedby a set of motifs, such as the crudely etched kamikazeplane, the sheerhorror of witnessingsucha thing hereconcealedin generality. The sameis true of the anchors,boatsand sharkfins that he would depicttime andtime again. Rather than being 'about' Westermann'sencounterswhilst at sea, they instead figure as almost timelessrepresentationsof a seafaringlife, almost corny and romantic clich6s which Westermanndevelopedand employedas his sculptural language. It is not just his own biographic encounters that Westermann reduces to a set of by he but He the this. means which achieves also used a limited stock symbols, his form in order to in their changing appearance works, all of and set of materials from For hand the of effects. example, variety right side of an eclectic generate Korea a length of carved 'metal' chain hangs, and from the bottom of the wooden Yale lock. Although he both is carved wooden a used wood and chain suspended depict length Westermann in his in this to chose of chain wood, sculptures, metal he look in like just to other works, would paint wood as, marble, and not metal, 'metal'. This practice, of using one thing to stand for to resemble use silver paint illusions, fake Westermann to expand or enables as effects another, or represent the uses and possibilities of a restricted set media and materials. Westermann loved this process of metamorphosis, as critic April Kingsley pointed out, 'for its 4 important This is an strategy of Westermann's to potential'. magic-making in detail. I some return shall which Whilst, in many respects Korea stands as typical example of both Westermann's imagery kinds he in the the of and motifs and worked with practice working his it is by Westermann that opens a slightly earlier work objects, of construction here. I Made Korea to thematic the am pursuing one year of encryption prior onto in 1964, and entitled Secrets(111.3.2),this is another small-scale box, not from the beginning of his career, as with Samarasand Bontecou, but concealed right at its likewise box However, this stand as a mythic origin point of could centre.
April Kingsley, 'Narrating Life's Existential Fuck-Up', The Village Voice, May 22nd1978.
Westermann's work, providing the key to unlock his private visual language. Westermarmwas already a successful sculptor at the time he constructed Secrets, from his life its virtually all accounts of exclusion and career makes which particularly striking.
This walnut and brass box, with its beautifully finished
detail, is trademark Westennann. On joinery to careful attention and surface and the top of the lid Westermarm has inlaid the word 'secrets' in brass, and at fastened hinges, lid he has two the so that the lid cannot open, ends of opposite it invites lift look in. it Secrets demonstrates, to us up and as seemingly even in than this thesis, the thematic any other addressed work explicitly perhapsmore of concealment and encryption at work in all these artists' works. By entitling this work Secrets,Westermann very clearly set in place the material status of the its double-hinged lid, the time, same at with secret, as neatly spelling object art out the structure of such a strategy. ***
An interestingstory aboutWestermanndemonstrates that a mythic episodemight be the 'secret' concealedat the centre of this box. The anecdoterelates Westermann'sinterest in carpentry to the career of his matemal grandparent, GrandfatherBloom, with whom Westermannalso shareda birthday. Bloom was in Oklahoma and coffin maker mortician at the turn of the an established incredibly The his woodworker. and an skilled century, year after wife nineteenth died, Bloom made a seriesof twelve ornate,impeccablyfinished small boxes, intricate dovetailing, details, marquetry and with embossed which complete home. As a child Westermannloved becamefamily treasuresin the Westen-nann to handletheseboxes,with their inlaid phrasesand dedicationssuch as Think of Me Kindly (111.3.3)providing a model for his own later, more punning titles, in turn picked up by artistsBruce Naumanand William T. Wiley (which I return to in chapterfour). What is not commentedon in relation to Westermann'spractice fact in 1926, Westermann is his Grandfather Bloom that the that when was of and This Bloom four tragedy,onceacknowledged, committed suicide. old, years only from boxes twelve their previous statusas muchthese removes subsequently loved, family treasuresto a family secretthat is traumatic; materialisationsof
those inherited phantoms or familial secretsthat Abraham and Torok explore, and which Westermann's grandfather's suicide embodied.
In a way, this story, understood in conjunction with Secrets,contains the germ of Westermann's own engagementwith carpentry, riven with death and the loss of his grandfather. A chain of transgenerational events come to focus on the traditional techniques of carpentry, which was itself caught up in a narrative of death and coffin making in his family, and which went on to haunt not only the production of Westermann, but of Nauman and Wiley, and all those subsequently Westermann's by work. affected
My point is not, however, to track back
biographic links between artists and other artists, or even artists and their objects, let alone grandfathers,but is instead to imagine the kinds of secretsthat, wittingly or not, go into, inform and ultimately get locked into or 'encrypted' within those objects and the viewer's subsequent encounters with them.
My interest in
tracking the 'transgenerational phantom' does not lie in looking back over Westermann's life and pointing to 'this' incident and 'that' which may have fuelled his art in some way. Rather, what concerns me, and what this mythic 'secret' about Grandfather Bloom articulates, is the kinds of psychic dramas the be themselves might seento incorporate and enact. objects Although life experiences,family traumas and secret motifs certainly do recur in Westennann's oeuvre, we shall see that it was not a cathartic playing-out, but bank development images the of a secret of stock and symbols that rather Westermannused and re-usedin his sculpture. In the following discussion, I want to distance my work from those biographical accounts of Westermann's work in his is in draw biography; his to what more own creative out pressing use of order development of something more like a strategy for his biography, of a life recast in, and as, representation,a point neatly summed up in a self-portrait Westermann letter his in he depicted himself in 1959, to a wife, which sent with made-up made of tools.
Titled Cliff Made of Tools (Ill. 3.4), this comical image shows
Westermann quite literally 'as' the tools of his trade, as a 'Westermann'; with a saw, nails, measuring rule and pliers, atop the muscled, crossed arms of Westermann, complete with his Marine corps number and trademark anchor. The
large thought bubble coming from the side of his head contains a piece of wood, the carpenter's initial building block. ***
Westermann's use of traditional craftwork like carpentry alongside his use of figurative objects, literary titles and jokey referencesearned him a reputation as a dada-joker, a so-called 'artist's artist', revered within, yet never a part of, the in Westermann's most of whom, art world, opinion 'attend too many mainstream 5 The don't recent retrospective of his work at the Chicago work'. parties and Museum of Contemporary Art in 2001, has come some way to repositioning 6 Westen-nannand his work, considering him in relation to the sixties art world from which, as Minimalism came to dominate, he became more and more sidelined, and from whose story he has now been all but excluded.7 My account of Westermann is less a renegotiation of the boundaries of Pop and Minimalism, Surrealism, Neo-Dada and Assemblage, than a bringing into focus of an artist but marginalised within contemporary artistic practice of the late present always 8 fifties and sixties. 5 Lettersfrom HC Westermann,Bill Barrette ed., New York, 1988, p. 31. 6 This large scale travelling exhibition was the first major retrospective of Westermann's work Whitney American Museum Art, New York, curated by Barbara 1978 the the show at of since Haskell. In 1981 a small Westermann show was held at the Serpentine Gallery, London. At the time Westermann was virtually unheard of this side of the Atlantic. 7 Westermann was excluded from the art world by certain New York based writers who, with few formally found Westermarin too excessive, and so and conceptually removed from his exceptions, New York counterpartsthat he was dismissed as an anachronistic also-ran. Most notable amongst New York based critics, however was the writing of Max Kozloff, whose catalogue essay for Westermann's 1968 show remains one of the most subtle and important discussions of Westermann's work. SeeMax Kozloff, H. C Westermann,Los Angeles, 1968. 8 The temporal complexity of the so-called 'Minimal' or 'Pop' aesthetic has been highlighted by several recent authors, particularly James Meyer, whose work has gone some way to demonstrating the range of artists who exhibited alongside the Minimalists during the early sixties. See James Meyer, Minimalism: Art and Polemics in the Sixties, New Haven and London, 2001. The sculptural work of Westermann, first exhibited in 1956, is an interesting example of an artist issues, formal both be through to and conceptual, several years prior to their working seems who appearance 'proper' in the work of more mainstream practitioners. This temporal wheeling backward is less about tracking who did what first, but, rather, demonstrates the complexity of such a task. In a recent lecture on Barnett Newman, Michael Fried commented on what he called the 'chronological illusion' of Newman's work, in that in many ways it seems to both tackle and resolve problems of spatiality, the phenomenological encounter, vision and temporal experience before the Minimalists, seemingly situating his practice as concurrent with, or even after the fact of the Minimal project. This was a point shored up, Fried pointed out, by the fact it was the Minimalists who 'rediscovered' Newman, and insisted on his previously neglected position as an important post-war painter. Michael Fried, 'Painting Present', lecture given at Tate Modem, London, Tuesday 15'h October 2002. In a similar way, I am arguing for a re-evaluation of the
Having already served in both the Second World War and the Korean war, Westermann arrived at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with two wars, a failed marriage and a career as an acrobat already behind him. Westen-nannhad design and studied advertising at the Art Institute in 1947 on the previously popular GI Bill, returning there between 1952 and 1954 to study in the fine arts division. He was a generation older than most of his class mates, rememberedas a quiet, removed character, incredibly resourceful and hardworking, and always himself In dressed. to order support at art school, Westermann earned smartly for local landlords. In 1956, two years after he handyman, working money as a graduated,Westen-nannshowed in the 'Monument' exhibition, a revival of a 1948 tradition in which artists organised their own show in response to the Art Institute's exclusion of students from its 'Chicago and Vicinity Show'. It was at the opening for 'Monument' that Westermann first met Allan Frumkin, who was to become his dealer first in Chicago and later in New York. Westermann had his first solo exhibition at the Allan Frumkin Gallery, Chicago in 1958, a city he lived in until 1961, and where his work remains strongly represented today in both 9 public and private collections. In this chapter I focus on a small number of Westermann's objects and the way in which, through these objects, he converts his own highly specific, personal experiencesinto a finite set of generalisedmotifs or objects to be pieced together, bricolage. in I the to of concept and recycled, relation understand this reformed both in terms of the way in which they are put together and the way in which they 10 by the spectator. In 7he Savage Mind, Claude Uvi-Strauss are encountered employs the term 'bricolage' in his structural account of the language of myth and the systems of understanding that have developed amongst so-called 'primitive' described bricolage as a practical process differentiated Uvi-Strauss peoples. artists under consideration in this thesis as also working through in theseearlier works many of the late the to tenets sixties. of object-based production of mid major 9 Many thanks to Allan Frumkin for discussing Westermann's work with me, and for showing me so many of his works now kept in Frumkin's own collection, including several gifts and toys. 10In this, my approachdiffers from Anna Dezeuze's work on bricolage and the 'do-it-yourself' artwork in severaldifferent ways (see my introduction to this thesis, footnote 29). Rather than an amatereurishstrategy Westermann's 'hobbyist' approach is here understood as a strategy of bricolage, as a kind of 'pseudo-folk' or method of piecing together and recycling that I will addressin detail later in this chapter.
from empirical models of construction and knowledge-building, or 'scientific thought', in that it registers more on the intuitive, day to day compilation and recycling of materials, objects, tools, ideas-whatever
is to hand. In L6vi-
Strauss's terms, this practical mode of assembly and building finds its intellectual 'mythical' in 'magical' thought, a process of building, learning, or analogue developing, constructing and thinking that he claims characterises 'primitive' societies. Uvi-Strauss opposesthe work of the bricoleur to that of the 'engineer'. A crucial difference between the bricoleur and the engineer is that 'the engineer is always trying to make his way out of and go beyond the constraints imposed by a particular state of civilisation while the 'bricoleur' by inclination or necessity " Just as Westermann's working process finds his always remains within them'. limited in involving a set of repeated motifs, often up cases,boxes, work caught imprisonment, chains and compartments, so 'mythical thought', 'the intellectual form of "bricolage" ', 12is also, writes Uvi-Strauss, 'imprisoned in the events and it experienceswhich never tires of ordering and re-ordering in its search to find 13 them a meaning'. What Westermann played out in his work was a problem of series: the overlap and return of certain objects and themes, what Uvi-Strauss called the 'permutable' 14 images bricoleur For tools the with which and nature of the objects, works. Uvi-Strauss, the 'permutable' means that which is 'capable of standing in 15 successiverelations with other entities'. Critic Dennis Adrian has written on the taxonomical difficulty of classifying Westermann's heterogeneousoeuvre, a task he at first felt necessaryas he sought to introduce the art world and readersof Art 16 Artforum In his catalogue essay for International and to Westermann.
11Claude Uvi-Strauss, The SavageMind, London, 1966, p. 19. 12Ibid., p. 2 1. 13Ibid., p. 22 14Ibid., p. 20. The full passagereads: 'Signs, and images which have acquired significance, may still lack comprehension; unlike concepts they do not yet possesssimultaneous and theoretically unlimited relations with other entities of the same kind. 15Ibid. 16See for example Dennis Adrian, 'Some Notes on H. C. Westermann', op.cit., and the exhibition he organised in 1974, H. C. Westennann:Made in Chicago, Washington, 1974. Also, see his 'The Art of H.C. Westermann', Artforum, vol. 6 no. 1, September 1967, pp. 16-22, H. C. Westermann,
Westermann'srecentretrospective,Adrian outlined the problemsof categorising his objects. He claims it is the fluidity of the boundariesbetweenthe various 4persistent'categoriesthat demonstratewhat he calls Westermann's'affinity for 17 the paradoxical'. To highlight this 'paradoxical' aspectof Westen-nann's work, Adrian proposescategoriesthat, rather than fix definition or meaning,instead for it. The the categoriesAdrian providessuggest to names point andencompass medium and processas much as they do form and content. The list runs as follows: FigureslPersonnages,Houses/Architecture/Furniture,Death Ships, 18 Machines/Tools. Boxes,Tableaux/Vitrines,and Although allowing, as Adrian recommends, a certain amount of slippage or I between categories, would argue that the very attempt at carrying permeability involves inevitably taxonomy exclusions and necessarily manages to a out such isolate those objects which are absent. For example, I would propose, in addition to Adrian's list, the categories of Illustrated Letters, Personal Gifts and Wall Plaques-this
list could also be expanded to incorporate Exhibition Flyers,
Lithographic Prints and Miscellaneous, for which read small metal casts such as the carefully and idiosyncratically hand-crafted weights and equipment for his daily exercise regime, marked off from the merely everyday or practical by such careful crafting and embellishments. Other notable miscellany would include the for front his he home 'Batmobile' the the of car made and emblem wooden small 19 for Westermann he built his Joanna Beall himself. The wife and and studio highlights Adrian because are or series unfixable groupings of the of slippage overlap and shared ground (of motifs, materials, references) between them. The House works carry the echo of the personnage, the Death Ships imbued with traumatic incidents of warfare that spill over into the realm of the play thing, the family, for friends the objet trouvg that sneakily and gifts exchanged privately inserts itself into the arena of the hand-crafted and the sculptural; such is the London, 1981, and his recent catalogueessay T. C. Westermann'sSculptures, 1954-1981: Fragmentsof a Critical Introduction, in Dennis Adrian, Michael Rooks, Robert Storr, Lynne Chicago,2001. Warren,HC Westermann, 17DennisAdrian,H.C Westermann, (2001) op.cit., p. 37. 18Ibid. 19Seethe essayby Michael Rooks, 'I Made a Deal with God': H.C. Westermann'sHouseand Studio,Ibid., p. 66, for a discussionof the Brookfield Centre,Westermann'shouseandstudioas a in which he points out Vestermann's house was very much 'a kind of gesumtkunstwerk, Westermann'and,for that matter,is signedanddated'.
bricoleur both Westermann to the the and critic seeks who of work ongoing bricoleur's from it the system. outside organise The work of the bricoleur, as L6vi-Strauss tells us, is never finished, although the he They tools are. or she works are then put to new and which with objects and different it is less However, in turn that or results. generate new alternative uses the so-called 'primitive',
models of making-do
interest me here, but the idea that a limited yet heterogeneous collection of tools in be ideas together, and re-connected order to wrested apart clustered can and develop something new.
objects, the work is never fully
finished but is put to other uses, with forms and motifs repeated and reconfigured. Returning to previous models in order to make something new is the 'first bricoleur, 920 the of step practical 21 activity.
calls a 'retrospective'
The constant re-structuring that occurs in Westermann's work should be but in 'retrospective' terms this trope of a of seriality understood not so much as in to and encounters order generate objects past of recycling means a action, is become in The to this working not simply of system point something else. being but the to state of within the new previous retain something other, incarnation, which then always carries a haunting echo of its past, seen perhaps I in detail Ship, Death in to the the which return greater of motif most poignantly toward the end of this chapter. Always on the way to becoming something else, forms house, into box, transmute or a one a cabinet a whether a personnage, hook lines, is to the There system, with movement a retrospective another. between formal types that migrate across and and encounters refrains, emblems, the various sculptural objects. As well as the notion of the retrospective, another important aspect of bricolage that I want to address is privacy and the development of a secret sculptural language. Although developing a means through which to address others and bricolage is, task. the the a private of essentially, process world, of sense make 20Uvi-Strauss, op.cit., p. 18. *21 Ibid.
Levi-Strausswrites that, althoughanyonecanbe a bricoleur,the processby which be understanding constructing meaning and routes of will always about one goes highly idiosyncratic, as:
[C]hoices made at every stage of a given project-from the original selection of tools and materials to the configurations into which they are assembled-are always different, thus lending bricolage the status of a personal and poetic language.22 This is not to say that the objects are therefore unavailable to anyone else; for describes how Kozloff Max through the 'obscurity of its poetic although Westermann is 'closed' 'private', he the of and work points out that metaphors' the actual stock symbols and motifs Westermann employs are very much public is, for Kozloff, The 'privacy' Westermann's that the point of and recognisable. 23 from fact he 'has hide'. Kozloff the that something to work stems precisely it is 'act 'condition that that to very of withdrawal' say and on of goes inaccessibility' that is made explicitly 'focal' in Westermann's objects. This is a boxes Lucas Samaras, his the with small-scale of share objects whose condition by 'act that of withdrawal' that main off accessibility making staved also work focus. Westermann's project, Kozloff points out, is deliberately arcane. Works from Westermann's Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum 1958 draw us not to such as the 'beautiful surfaces' of his works but to their 'interior life', represented by 24 heads, ' dolls' 'mirrors, photographs,etc. I will return to Mystetious Yellow Mausoleum later, but for now, in conjunction 'poetic language' bricolage I the of want to think about another private with means of construction
and piecing together, what Michel
de Certeau calls
or 'poaching' is, like bricolage, another everyday 25 De Certeau 'artisan-like inventiveness'. by Certeau identified as an activity, 'braconnage'.
claims that whilst
comprises a unified,
set of components,
less instead 'dispersed braconnage is It is in schematic. recycled, systematically
22Ibid., p. 13.
23Max Kozloff, H. C Westermann,op.cit., 1968, p. 6. 24Ibid. 25
Life,Stephen F. Rendalltrans.,Berkeley,1984, p.
time; a sequence of temporal fragments not joined together but disseminated through repetitions and different modes of enjoyment, in memories and successive knowledges'.26 The work of braconnageis to do with the way in which the object is encountered by another subject, how the viewer outside of the system makes senseof it in order to create their own 'mythology' or story. De Certeau argues that for the reader (or, here, for the viewer), the process of braconnage is him her or with the freedom to drift, return, repeat, providing emancipatory, from branch the text in order to develop individual, private off and neglect trajectories through the work. The text is followed, de Certeau writes, in all its detours, drifts across the page, metamorphoses and anamorphoses of the text produced by the travelling eye, imaginary or meditative flights taking off from a few words, overlapping of spaceson the militarily organized surfaces of the 27 dances. text, and ephemeral A nomadic freedom to wander in and out, across and between the various is the triggered, allowing me to focus on the shark fin, of work elements and parts the etched imprint of a naval ship, the wooden knife or glass vitrine, in whatever order, to whatever ends, my eye and imagination might drift.
establish a split between the work of the bricoleur and that of the braconneur who undoes the systematic work of bricolage, I want to retain the specificity of Westermann's own task, that between his private 'poetic language' and the way in interpret I them, there is some sharedground. and which encounter The 'retrospective' activity of the bricoleur has been revised by literary critic Martin Roberts in relation to the work of author Michel Tournier. Roberts describes what he calls the post-modem strategy of 'autobricolage', 28the process 26Ibid., p. 174-5. 27Ibid., p. 170. 28Martin Roberts has written on bricolage and 'autobricolage' in relation to the fiction of Michel Toumier. Whilst bricolage involves drawing upon the motifs and myths of Western culture in general, autobricolage describes the work of working from one's own, personal and individual is It this notion of the autobricoleur that I want to and emblems. myths of motifs, repertoire develop throughout this chapter. Roberts proposes that Toumier, by returning to his own work and recycling his own myths and motifs, engages with the self-conscious strategy of selfcommemoration, putting pressure on the validity of the unique text by proposing that the copy is 'superior' to the original. Bricolage shares the cyclical nature of mythological time, whereby motifs repeat and feed upon one another. This ritual of self-commemoration establishes,claims Roberts, a 'poetics of repetition', as Tournier turns his own work into myth, becoming
through which the writer recycles his or her own earlier texts and characters in later works. In a way, the retrospective return to previous works sharessomething with the task of the braconneur, as a less schematic process of selection than the system of bricolage, what I suggest we might call 'autobraconnage'. This bricoleur (or 'autobraconneur', the of work retrospective as it were) Roberts writes, involves freeing up the systematic selection of myths and motifs that comprise the bricoleur's tool kit, so that the returns and repetitions of his or her 'figures, episodes, images and themes selected and rearranged929retain the detour, drift, travel and overlap outside of a rigidly fixed system. to potential Performed by the bricoleur, the activity of 'autobraconnage', the drifting process of the retrieval and revisiting of the bric-a-brac of one's previous projects, inaugurates a process of random, almost unconscious picking over and recycling, that here takes the form of Westermann's retrospective haunting of his own work. Westermann's vocabulary of hoarding encasesfound objects, carved emblems, figuration, biographic and wartime references in a scheme akin to the collector's cabinet of curiosities.
Korea evokes traditional pastimes of carpentry and
language to the speak seems contemporary yet of assemblage. It woodwork incorporates elements of biography that suggest a hermetic system, a secret language comprised of a composite core of motifs which acknowledge the language America, of contemporary shared whilst reconfiguring it into vernacular, something new and distinctly individual. Westermann, as we have seen with his Yale lock, often used one medium to evoke another. Sometimes carved wooden this resignification relied on disguise and covering over, as in the marble-effect base of The Pillar of Truth, which I return to later, where the original wooden form has been dipped in a mix of lurid paints, to resemble marbled stone, or the laminated plywood that appearsto bend and move in imitation of rope in his work 30 In doing this, Westermann developed a formal language Change Big The . limited enclosed, malleable yet set of signs and motifs. of an comprised increasingly autonomous, establishing a false origin story, or starting point that sharesmuch with Westermann's own mythic engagementwith a 'folkish' past, speaking ultimately of only its own, enclosed mythical repertoire. See, Martin Roberts, Michel Tournier: Bricolage and Cultural Mythology, California, 1994. 29Ibid., p. 63. 3' See chapter four for a discussion of The Big Change, (111.4.10)in relation to Bruce Nauman's work. Westermarmcompleted a number of plywood laminated pieces in the early to mid sixties,
By the late fifties, many artists were employing 'non-art' materials in the construction of their works, that, whilst not necessarily drawing upon a mythic folk past of 'low' art forms in the way the Westermann did, certainly refused the finish 'high' art of modernist sculptural practice. Benjamin Buchloh has so-called 31 he 'vernacular bricolage' in the calls recently written on what of amateurish relation to the work of contemporary artist Thomas Hirschhorn's temporary installations and use of the ephemeraand debris of everyday culture, for example his recycling of 'high art' icons such as Mondrian in his cheap and flimsy homage-altars 'Go Piet! ' emblazoned across them with phrases such as sidewalk in the vernacular of the sports fan. Buchloh outlines Hirschhorn's use of corny slogans, throwaway constructions and the kitsch remnants of everyday life in terms of its being a kind of strategy of amateurism that Hirschhorn has developed in response to the condition of sculptural practice at the end of the twentieth century. Buchloh understands this tactic in terms of its status as institutional for I-Erschhorn the sites uses are outside of the spaces of the gallery, critique, placed instead on the street, sometimes presented as a garage sale, or celebrating the cults of celebrity and consumerism figured through the personal affects of an individual homage or slangy slogan.
such as Antimobile and The Rope Tree. Both of these works, like The Big Change, play with our expectationsof what wood can 'do' as a medium, as Westermann has planed and carved the works into forms that suggest that the hard resistant wood has somehow drooped, melted or twisted into knots. Kozloff has written interestingly about these works, calling them 'point of view' objects, (Kozloff, op.cit., p. 9). Although fascinating pieces, the laminate works form a discrete aspectof Westermann's output, that exceed the remit of my argument in this chapter that is necessarily exclusive in the objects it takes as its focus. 31Benjamin Buchloh, 'Detritus and Decrepitude: The Sculpture of Thomas Hirschhorn', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 24, no.2,2001, pp. 41-56, p. 47. For example, Buchloh has written about the bricolage of contemporary artist Thomas Hirschhorn in relation to the institutional critique his sitespecific works engage in. Unlike Westermann's strategy of bricolage, however, Hirschhorn's detritus, the the stuff that has been discarded by others. within of materials remains remit of choice He setsup his 'displays' by rubbish bins, on stalls in jumble sales,or on street comers, as with the series of homages he created in honour of Modernism's heroic and tragic figures. I would argue that the difference between the deployment of the everyday vernacular both Westermann and Hirschhorn use is that, whilst Hirschhorn's works recycle junk and the discarded, Westermann's corpus of material tends to be carefully crafted and selected-only referring to the everyday, not really incorporating it. The materials and sites of display for Westermann's works do not engage with a critique of the reffication of the art object in the way Buchloh arguesHirschhorn does.
Westermann'swork shareswith Hirschhorna languageof the vernacular,of the in different various ways. However, as we and recuperated everydayrecycled have seen,Westermann'smaterials do not tend to be discardedor exhausted. Westermann's motifs, carved in wood, hand-crafted and individual, seem At the sametime they might be readin terms of rarefied. or somehowoutdated, his deployment kind 'nostalgia' in a of of the amateurish social critique, evoking bottle, incorporation figures, the the the automobile, soda of of cast-tin vernacular both his the to with sea, skewed romance ever-present read as symbol of and Westermann'spersonalexperienceand aspolitical critique of AmericanCold War Americana Westermann's America, The rather, nostalgic of or, work, so policy. does his in direction by Pop the contemporaries, not point of refused vehemently life. Westermann is incorporating clearly or contemporary such culture, pop is bricoleur, draw lies but, the task to the that that then, of upon which emblems, language hand, to a of making-doandavailability. within working closest ***
I am using the term 'assemblage' in this chapter, not simply to invoke the became known it in 'assemblage' the object, as relation to sculptural of category but fifties late in the also to connote certain processesof and early sixties, practice construction that have more to do with the model of 'bricolage' I am developing here. The term 'assemblage' gained currency in New York, with MoMA's 'The Art of Assemblage' show in 1961, in which Westermann was included, and art dealer Leo Castelli's championing of those artists he representedas 'assemblage' 32 'Assemblage' came to stand for works of art incorporating objets artists. trouv9s, collaging elements of the world into reliefs and three-dimensional bricolage, In Westermann's Deleuze the strategy of case of and structures. Guattari's description of the conceptual assemblageas a 'multiplicity', that does functions it 'in but in in itself, to those assemblages other only relation signify not 'assemblage'. This is model of appropriate model a more connection with', beginning interconnected heterogeneity, no with or end, as concepts privileges
32For example the large burlap and steel wall reliefs of Lee Bontecou and the crushed metal discussed in chapter two. both Chamberlain, John are of which mounds of
33 in Deleuze Guattari's functioning to another. relation and model of always and 'deterritorialized'-it is, they write, assemblage
means only in relation to other
things, that in themselves have multiple uses or meanings. The same process of 'deterritorialization' occurs acrossWestermann's heterogeneousoutput, where the levelling out of different media means that wood can stand for rope, oil paint can for for silver can stand wood painted metal, and the outmoded marble, stand practices of carpentry and craft skills can also be viable as contemporary sculptural practices. That Deleuze and Guattari refer to those 'concepts' as a 'tool box' perhaps goes some way to clarifying what I hope to draw out of this reading 34 of Westermann's objects. Assemblage is always in a state of becoming in which means become ends and Uvi-Strauss's in 'the into become terminology or, signified changes means, ends 35 It is this shuffling around which structures the signifying and vice versa'. Westermann's task as bricoleur.
Instead, however, of the concepts and
intellectual ideas of the engineer, which share much with Deleuze and Guattari's Westermann the units works with are the three-dimensional assemblage, of model biographic incidents into including items, those now crystallised a set objects and his wood and metal craft, as well as the random objects and and motifs, objects of items he collects along the way. The 'deterritorializing' aspect of assemblage points, in Westermann's case,to the surprising and often unintentional results that the work of bricolage can produce. L6vi-Strauss describes the way in which the from inevitably is the original aim in terms of the always at a remove end result 36 'objective hazard', invoking an element of chance that Surrealist concept of bricoleur's the the of range through the unexpectedresults of possibilities expands bricoleur This juxtapositions. that the achieves not only, or merely, means such 37 the 'accomplishment and execution' of his or her tasks, but also unconscious between different elements, producing unexpected results. encounters chance This is what Westermann would describe as the 'great, wonderful, mysterious, 33Gilles Deleuze, and Mix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Brian Massumi trans., London, 1988. See chapter one 'Introduction: Rhizomes' where the authors map out their model of writing and investigation. 34Ibid., p. 4. 35Uvi-Strauss, 36Ibid. 37Ibid.
op. cit., p. 21.
38 'practitioner', intangible' work of the that expands the 'limited possibilities 939of the pre-establishedrepertoire the bricoleur works with. ***
Although it is through Westermann's 1964 box Secrets that his working strategy is most explicitly enacted, it is an early group of box works from 1958 that provide another kind of mythic inauguration of Westermann's bricolage project, made one year prior to his entry onto the New York art scenein Peter Selz's 'New Images of Man' show at MoMA.
These works each deploy a house motif, from
fantastic rocket-shaped towers to small, log cabin style homes, ranging from the futuristic depictions lifestyles to a nostalgia for traditional of sci-fi contemporary 40 homeliness and security. In these works are found many mid-westem values of box from that to the tool the go on elements provide and motifs of which Westermann's future assemblages,colours, juxtapositions, objects and themes were comprised.
Mysteriously Abandoned New Home (Ill. 3.5) is a hexagonal rocket-shapedtower door boarded frames. to the the and up and wooden crosses nailed windows with As with Angry Young Machine of the same year, this house is also mounted on deflationary kind though as a of wheels, gesture, countering the castor large-scale, of abstract modernist sculpture. The portability of monumentality less 'serious' is typically associated whimsical, with rather works of art, sculpture Calder's hanging Alexander mobiles. as such
When David Smith mounted
Wagon II on wheels, six years after Mysteriously Abandoned New Home, they lost the singular strength and solidity of his previous works, becoming, as Alex Potts
38Lettersfrom H. C. Westermann,op.cit., p. 23. 39L6vi-Strauss, op.cit., p. Ibid. p. 2 1. 40See Timothy J Garvey, 'Mysteriously Abandoned New Home: Architecture as Metaphor in the Early Sculpture of H. C. Westermann', American Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Spring, 1996, pp. 43-63. Garvey makes an interesting analysis of Westermann's 'houses' in terms of the housing crisis that emerged as house prices soared in postwar Chicago. Ex-servicemen were encouraged to take advantage of Chicago's First Federal Savings offers to GI's, enabling them to purchase their own homes. Garvey points out how 'foreign' this desire to be a homeowner must have seemed to Westermann, then living in a cramped basementapartment in Chicago and concerned solely with supporting himself and finding food for and his art supplies. rent, money enough
41 ludicrous. Referred to by Smith in grandiose, has pointed out 'awkward and 42 43 'monsters his 'iron chariotS, or on wheels', the end result aggressiveterrns as instead in describes Potts his their works results appearing, as mounted wheel of 44 them, 'like toy dogs on wheels'.
Westermann's moveable home, made of pine, birch, vermilion and redwood and standing at over one metre high, is a sparse, strange construct, itself a fairly ludicrous object. The concept of its being habitable is contradicted by the crossbarred demon the standing guard over entrance, whilst the boarded angrily armed further complicate the situation. windows
The suggestion that something
is by demon, has this evoked grimacing occurred who, protecting the unspeakable into finds its in this the work, route metaphoric silence only echoed and entrance, only other way into understanding what 45 life' Kozloff called the 'interior of the sculpture. In one of the top windows a form is Westermann the an early appearance of painted, was to mark question laminated hanging in later and marbled wood several pieces, over the recycle
blank and boarded up windows-the
incorporating its By though very status. punctuation marks questioning work as into the object Westermann suggeststhat the box functions as a kind of visual hoarded language, through the various oddments and motifs articulated poetic together that paradoxically appearto be, in the case of this abandoned,boarded up house, curtailed or silenced. Another 'mysterious' house-box of the same year, exhibited in Selz's show, is Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum (Ill. 3.6). Made from Douglas fir plywood and brass, bricolages doll's tar, together glass, this enamel, antique a cast object pine, head, metal, mirror and stuck-on decoupage, itself a kind of outmoded, twodimensional bricolage. This collection of materials, ranging from the exclusive and refined sphereof expensive woods to the eclectic collection of odds and ends that adorn it, comprise a work where the structural framework highlights artistic 'traditional' skill whilst at the same time employing cheap trinkets and craftwork 41AlexPotts,TheSculpturalImagination, NewHavenandLondon,2000,p. 174. 42 in Smith, Ibid., 174. David as quoted p. 43 176. Ibid., p. 44 Potts, OP. Cit., P. 167. 45 Kozloff,op.cit.,p. 6. 143
and bric-a-brac that speak rather of the vernacular, amateurish hoarder and re-use
hand. lies to near of whatever Selz described this box's primary purpose as 'illusion'.
I would describe it
instead as mythology, of the false promise of a story that the language of Westermann's bricolage seemsto teeter on the brink of articulating. The interior dead-ends box is the of a catalogue and illusionistic short-circuits, such as the of leads inside that nowhere, a mirror that renders one's appearancethreestaircase hangs interior On wall a wooden crucifix, floating ghosts and cut-out one eyed. featuring dead On is the a soldier. staircase clippings a small wooden newspaper by light lit dramatically the shaft of one of the viewing ports provides, gallows found is a cast skull and crossbonesstuck to the wall atop the cutwhilst nearby legs lady. the of a circus out picture of
Outside on the tower is stamped a
handlessclock, marking on its face the arrestedtemporality of this mausoleum. This curious series of juxtapositions engendersa disjointed mode of viewing that is reinforced by the brightness of the colour and the 'folksy' mode of construction, from drifts box This flits to one element and another. encompassesa as our eye demand it not be taken at face that and surprises contradictions cornucopia of is The made of expensive, skilfully carpentered wood which mausoleum value. has in turn been coated in bright yellow paint. Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum is issues those same of concealment and contradiction as the around structured inside-out boxes Samaras appearanceof Bontecou's reliefs, of and multi-layered but it lacks an attendant physical threat. Instead, Westermann's works focus in that addressed aspect of wrong-footing chapter one, although to on more much rather different ends. In Mysteriously Abandoned New Home, Westermann chose to retain the natural state of wooden construction, waxed to a glossy sheen and skilfully carpentered finished When, for in joints tight another edges. context, and expertly with Yellow Mausoleum, is Mysterious the choice made to paint over the example carefully worked wooden exterior surfaces, and, as a consequenceto conceal the
46Peter Selz, New Images ofMan, New York, 1959, p. 141.
labour, its instead appearance of skilled points elsewhere,to the object's element ersatz,the amateurishand the more crudely assembledstructureof the hobbyist. As I haveshown,the manipulationof the surfacesandmediumof his work, where for for silver and paint marble stone, was not uncommon in wood stands Westermann'swork. Neatly demonstratedin the silver paintedUntitled (Oil Can) (111.3.7)from 1962,is that levelling out of differencesbetweenmedia. An 'oil from fashioned has been galvanisedsheetmetal and placedon top of a pine can' box, from which loops a thick length of hemprope,fixed to the box with a metal loop that hasbeenbolted to the side. From the spoutof the oil can hangsanother thick twist of rope, from the oil neededto lubricate his welded and hinged box his to the to so central carpenteredworks, to the everwooden structures, it does that the thick the ship rope speaks of workshop as of much as motif present deckandNaval knot, the tools of Westermann'stradeareherebroughttogetherin this wood andmetalobject. The futility of ever fully knowing what the contents of Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum might be, ensures that looking at this work will always be a frustrating business. The partial aspect the viewer is afforded is always going to be severely limited.
The result, in Westermann's case, however, is not the
boxes but Samaras's like damage threaten, that something more a teasing physical frustration or disappointment. The range of symbols and objects available to us foil attempts to piece together any semblance of narrative drive as we roam and drift across, picking and choosing, performing the role of the braconneur. The be Westermann's that objects can make up compared with what elements Abraham and Torok describe as 'broken symbols', fragments of the analysand's discourse that tell only part of the whole story, that lack the necessary 47 hidden secrets. counterpartsthat would pen-nit their completion, and reveal their Instead, these 'broken symbols' are left to be repeated, recycled, yet never resolved.
The promise of narrative resolution or closure is always thwarted, as though the lie in the underlying structure of the work that we cannot access. may answer 47 See Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Wolfinan's Magic Word, Nicholas Rand trans. Minneapolis, 1986, p. 79.
describes the objects in these works as Westermann's
that nevertheless negotiate 'an almost involuntary covenant between artist and 48 As John Perreault claimed, 'the stories [Westermann] tells spectator' . are very contemporary, very disjointed, and very full of discontinuities. And, in fact, what you, the viewer, have to do is finish the story yourself; fill in the blanks and the detail'. 49 When describing the construction of his house and adjoining studio, a lovingly constructed wooden building that has been described by Michael Rooks as the ultimate 'Westermann'
object, Westermann highlights the importance of
the underlying structure of the construct, the way in which it is pieced together. He wrote '[o]f course with this house the most important aspect [ ] is what you ... don't see, in a sense. By that I mean the basic framework, or structure, as you 50 It is don't in Westermann's here. that interests
The underlying structure might provide the glue by which the various disparate in begin 'speak'. The to together to order make sense or adhere process, elements that is, of bricolage; Westermann's 'basic framework'. ***
Selz's 'New Images of Man' show, Westermann's first exhibition in New York only a few years after graduating from art school, proved to be controversial and was widely-panned. The carefully crafted nature of his seemingly whimsical, capricious objects generateda source of anxiety amongst New York based critics keen to dismiss Westermann by promoting what Dennis Adrian describes as a 51 Sailor-Yankee Whittler' 'Popeye the stereotype. Selz included three of Westermann's works in the show, Evil New War God (S.O.B.) (111.3.8), 1958, Angry Young Machine (111.3.9), 1959, and his large wooden piece, Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea (111.3.10 and Ill. 3.11), from 1958. The inclusion of these works is explained by Selz through reference to Westermann's life is 'a on contemporary as a commentary which succinct experiences, war-time
48Kozloff, op-cit., p. 9. 49John Perreault, T. C. Westermann', MCA Alumnae Journal, Moore College of Art Alumnae Association, Winter 1973, pp. 6-8, p. 8. 50Lettersfrom HC Westermann,p. 135. 51Adrian, H. C. Westermann,(200 1). op.cit., p. 37.
52 has become a madhouse'. Selz's interpretation of these view of the world which works focuses on the shape of Westermann's shiny brass personnage Evil New War God (S.O.B), which Selz claims refers to the blockhouse, and the bottle tops that adom Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, which, for Selz, refer to the makeshift homes the Koreans are said to have built out of the empty beer cans and other refuse left behind by the American soldiers.
Evil New War God (S.O.B.) is a partially chrome-plated brass sculpture, standing forty-two centimetres high. It is made up of strips of metal screwed together horizontally to create an angular lower portion, complete with petite cast-metal feet and small hook-hand attachment, on top of which is placed a larger, wider square box, into which have been shaped two eyes and a mouth, with the metal form features, formed by the the to and nose melded a three-dimensional strips triangle of metal fixed to the centre. Three small scratches between the 'eyes' forehead tension, up a screwed or an angry, 'evil' expression, as the title suggest Along indicates. the a middle strip of metal in the lower portion is piece of GOD IN WE TRUST; American the motto on the back of the upper stamped 'head' portion the letters S.O.B, standing for another, vernacular phrase, 'son of a bitch'. Evil New War God (S.O.B.) embodies an almost childish, toy-like charm, little features feet, head boxy its body, it is more shaped and oversized and with humorous thing than toy not political a play art work, of serious reminiscent comment, and yet it seemsto evoke a little of each of thesethings. Angry Young Machine from 1959, is another 'angry' work of art that speaks the language of bricolage by bringing together the bric-a-brac of the workshop and the artist's studio. It is a wood, iron and aluminium piece, anotherpersonnage of bulbous bust, bright complete with red painted lips with tongue a curved, sorts, head, from the on top of which rests a tall tower, with pointed unfurling away The is fixed to a set of and entrance. assemblagelpersonnage windows spire, galvanised pipe fittings, with tap, u-bend and joints, screwed to a square base set on wheels. The piece is painted silver, meant to lend the plywood form the appearanceof metal. Forinally, Angry Young Machine contains more trademark
52Selz, op.cit., p. 145.
'Westermann' elements than its chrome-plated brass counterpart Evil New War God (S.O.B). For the most part, Westermann worked with wood, from cheap laminated plywood to woods such as redwood, pine, and mahogany. These were bright, finished highly to were pieces, or painted: silver suggest or metal, either features Angry Young Machine. The the as red-lipped of such colours, primary in is by this the anger evoked war-like machine countered of mechanisation depicted head Westermann resembling on the side of the work. a male of profile It too sticks out its tongue, but this drawn head is spitting out nuts and bolts, and from the back of this angry head a jet of steam is set off, a comical humanisation base is bridge, On the the an ornate the of personnage wooden machine. angry of female figure. Upon tiny one of the pipe-fittings sits a carved a on which stands wooden bird, as the menacing, mechanical machine encroachesupon the human, in the tinged this raspberryanti-war message oddly on nature and romance, blowing emblem of anger with a unsettling layer of whimsy. The parts do not add 'broken the elements sit, as to rather, glaring symbols' that additional up a whole, defy narrative or explanation. Standing almost one and a half metres from the ground, Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea is another personnage,a free-standing pine cabinet with a door that opens to reveal an interior space, divided by a shelf in the middle, the bottle On has been tops. top of the soda with covered entire surface of which head, is brightly 'body' the rectangular with one eye and work a painted of main if Memorial Idea Man He From to the top the of shelf of mouth. gaping open, an Was an Idea hangs a wooden maquette of a figure, suspendedupside-down, in the Westermann's brief career mid-routine, a motif referencing position of an acrobat in 1946. Next toured team that to the two-man naval ships acrobat as part of a balancing acrobat standsthe similarly brightly painted cast-tin figure of a baseball player, bat raised, about to strike. The player in Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea, however, is headless,and the blind strike he is about to take risks hitting the smiling acrobat by. Dennis Adrian hangs tells us, somewhat unconvincingly, that close so who this is Westermann's re-enactment of a scene from Homer's Odyssey,where the Greeks escapethe cave of one-eyed Polyphemus by getting him drunk and then 148
blinding him, so that he can only flail aimlessly as they flee, here reconfigured in the contemporary figure of the blind batsman whose swing can never be true, and 53 box, has which also only one eye. Along the front repeatedon the outside of the of the shelf dividing the busy top half from the lower portion have been stamped the words 'A MAD CABINETMAKER MIGHT', a jokey reference that confirms Westermann's role as craftsman, whilst also possibly suggesting himself as the headlessplayer who 'might' take a swing, or as the swinging acrobat that stands for his previous job. Instead of resolving, the statement stands, rather, as an odd between half-finished At the a question and an answer. uneasily situated phrase bottom of the second shelf is the carved wooden form of a ship, half sunk into the base of the work. The ship barely registers on first glance at the chaotic interior bric-a-brac, it jumbled this of yet serves to punctuate the object assortment of Our box been has the it the attention caught, upper portion of grasped. once slowly starts to come undone and the suggestion of a narrative structure starts to reveal itself.
Insideof the door of Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Wasan Idea arefound the letters HCW, spelt out in bottle tops, inserting the person of Westermann When into the closed, the cabinet stands as genderless work. squarely bent 'hips', the at with the single eye and gaping red mouth anns personnage, suggestinga silent exclamationof surprise,or shock. Inside the open mouth a dancing jumping-a for held figure though or cry as is seen,arms out stick-like help or a shoutforjoy. Onceour attentionis arrestedthis strange,complexwork, begins its figure fairly first to of sorts, reveal many crude wooden glancea at finger, head On the top yellow painted pointing upwards,on rests one of secrets. top of which restsa small globe. The suggestionof a hairline exposesitself at the sametime as the turrets of a castle,the castellatedsquarepunctuatedat each bright finger. its With by colours, sturdy structureand open a phallic comer kind impression is this the a of pin-ball machine, at once of work mouth, dollhouse,secretbox and figurative object. This cabinetof curiosities,with its Americana, bric-a-brac, from junk to the of everyday of mismatched array eclectic its sinister depiction of a sinking Death Ship, functions somewherebetween 53Adrian, H. C. Westennann,(200 1), op.cit., p. 4 1.
tableau of modem life, biographical emblem (with references to Westermann's dancer in Shanghai to a marriage as an acrobat, and his Naval experiences), career and ridiculous toy.
It is almost jarring in its brightness, its deployment of
materials, as a hokey, hand-crafted 'thing', out of place in the art world of which it is a part.
This gaudy, cyclops personnage seemed raucous to New York visitors to 'New Images of Man', their artistic sensibilities formed in responseto the grandiloquent large-scale gestures of the New York School of abstract-expressionistpainting. Westermann's works were shown alongside an eclectic range of paintings and figures bronze, Leonard from Baskin, the roughly-hewn, the clunky of sculptures, fragmented, welded iron forms of Cesar, the coarse, scratchy, graffiti-like art brut Dubuffet, the abstract painting of Jackson Pollock's 1951 of paintings and reliefs black and white paintings, and de Kooning's Woman series. The show was considered an anachronism, out of step with contemporary concerns and did in that angst not sit well with current interests. existential embroiled Westermann's work was particularly badly received, with one of his only favourable reviews written by former curator of modem art at the Art Institute of 54 Kuh, Westermann Katherine Chicago, to whom was not such an aberration. Kuh praised Westermann's presentation of an unsettling image of ourselves, highlighting the black humour that accompaniesso much of his work. 55 Manny Farber's review 'New Images of (ugh) Man', whilst dismissive of the show as a whole, offers a reading of Westermann's work that seemsto tap into the kind of bricolage project he is engaging in, writing 'Westermann's entertaining examples (men built from boxes have and metal strips) art a tattoo artist's of pseudo-folk 56 interesting for details'. The the sights out of corniest, picayune creating capacity from however, critic John Canaday, who claimed that came most scathing notice, Westermann's 54Althoughthe showwasroundlycriticisedin the art press,mostcritics singledout Westermann's work in their scathingreviews. Chapterfour will addressthe way in which Westermann'sworks seemedso aberrantto his New York viewerswho wereunawareof the art scenedevelopingboth on theWestcoastandin Chicago. 55Kuh commentson the 'welcome though macabrehumor of the young Chicago artist providing us with a disquietingnew vision of ourselves'.KatherineKuh, 'Disturbing Are These "New Imagesof Man"', SaturdayReview,October24,1959,pp. 48-49. 56MannyFarber,'New Imagesof (ugh)Man', A rtnews58, no. 6, October1959,pp. 38-39,58, p. 39.
stale Dada concoctions add nothing to a movement that made its "succinct long Westermann ago. offers a view of contributions the world which has become a madhouse", according to the he is just For in me, a guest who arrived a clown catalogue. suit, forty years late for a costume party, to find a formal dinner in progress.57 Canaday's refusal to see Westermann as anything other than an embarrassing by harsh, was particularly no means unique. whilst anachronism,
interesting, however, are those reviews that understand the folkish nature of Westermann's works as deliberate and strategic. When reviewing Westermann's Angeles Museum Contemporary in Los Art 1968, Stacy the of at solo exhibition Moss focused on Memorial to the Idea of Man if He Was an Idea, pointing to the difficulty that viewers have in wresting information from Westermann's work.
Moss appears to reject the assumption put forward by Selz that Westermann's objects such as thesepersonnages are comments on contemporary conceptions of 'Man'. She asks whether they should be understood instead in terms of existential line, irreverent institutional jokes that and with no punch gags satire or simply as 59 fish-hook, in 'a kind snagged the memory', of emotional persist as irrational, haunt joke images inexplicable the that they cannot viewer as a unforgettable, fully grasp. Westermann's harsh treatment at the hands of these New York critics may have been due to Westermann's dislocation from his Chicago base where conformity to the New York School model was less an issue. It may be, however, that there was for looking 'clues' fundamental the these to wrong reviewers problem with a more his work. What is clear, however, is that something in Westermann's work was 'folksy', dadaesque for It too and naYve critics to take vulgar, appeared excessive. identifying like Farber to close something a strategy of comes seriously, although for his Canaday 'pseudo-folk' the of work which, was simply aspect nostalgia and unforgivable.
57John Canaday, 'Art: New Images of Man', New York Times, September30,1959. " Stacy Moss, 'Fishhooks in the Memory', Time, December 20,1968, pp. 66-69, p. 66. 59Ibid.
Westermann's'nostalgia' is steepedin a tradition that is just as mythic as the 'tales' it seeks to tell. This mythic construct serves a dual purpose in Westermann'swork. As a strategy of artistic practice it bestowsupon these objects a 'past tradition', a meansof inserting them within the history of art, implying a lineage with its origins in 'folk art', or what Farber referred to as 'pseudo-folk'. Westermann'smost often-citedpredecessor, Polish-AmericanElie Nadelman'sclunky woodenvaudevillefigures were also describedin theseterms, 60 dedicated his Westermann to the one of and works artiSt. The homespun whimsy and folk-like charm that the early Modernist sculpturesby Nadelman far from Westermann's is, however, removed strategyof 'pseudo-folk'. embrace ***
A year after making Memorial to the Idea ofMan if He Was an Idea, Westermann constructed another assemblagelpersonnageentitled Brinkmanship, from 1959, an American Cold War policy, a critique spoken in that addresses awkward object the language of recycled objects and amateurish bricolage. Pieced together from from (111.3.12) is Brink7nanship made plywood and metal, separate sections, base, is which screwed a wooden relief profile of a male onto wooden on a resting head resembling Westermann. The mouth has a hinge screwed to it, suggesting is illusion, freedom an since it is fixed closed and of speech, which mobility and base. head firmly A large metal ballcock has to the the attached silenced, with been fixed to the crucifix of metal piping rising from the centre of the base, and at the extremities of the horizontal bar are two crudely shaped metal hands, figure the of a person. The figure holds an American unsophisticated suggesting hung between hands by been has two the a piece of string. On the ball car, which a face has been scratchedand moulded, smoking a cigar, with an American eagle Pepsi-Cola bottle forehead. head David McCarthy's top the the a on and on 60Homageto Elie Nadelman(1966)is a Douglasfir andashsculpture,comprisinga woodenbase an antiqueshovel with a tall sectionof wood fixed upright to the basefrom which is suspended handle,which Westermarmhascarvedhis 'signature'anchormark to. Insteadof a shovelat the bottom,Westermannhasstucka ball of laminatedredwoodandto the sideof the uprightsectionis a small castlead replica of the shovel. The shoveland dustpanwere forms that featuredalso in Westermann'sseriesof metaland carvedwoodenhandleDust Pan seriesof objects,although,in this instance,the shovelcannotbe usedfor shovelling,due to the ball. Adrian writes that in his homageto Nadelman,ratherthanquotedirectly,Westermarminsteadchoseto addressNadelman's (Adrian,p. 48). useof materialsand 'impeccable'craftsmanship. unconventional
detailed reading of this work analyses each of the constitutive elements of the in American Cold War he to the a reading relation conducts policy of the piece, as devices, diplomatic the enemy is pushed to the and other same name, whereby via brink of warfare, although with cooperation as the goal, not actual engagement.61 As a contentious and high-risk policy, brinkmanship engendered a political in 1950s America, hostility that, whilst no doubt an and paranoia climate of element of the work, does not quite explain it fully. McCarthy's reading works a little too well for me. Based, as it is in the most part, breakdown its is individual this title, the a systematic of constituent work's upon less together, that, a rather present resolved reading. It is the pieced when parts intractability or 'secrecy' of the work that is the point of origin in my (partial, biased, selective) story of
H. C. Westermann's objects.
Westermann's work is about war, and America, but it is also about something that in issue 'reading' be that the order very of or meaning such readings, put skews it is likes Selz this that the very and point of and those reviewers under pressure, dismissive of Westermann's work miss.
What interests me in Brink7nanshipis the structural processby which a Pepsi Cola bottle top, a piece of string, a crudely scratched face and ballcock might be held together, that is, where the 'glue' is the idea of bricolage itself rather than a be it to through all together. retrieved piecing narrative
The demand to
&understand'through a series of logical readings in which a Pepsi bottle top is a for America America-a kind the consumerism, eagle an and emblem of signifier for less important information-is here, than a model of evidence sifting of be brought As being together. things these might well as called a whereby 'Surrealist', and 'assemblageartist', Westermann is often placed under the label 'neo-dada', although his work has consistently managed to elide specific idiosyncratic in his Westermann, does technique, choice of whilst categorisation. however share important ground with many other artists, specifically West coast
61 David McCarthy, 'H. C. Westermann's Brinkmanship', American Art, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute, Fall, 1996, pp. 50-69.
62 George Herms, Wallace Berman Bruce Conner. The artists such as and important distinction between these artists' work and Westen-nann'sis the way in which each engageswith the ephemeraland vernacular environment in which they work.
Whilst Westermann certainly draws upon contemporary culture and
everyday objects, the aim of his work was not the temporary and casual, nor did he seek to challenge the status of three-dimensional sculpture.
Certain motifs Westermann shares with other artists are the soda bottle, the gas station and the automobile, (or 'antimobile' as he punned in his 1963 laminated plywood work of the same title), emblems of a newly mobile America. However, the way in which Westermann chose to deploy the soda bottle and gas station differs in important ways from his Pop and so-called 'neo-dada' peers. While Oldenburg was roughly moulding a Coca Cola bottle from plaster, and painting it in matt, blocky strokes, and Rauschenberg was placing empty, paint-stained bottles inside his wooden vertical unit in The Coca Cola Plan, and Warhol was form, its imperfectly, repeating across a number of two-tone silk screen endlessly prints, Westermann was lovingly carving, planing and sanding his from wood. His use of the Coca Cola bottle, a mock homage to the deification of Coca Cola, and all that it stood for during the Cold War as emblem of the successesof 'American the and way of life, functions in a rather different way to capitalism his Pop and Neo-Dada contemporaries.63 In Pillar of Truth (Ill. 3.13) the bottle, made from wood, yet painted silver as though cast in precious metal, is mounted on a fluted wooden pedestal, whose undulating surface echoes that of the
62Westermann has also been grouped with the 'Monster Roster' group of Chicago artists such as Leon Golub and Cosmo Campoli and the later Chicago-based 'Hairy Who' artists such as Jim Knutt. Both Robert Storr and Lynne Warren discuss the various affiliations and influences attributed to Westermann, highlighting the instability of such groupings. For example, the socalled 'Hairy Who' group of artists, including Jim Knutt, had not even begun studying at the S.A. I. C by the time Westermann left in 1961. Warren also points out that most of Westermann's drawings were unknown at the time, as they were predominantly private correspondences,and were therefore unlikely sources of inspiration for that generation of artists. See Lynne Warren, 'Right Where I Live': H.C. Westermann's American Experience', in H. C. Westennann, (2001), op.cit. More cynically, one could say there was a collective phenomenon to make careers out of idiosyncracy. 63At this time, Robert Arneson also made a series of ceramic soda bottles, which he displaced in a block, as though an unpacked consignment, although the roughly hewn surfaces and lurid coating of paints that drip down the side, whilst carefully crafted in a traditional material, shares much with Westermann's own engagement with the everyday in 7he Pillar of Truth. I return to Arneson's work in chapter four, specifically his series of homage works featuring Westermann's image.
bottle Cola. fluted barrelled Coca The base of this homage has been of signature dipped in a bath of lurid paints, transforming the wooden form into the suggestion The title of the piece, Pillar of Truth, is an ironic pillar. classical of a marbled 64 'It's the real thing'. twist on the company's slogan Trophy for a Gasoline Station (111.3.14) from 1961 again puns on the similar forms of the Coca Cola bottle and the classical pillar, although this time the object 'trophy' is the the top of another emblem of American consumerism: the placed at 'silver', A teeters at the tip of the pedestal, car, again painted wooden automobile. its expansive fins and long body an emblem of that society encapsulated in the excesses of
1962, one year before
Westermann's Trophy for a Gasoline Apollo, West coast artist Ed Ruscha took a series of photographs of gasoline stations. commitment
Unlike Westermann, for whom the
hand-made objects provided
the mainstay of his
he did 'nuances Ruscha hand-made the claimed not want of strategy, and working 65 He Gasoline Stations. Six his in Twenty was not after the nostalgic, the crafted' He 'I'm interesting. interested in Americana the said not even poignant, nor even [
took sixty or seventy photographs of gas stations between here and
... Oklahoma City.
Well the eccentric stations were the first ones I threw out. I 66 look it'. Although working at the opposite didn't want to have the of variety to
Westermann's the to scale of end
practice, Ruscha was far from
him, Westermann's influence in Los Angeles about acknowledging ambivalent 67 impression In 1997, during the sixties, saying 'he made a real on people. Ruscha demonstrated the extent to which
his own work
Westermann, by incorporating his image in his silk-screen print Bloated Empire (Ill. 3.15), which featured a large profile of Westermann's head, adapted from 64See Sidra Stich, Made in the USA: An Americanizationin Modem Art, the '50s and '60s, Berkeley, 1987, particularly the chapter on 'American Food and Marketing' in which Westermann'suse of the CocaCola bottle is discussedin relation to other artists working with emblemsof Americanconsumerism,suchas WayneThiebauld,ClaesOldenburg,Andy Warhol, etc. 65 Ed Ruscha, as quoted in John Coplans, 'Concerning Various Small Fires: Edward Ruscha Discusses His Perplexing Publications', [19651, reprinted in Ed Ruscha Leave Any Information at the SignaL Writings, Interviews, Bits, Pages, Alexandra Schwartz ed., Cambridge, Mass., 2002, p. 27. 66Ed Ruscha, as quoted in Douglas M. Davis, 'From Common Sense, Mr. Ruscha Evokes Art', [ 1969], reprinted in Ibid., p. 28. 67Ruscha, as quoted in Paul Karlstrom, 'Interview with Edward Ruscha in his Western Avenue, Hollywood Studio', , reprinted in Ibid., p. 182.
Westermann'sown caricatureof himself as it appearedin so many of his own drawings,prints and illustrated letters. This image of Westermannthat Ruscha includeshereis takendirectly from an illustratedthank-youletter sentto him by Westermannin 1972,which featuresWestermannin his typical guise as dapper, hand dandy, tuxedo-clad extended,marching along an abandonedport, white kamikaze plane. Ratherthan Ruschasimply paying completewith approaching lip-serviceto the impact of Westermann'swork on the West-coastin general,in BloatedEmpire Ruschapayshomagein the most enduringand intimate way, by directly including not merely an image of Westermann,but Westermann'sown four, his In I the chapter addressthe reasonswhy of work. centre work, right at Westermannseemsto invite such personalacts of homage,particularly why his felt by Ruscha keenly is other artists such as and, as we shall see, presence so BruceNauman,whoseseriesof works referencingWestermannprovide the focus for this concludingchapter. Whilst the Coca Cola bottles that Rauschenberg used were the detritus of that bottle for its Westermann's in the the retains work potential consumer society, recycling.
Although the bottles in Rauschenberg's combine are, also, quite
literally, 'recycled' objects, we see them at the end of their life, exhausted as it were, the ephemera of a society consumed with the wrappings, packaging and junk of its own making, a rather different strategy to that of Westermann. The in his is, is is Westermann it is, that the soda objects, recycling not what point bottle, the motor car, the reference to the gasoline station, but the meansby which he performs that processof recycling as somehow redemptive and ongoing, which bottles bricolage. he from That his the carves and planes of project structures imbuing his from junk Rauschenberg, it distances the of aesthetic project wood keen his Ruscha to that so empty work of, the of nostalgia was sense with traditional labour of the carpenter oddly juxtaposed with the ersatz, throw-away, Cola bottle, Coca the that gas station and automobile culture consumer excessive embody. ***
Just as bricolage itself encompassesa wide range of heterogeneous,private motifs and languages,so the word 'bricolage' has also been ascribed various definitions in different languages,many of which point to a process of deviation, or drifting off-course. L6vi-Strauss points out that the old-fashioned sense of the term 'bricolage' applied to ballgames, billiards, hunting and riding, in relation to some textraneous movement: a ball rebounding, a dog straying or a horse swerving from its direct course to avoid an obstacle'.68 In his work on bricolage, Martin Roberts claims that the term 'bricolage' is interchangeable with detournement, recalling the Situationists' drive to subvert meaning and drift through spacein an 69 in French, Roberts legal detour, the term for child whilst points out, unfixed de ditournement 'providing is mineur, an unexpected analogy molestation 70 Westermann's bricolaged objects such as between bricolage and perversion'. Mysterious Yellow Mausoleum that both conceal and partially reveal strange, fragments demand that thwart promise yet any resolution, a mode of surreal looking that is as perverseas the object's structure is eccentric.
This model of bricolage as somehow 'perverse' or obsessive could serve as a Westermann's to theorise through practice. Westermann's adorned which model have been described by detailed Kozloff as a 'tantrum of sculptures surfaces and 71and by Dennis Adrian as 'sculptural excrescences',which 'upon craftsmanship M: closer examination appear close to the obsessional a bricolage on the verge of hoarding mania. However, it is precisely his carefully planned and executed from differentiates Westermann's technique that that of the project working how hobbyist does know to stop, and which, it might or who not when obsessive be suggested, serves also to complicate the often-invoked suggestion of Westermann the Surrealist artist-the objet trouve loses something of its psychic charge when so carefully (and consciously) planned and executed. Westermann's bricolaging together of past motifs gives rise to a senseof d9ja vu, what Walter Benjamin described as the sensation that 'folk art' gives rise to in the spectator, 68Uvi-Strauss, op. cit., p. 16 69 See Asger Jorn's 'Detourned Painting', and other writings in Elisabeth Sussmann, ed. On the Passage of a Few People Through a rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1957-1972, Boston, 1989. 70Roberts, op. cit., p. 14. 71Kozloff, op. cit., p. 9. 72Dennis Adrian, 'The Art of H. C. Westermann', (1976), op. cit., p. 17.
73 familiar false belief is that the thing seen somehow already the to the subject. That the retrospective practice of bricolage might in some way engender this senseof dija vu, may be reconfigured here as another type of return, this time not but psychic: the objet retrouve, then? retinal Unlike other Neo-Dadaists, Westermann's humour and punning self-referentiality, whilst prevalent in works such as Walnut Box (111.3.16)from 1964, is often tinged with an eroticism and blackness absent from the work of, say Rauschenberg,or JasperJohns. Westermann is often loosely associatedwith a Neo-Dadaist senseof fondness for Duchamp's bad jokes typically cited as his with anarchy and play, Westermann's Walnut Box is a beautifully crafted walnut most obvious precursor. box, which is in turn filled with walnuts, and stamped with the title along the lid. , This explicitly self-referential work sharesmuch with Duchamp's plays on words, for example his alter-ego 'Rrose Selavy', and is often cited as an example of Westermann's object-jokes'.
However, Westermann was adamant that his work
jokes. be Works such as Walnut Box are, for merely as understood should not Westermann, about destabilising the viewer, they are not simply reflexive gags or he 1965 In wrote a scathing letter to Allan Frumkin about critic ontological puns. Brian O'Doherty, who had dared describe his work as visual gags: Brian 0' D-*11 once wrote a review (he is a "critic") to the effect the pieces were jokes. He should know I am deadly serious & have never made a "joke" yet - For instance the "Walnut Box" was quite removed from being a merejoke -That box came right from my guts as have the ones I've done here. I wonder if he has ever gone into a gallery & picked up a piece + looked at the bottom of it or bothered to walk around behind a piece & study it. When I make a mockery or joke out of work I will gladly sacrifice my other "ball" first. 74 Westermann's Surrealist label derives from his seemingly random and eclectic dreamlike juxtaposed jarring his in the of objects, ways, with melding of selection found the chance encounter and object that was so passionately visceral, and 73Walter Benjamin 'Some Remarks on Folk Art', in Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 2., Rodney Livingstone, trans., Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith, eds., Cambridge, MA and London, 1999. In a way, the grand, redemptive gesture of Benjamin's historian, whose task it is to seek light in the darkness of a bygone age could be recast here also within in the cycle of making-do and invention that is the work of the bricoleur. 74Lettersfrom H. C. Westennann,dated June 1965, to Allan Frumkin, p. 66.
by in his book Andre Breton 1937 LAynour Fou, or Mad theorised explored and 75 Robert Storr points out that Westermann, a generation younger than Love. American Surrealist Joseph Cornell, made no attempt to make contact with any Surrealist artists, claiming instead that Westermann attempted to 'naturalize' 76 it into by 'workmanlike Unlike the more translating a vernacular'. surrealism 'effete' and 'wistful' boxes of Cornell, Westermann, like Samaras, constructed 'sturdy describes in Storr as vitrines which incongruous but always what 77 display like in freak specimens a show'. substantial objects are on Donald Judd, in his 1963 review of Westermann's show in New York also picked 'substantial' 'sturdy' 'well-made, their the and nature, praising work's up on finish. [and] worked' carefully sanded
Furthermore, as Judd pointed to
Westermann's'obvious' connectionto Surrealism: It is obvious that Surrealist sources could be found for many of Westermann's ideas. It is just as obvious that the objects are [ ] The is diverse, it isn't possible work new. and so something ... 79 inclusively. to describe it Judd does not identify what those 'Surrealist sources' of Westermann's are, rather he is suggesting that the works' surreal quality seems to arise from the fact of their intractability. It is not Westermann's Surrealist precedentsthat interest Judd, but rather the way his works refuse to yield up their meaning. Describing 80 best Westermann as 'one of the artists around', an accolade he was also to accord Lee Bontecou two years later, Judd finds himself utterly taken with these 81 'thorough' objects. Judd was not merely attempting to ally Westermann odd, with a more contemporary set of references, such as the emergent Minimal aesthetic, but seems to pick up on their directness as specific objects. However, be his Bontecou, to there something more ambivalent, seems writing on as with less clear-cut at work here.
75Breton, Andr6, Mad Love, trans. by Mary Ann Caws, Lincoln, NE and London, 1987. 76Robert Storr, 'The Devil's Handyman' in H. C. Westermann,(200 1) op.cit., p.27. 77Ibid. 78Donald Judd, The Complete Writings 1959-1975, Halifax and New York, 1975, p. 99. 79Ibid.
Judd describes the laminated plywood piece The Rope Tree (Ill. 3.17) from 1964 in terms of the series of slippages it presents. A coiling twist of wood mounted on for Judd, Tree base, The Rope resembles, rope, wood, and 'tree', with the 'coils' a 82 bodies The changing point of view the imitating also 'the of people and snakes'. 83 'one-to-one Judd argues, but is allusions', not a simple shift of work offers instead offers a complex of multiple meanings, all the more impressive for their economy of form and materials.
It is this unstable aspect of the objects, in
form their simplicity of and status as specific objects, that shows with conjunction 84 'something What both their surrealist edge, as well as their originality as new'. Judd has essentially picked up on is the paradox of objects that seem to present themselves to the viewer so directly yet to be so elusive at the same time.
in direct '[t]hese their much objects own right, although their very are writes 85 it, 'the As Judd is hard is to get so succinctly put meaning recondite' meaning 86 at'.
Dennis Adrian, director of the Allan Frumkin gallery in New York, gave a more Westermann's he it Surrealist that of work, when claims reading straightforwardly 87 He described the way Westermann is tinged with a 'distillate surrealism'. 'mnemonically that produced work
refers to a past now inaccessible except 88 It is the teasing suggestion of through the articulated preserved relics'.
biographic detail that is so compelling in these works, the condensation of fragments Narrative into things. of memory a series of exposition experience and is, it Westermann intention these the rather, an of works, example of was never 89 few highly What places them 'concentrating instead on a charged motifs'. Surrealism is in 'real life', Schjeldahl their the rootedness as of puts remit outside 90 'oneiric. This is not merely it, they are more autobiographic than
Ibid. 83 Ibid. 84 Ibid. 85Ibid. 86 Ibid.
87Dennis Adrian, 'The Art of H. C. Westermann'. (1976), op.cit., p. 17. 88Ibid.
89Neal Benezra,H.C. Westermann:Selectionsfrom the Alan and Dorothy Press Collection, Chicago,1987. 90Schjeldahl,op.cit. (unpaginated).
but however, a complete utilisation of various storytelling, autobiographic different and replayed retrieved and moments, within a wholly encounters,objects described fragments best as 'fossilized evidence', distilled Such are network. debris, 'des describes bribes des L6vi-Strauss the as et morceaux', the bric-awhat brac that surrounds each individual's life, functioning now as mnemonic objects 91 to be retrospectively uncovered and revisited. L6vi-Strauss's term ' the debris 92 history individual 'fossilized the evidence of of an or a society' of events' as seemsa fitting description of Westermann's use of his own biography as strategy, that is, Westermann's strategy of what I'm calling here 'autobricolage'. ***
Westermann's development of a secret, 'poetic' language finds its most powerful treatment in the group of Death Ships he made throughout his career. Westermann returned to the Death Ship time and time again, selecting different he back history form his its as goes retrospectively and over own work, aspectsof for different it 'mean. Ship Death the ways of making mining
Straussclaims that the bricoleur speaks 'not only with things [ ... ] but through the 93 he ' things, stresses the privacy of that visual language, of the medium of in in 'mean'. Between the they to the are used order which ways symbols and language it, to the the necessity arises, this our access and of privation privacy of for the viewer, to glean what one can, to create one's own language in responseto the Death Ship, in order to make it 'speak' through the practice of 'autobricolage'. The repetition of the Death Ship motif functions as a kind of punctuation mark in Westermann's retrospective cycle of bricolage, a refrain that haunts him. The Death Ship and its accompanying motif of the shark fin operate as 'full stops' in Westermann's visual grammar. This idea finds its literal materialisation in the Westermann carved and mounted on polished wood marks series of punctuation (111.3.18), Thought from 1962, A Positive bases, 'marble' a carved as such and (Question 1962, both Untitled Mark) (111.3.19) of mark, and wooded exclamation 91Uvi-Strauss, op.cit., p. 22. 92Ibid. 93
It by Westen-nann lurid in these that was works paints. enamel coated a swatheof has invoked in his Artschwager Richard sculptural punctuation marks, artist he 'blips'; has William in T. too the called so relief, which wall mountedon Wiley in his 'marbled' plywood EnigmaShield(dateunknown)(M. 3.20). An early work, Death Ship of No Port (Ill. 3.21), from 1957, features a ship, lost figure, front is hunched Toward the the ship seated a small of up and at sea. fin Death Ship in The the the and shark also of appear motifs a number of alone. half-submerged in Memorial for the to the Idea of vessel example other works, Man if He Was an Idea. The shark fin is also found in Untitled (111.3.22),1965, a has black that a and white photograph of a married wooden glass-fronted vitrine The is full back in to the panel. groom naval uniform, and the couple pasted form fin. Two box the the the with repeated of shark studded small are edges of funerary flower, lily bottom the a classic are stems, placed at gatherings of white harmony decoupage background, The the box. of an outdated the apparent of image pasted to the back wall of the box, is punctuated with the actuality of a war that this man will surely die in, the happy moment of this couple's wedding literally enclosedwithin a language of death. The Death Ship remained one of the most persistent motifs Westermann used. They have been cast in bronze, dripped with tar, 'marbled' with a mixture of in They carved wood. are sometimes enamel paint and oil, and meticulously flat, bases, dollar bills, in they spare at other times upon sometimes rest covered they are encased in wooden vitrines, whilst others come as part of a box set, hold designed boxes to the ship. specifically carefully constructedwooden What each of the Death Ships share is a basic formal shape. After several finally decision Westermann to the arrived at one, a successful at making attempts list it bottom to that the ship, appears of each so create a slant on one side of list loss balance. It form lop-sided lurching, This to of at seems evokes a slightly. just the moment before the sturdy war ship sinks into the sea, a moment of becoming in which the ship slips from being symbol of protection to one of death, becoming a mass coffin for the many passengersor service men and women from Ship (Ill. 3.23) 1956, is in Dismasted This a carved clearly seen aboard. 162
form, listing two mast poles sticking up ship simple, comprising a walnut piece, from the centre, with a small bronze figure fixed to the surface, arms outstretched in the Christ-like pose of a martyr, a reference to a friend and fellow Marine body Westermann found tattooed at the top of a pile of other dead whose naked, 94 'a men: pretty ungodly sight' . The original source of the Death Ship motif stemmed from Westermann's horrific experiences whilst serving in the Second World War.
One particular incident,
in letter in 1978, by Westermann told this unsettling tale. a written recounted Having not set foot on land for over twelve months, Westermann went as part of a working
party to a neighbouring
Enterprise for another six months.
ship, only to return to the
A few days later, he heard that the
been bombed, had with no survivors. ship ammunitions
Westermann wrote that
fucking & home became immediately, to 'I to that coward was ready come a after 95 Describing the 'Death Ship' that hell
with the war and all
ship as a
Westermann later wrote to another friend how, in his drawings and sculptures of the Death Ship 'I'd like to add the horrible SMELL OF DEATH but that's 96 2300 impossible, dammit! of men'. Another time, another Death Ship: this time the attack he witnessed on USS Franklin,
sister ship to the Enterprise, again during the Second World
Westermann wrote 'another Death Ship that left an indelible [impression] & that was the poor ill-fated FRANKLIN'.
97 After the bombing, USS Enterprise had
escorted the burnt-out hull of the Franklin back to land, the smell of burning flesh and cargo haunting Westermann for the rest of his life. Westermann recalled how the Franklin 'was still smoking & had terrific list & the smell of death from her 98 The later horrible' U. S.S. Franklin Arisingfrom an Oil Slick Sea (111. work was . 3.24) from 1976 refers specifically to this encounter. The oil slick of the title is the black, white and grey slick of marble-effect paint from which the ship arises. Emerging from a shark-infested sea, it is as though the Franklin might here be 94LettersfromH.C. Westennann, p. 163.
95Westermann, as quoted in HC Westermann: WEST, David King, and Melani McKim-King Richmond, CA, 1997, p. 15.
96Lettersfrom H. C. Westennann,op.cit., p. 152. 97Ibid., p. 15.
98Westermann, 1966, as quoted in HC Westermann: WEST, op. cit., p. 15.
saved by the redemptive act of being painted, or carved, even, in 'marble', as testimony to, or recuperated as, 'art'. Through this strategy of autobricolage, in his Westermann of own biography that return instead as recycles emblems which representation, he creates a system of meaning which migrates across different biographic his incidents is He own as elements of that system, the using objects. life kind it through his bricolage. of a of makeshift playing out, as were, Although reconfigured as sinking, or, in the case of U.S.S. Franklin Arising from from immortalised in 'marble', Sea, in Oil Slick the tar or up sea; rising coated an be Death Ship in to the the way that other refuses mobilised marines, peopled with There is Westermann's were. no permeability to the way in which the motifs of Death Ship can 'mean' in this system. They signal a rupture, or moment of breakdown in the bricoleur's redemptive practice of making something new from haunt his in forms. that that the system ghosts return reconfigured old, something Whilst the most explicit works by Westermann in terms of their references and historical grounding-they
are 'about' war, they are 'about' Westermann's
horrific experiencesat sea-the Death Ship stands as the most enigmatic form he bears the all the marks of the secret, or story, that of which repetition constructed, it is however That horror the true and often recalled repeated. remains repressed, of a burning, sinking, ship-turned-death-trapcould never be wholly articulated or representedbecamea point of frustration for Westermann, who wrote I guessI always loved ships... I like the sea+ feel at home there. But then I have seen 'Death Ships', many of them +I can't get them out of my lousy system. You know how it is! Well I still make those ships +I am a 48 year old fart. + they still aren't very good, but I don't give a damn + they satisfy some kind of 99 need there-But they are all Death Ships now. Although Westermann had always loved ships, and the use of the ship form from his days in Los 'naturally' him, to up growing came stemming always 100 harbour 'just looking days he Angeles when would spend at the around', this all changedafter his military service. Having served in two wars, the ship returned in the form of Westermann's Death Ship, which went on to haunt his system of 99Lettersfrom H. C. Westermann,op.cit., p. 149. looIbid.
constructionand building. His romancewith the seaand the navy became,posthorror sepulchral and refusalto fit into place,for as we can see, war, repletewith 'they are all DeathShipsnow'. Try ashe might, Westermannhadto admit defeat in his attemptsto retrospectivelyrecuperateits form, when he wrote: 'I can't get them out of my lousy system'. A DeathShip from 1965,DeathShipRun Overby a '66 Lincoln Continental(Ill. 3.25) containsa pine DeathShip restingupon a sea of dollar bills, evoking the financial and moral hypocrisy of warfare, the ship bearingthe tyre marksof Westermann'sfather-in-law'sLincoln car. The decision to placethis work in a vitrine, sealedoff from the loving handsof the artist caused Westermannto write, in an illustratedletter to Frumkin, of how he had handled this 'strangeand beautiful' ship ten thousandtimes beforeencasingit, as though he could not put it down.101 For all its visual force and repeated appearance in three-dimensions,
it is in
Westermann's celebrated drawings, prints and illustrated letters that he engages the motif
of the death ship in its most literal
figures details, fins the ever-present and planes, with shark gliding surroundings, in the oceans he sketches. explore
Lee Bontecou had also sought, in her drawing, to of her sculptural
abstraction of the reliefs ultimately
where the suggestive
became her preferred way of working,
replacing the more literal drawings of grimacing mouths and chomping teeth. As it has recently been pointed out, 'Westermann's
prints seldom have a clear
the themes and connection with the forms of his sculptural production-though 102 Although the Death Ship motif often appears in his series concerns are shared'. of lithographic prints begun in 1967, the ship is mediated through an engagement with American films and folklore, just as his inclusion of an image of Popeye on occasions is Westermann's
of his own sea experiences
through the cartoon bawdiness of Popeye. For all this obfuscation and mediation, Westermann is unmistakably presenting a set of images that explicitly evoke the loneliness during fear he the trauma and of warfare and and experienced violence his time spent at sea. In one illustrated letter from 1978 (Ill. 3.26), Westermann
101 LettersfromH.C. Westermann, to Allan Frurnkin, Ibid, p. 69.
102Dennis Adrian, 'The Artist as Print-Maker', in See America First: 771ePrints of H. C Westermann,Chicago, 2001, p. 30.
depicted the burnt-out USS Franklin in the aftermath of the kamikaze attack outlined above,from which hasbeenhurled the naked,deadfigure of his tattooed friend, CorporalPaul 'Stick' Flower, whosebody Westermannsaw and identified by the large Americaneagleemblazonedacrosshis chest,depictedherein bloodred to match the sky, in which sits a cartoonishdepiction of the devil, who has usurpedGod,taking his placeon a cloud of flamesandsmoke. Within Westermann's 'pen-nutable' system of bricolage, 103the shark fin is also drawn from earlier works and drawings, standing as a stamp of authenticity which by 'Westermann'. is It the as work also, like the laminated exclamation marks mark, a point of punctuation or resistancein his system. Westermann's attempts to exorcise the terror and deep attachment he felt in connection to the sea and the American Navy have echoes across his artistic output, signed always with his trademark anchor, metonym. of the Death Ship whose form he could not resist. Westermann also uses the shark fin in his 1965 A Piece from the Museum of Shattered Dreams (111.3.27), placing it at the base of this large peanut-shaped 'tied' with twine with two trademark wooden rope 'knots' at object, wooden either end. The mysterious packageis bound up in a rhetoric of loss and shattered dreams, punctuated at the base with the carved anchor-signatureof the artist, and two ebony shark fins, reconfigured this time within the Death Ships' grammar of retrospection and disappointment.
In these works, which are poised on an axis between the historic specificities of war and a more general melancholic senseof death, the Death Ship functions as though it may be the secretthat unlocks Westermann's system of bricolage. UviStrausswrote,
[t]he elements which the "bricoleut" collects and uses are "preconstrained" like the constitutive elements of myth, the possible combinations of which are restricted by the fact that they are drawn from the language where they already possessa sensewhich sets a limit on their freedom of manoeuvre.104 103L6vi-Strauss, op.cit., p. 20. 104Ibid., p. 19.1 want to retain this senseof the various elements of bricolage containing within them an echo of their past in order to counter claims that Westermann's remit of emblems is simply arbitrary, or is just a stock set of symbols signifying 'war', 'death', etc.
This finds its mostextremeexamplein the caseof the DeathShip. It just can't be shifted or re-worked. Far from its being simply 'pre-constrained',harbouring echoesof its horrific origins and past function, the DeathShip may even signal a threatto the continuedworking of that system:a full-stop. The apparently simplistic, almost crude form of Westermann's Death Ships camouflages the actual complexity of the motif, made manifest in its repetition in Westermann's twenty-seven year career. During this time it changed very little, its initial Westermann to often returning sparsely detailed format, carved with from one piece of wood. Its trademark appearancedoes not get diluted through time or repetition; as the ships lurch between black humour, political comment, and the depiction of tragedy and loss, the insistence of the Death Ship becomes more and more pronounced. ***
The storiesthat Westermann'sworks seemto tell arehighly autobiographical,yet, asJuddpointedout, they areoddly 'recondite' at the sametime. As Kozloff put it 'one does not know which one of several conceivableinterpretationsmost 105 applies'. DennisAdrian hascompellinglydescribedthis situationin termsof a paradox,in which 'thereis no mystery,obscurityor obfuscationin his work or its methods, but what they are about are mysteries and puzzling enigmas of 106 perceptionand understanding'. The red herring of narrativecohesionwe are presentedwith is only one more fragmented,recycledand opaquecryptic object. As Kozloff put it, 'H.C. Westermannis a sculptorwho may be saidto be obsessed with visual art's lack of utterance'.It is a problem of unspeakability,raising the question'[h]ow to give voice to his soul whenthe producthe makes,his only real form of communication,is, in fact, silent'.' 07
105Kozloff, op. cit., p. 7. 106Dennis Adrian, H. C Westennann,(198 1) op.cit. As I showed in chapter one, it is the structural devices of obfuscation, secrecy and concealment rather than the discovery of what those secrets and hidden mysteries might be that is so disquieting and interesting in these works. 107Kozloff, op.cit., p. 6.
Beneath their raucous, vibrant, colourful,
eclectic surfaces and interiors,
Westermann's works radiate this silence, or unutterability. Bricolaged together, the retrospective process of retrieval, identified as a strategy of pseudo-folk, finds its explanation not in the serial trope of modernist reproduction, or the vernacular but in language Surrealism, Pop the that cannot be spoken, of repetition of a or of experiences that cannot find their visual counterpart. That mythic past or folk tradition of which Westermann's works seem so much a part, is found to be false. He has invented his own tradition and past, through the retrospective strategy of bricolage, presenting a permutable system of motifs that recur and repeat as though seeking resolution, yet lacking the meansby which to achieve it. Inaccessibility has proved to be the defining aspect of Westermann's work since its inception. Allan Frumkin, Westermann's first dealer in Chicago, recalls how Westermann would send a piece of work so tightly worked and on occasion 108 had break literally into he it, to and when Westermann's pieced together, laminated plywood piece Antimobile (Ill. 3.28) was first examined by curators at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the joints of the wooden box supporting Antimobile were so tightly fitted it was initially thought that Westermann had 109 fact, first his In box time the them very pinball machine piece, on. painted About a Black Magic Marker (Ill. 3.29) was exhibited in Chicago, in 1958, it became the subject of an attack, as someone tried to crack into its interior. Westermann declared proudly afterwards that it was 'so well built that when some for him do it. Just fucker hack it it to to tried too to strong much apart was crazy 110 scratchedthe surface'. The private personal and 'poetic language' Westermann speaksis one replete with silence and riddles, akin to Abraham's and Torok's description of the discourse of the analysand as an incomplete jigsaw puzzle, or collection of disparate, broken fragments. These 'broken symbols' suggest that the words spoken are 'shrouded "' by known forms listening'. The dense be deciphered by an enigma too to of 108Allan Frumkin, in conversation with the author, New York, April 2001. 109 In conversation with Alan Myers, registrar, Whitney Museum of Modem Art, April, 200 1. 110Westermann,as quoted in April Kingsley, op.cit. The incident occurred the first time About a Black Magic Marker was exhibited in Chicago, in 1958. 111Abraham and Torok, op.cit., p. 79.
but is lacking, Abraham Torok not and conclude, symbolic meaning as such 'listen', in by find it. Similarly, to to the the order which means correct rather, language Westermann's to the of system of autobricolage secret problem of access is a factor literally impacted within the objects themselves. In the following how 'listen' in I to to this and of silence question relation to the return chapter, for In the the this the concluding chapter ear serves as a metaphor ear. motif of homage function. in artistic acts of various ways which
CHAPTER FOUR Haunting/Homage: Bruce Nauman and The Case of Westermann's Ear On March 30th, 1967, in a photographic studio in London's Chelsea, British artist Peter Blake began arranging the series of wax dummies and cardboardcut-outs that Beatles Sergeant Pepper's together, the the on cover of album massed appear, would Lonely Hearts Club Band (Ul. 4.1). The concept behind the cover was an imaginary Behind John, Ringo, Paul George Sgt. Pepper concert. and were gathered a at crowd from drawn literature, figures, television, cinema art, politics, music, eighty-seven both historical, dead The the selected were contemporary and people and religion. jostling for elbow room alongsidethe living, forming a kaleidoscopic sea of famous (and not so famous) people, the flamboyantly vivid face of one countered by the look based lists The of another. selection was upon compiled sepia-printed ghostly by the Beatles. George selectedmostly Gurus, John wanted Jesusand Hitler, whilst " 'whatever happy the others say. The rest of the crowd was chosen Ringo was with by Blake and his dealer,Robert Fraser. Collaged together, the various celebrities, icons and artists fight for space on the discrepancies, They there they and are size overlap stand on. small elevatedplatform for example, where a miniscule Shirley Temple comes only to the knee of a leap instantly figures Dietrich. Certain Marlene out, grabbing one's statuesque black The longer identify. take to and white sultry gaze of attention, whereasothers Marilyn Monroe staresout from below Edgar Allen Poe, whilst the right-hand side of her head is obscured slightly by her neighbour, William Burroughs. The top fight image of Bob Dylan's head is instantly recognisable, as are the smiling, colourful faces of Laurel and Hardy, the louche pose of Marlon Brando and the beardedfigure faces featured Virtually Karl Marx. are visible and, although a certain amount all of 1Ringo Starr, as quoted in Peter Blake, inlay sleeve,Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, , London, 1967.
of obscuring and blocking necessarilyoccurs, we can see the faces of most people. There is, however, one partially hidden face. Flanked by playwright George Bernard Shaw, soccer player Albert Stubbins and directly beneath the pink double chin of Oliver Hardy, is a black and white image of H. C. Westermann,his face concealedby the lime-green feathered plume protruding from George Harrison's hat.
photograph which Blake has blown-up and mounted on cardboardis cropped from an Westermann in his image of yard, next to his 1963 laminated often-reproduced (Ill. The Big Change 4.2), hands in 'knotted' piece, pockets, evenly greeting plywood the camera's gaze. So near yet so far; placed in the front line of the crowd, secondonly to the Beatles themselves, yet refused a place in the final line-up of visible, identifiable faces, Westermann'seffacementis an accidentno doubt of the practicalities of collage and arrangementof such a large collection of images. Westermann's placement does, however, neatly insert him into a moment of popular culture, as well as a processof him into hall incorporates fame It that registers also a pantheon or of assemblage. Westermann's significance, if only obliquely, for his historical moment and artistic context. A studio shot taken prior to the final line up in which Blake is seen arranging the crowd, before the Beatles take their place, clearly shows the image of Westermann(Ill. 4.3). It is an oversized image, his head looms larger than either of his neighbours. The photograph of Westermannwas taken straight on, swept back hair revealing an open countenance,a strong presencecapturedonly in this snap-shot before Blake's its elision from the finished collage and final album preparation of cover. Only Westermannis wholly effaced amongstthis seaof contemporariesand celebrity icons. Obliterated by a hat, this chance arrangement of a feather floating over Westermann's face, momentarily absenting him from the scene he is so centrally for in, this chapter. Westermann still persists as a a starting point provides placed figure in the margins of contemporary art practice, having haunted the work of a
Westermann's inclusion in Blake's somewhat twee artists. whole generation of album cover highlights the fact that it seemsto be Westermann'sfate to be framed in in Pop this chapterI re-examinethis categorisation although of art, canon a provincial homages light in his those to Westermann the of subsequent references and work of that have appearedin other artists' work, and which his work seemsto attract. During the same year as Blake's seminal album cover, and four years after the West-coast based Change, Bruce Westermann's The Big artist of construction Nauman, fresh out of art school, produced a seriesof drawing and sculpture homages 'to', or 'about', Westermann. Whilst at graduateschool Nauman had been taught by William T. Wiley, Manuel Neri and Robert Arneson, and it was Arneson and Wiley idea interest in Westermann. The homage has Nauman's kindled of paying who latterly featured in Arneson's own work from the eighties, including a woodcut print his head, between Westermann's trademark teeth, as part of his Five cigar clamped of Famous Guys series of prints from 1983, which also featured Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon, Picassoand Arneson himself (111.4.4). Another of Arneson's works dedicatedto Westermannincludes a wooden bust of Westermann,upside-down atop downward from the thick trailing trail smoke of cigar a craggy, carved pedestal,with the upturned head. Called Head Stand on a Cliff (Ill. 4.5), the title is a homage to Westermann's own use of bad puns and word play in the labelling of his pieces, whilst the choice of wood in this piece by Arneson, a trained and famous ceramicist, is an explicit homageto Westermann'sown commitment to carpentryand woodcraft. In 1966, whilst still a student,Nauman had already toyed with the notion of homage in his fibreglass and resin Wax Impressionsof the Knees of Five FamousArtists (Ill. 4.6), in which he castshis own knee five times in a mould. One year later, in a sketch be Nauman to the planning another work of the samenature, seems same name, of five knee The imprints (Ill. 4.7). he to the to this time names chose assign except William he listed in T. Wiley, Bell, Lucas Larry the sketch were whose names artists Samarasand Leland Bell, an eclectic selection of artists who were all influential in
the Bay Area at the time, and also Willem de Kooning. In the sketch, Nauman has instead 'Self? ', de Kooning's name and written replacing the most scratched out famous, establishedartist on the list. He proposeshimself, then, as the inheritor of de Kooning's position at the same time aligning himself with some more 'moderately' he known artists, which noted at the top of the sketch. contemporary well This collection of artist's knees shows Nauman is creating is less a reverential like in-joke. By losing the oldest, most an more something and acknowledgement, famous artist from the list, Nauman instead slips himself into the line-up: a pantheon in Nauman turn that stands as a series of part-homages with as the of part-objects indented indexically I figure, the across strip of resin. want to represented central think about how homagefunctions in this and other works. Although this can be seen it is interesting knowing, of self-referentiality, practice also more post-modem as a than that. These are all artists that meant somethingto Nauman. What that entails I in last discussion building by the chapter. on my shall explore Nauman often incorporated himself into his works, but always in parts, casting himself in bits and pieces,as so many sparelimbs, waists, hands,mouths and torsos. With his tongue firmly in his cheek, Nauman's insertion of himself into this seriesof 'famous' artists is like Arneson's Five Famous Guys series,where he also ironically inserts himself into a line-up of infamous American artists as one of the 'guys'. Both Nauman, and later Arneson, are laying false claims to celebrity and ditching the art historical canon of 'guys'. By including themselvesin a list of great artists, both Nauman and Arneson effect both a pasticheof the canon of so-caHed'great masters', They inheritors be ironic that throne. the that they of suggestion may and also an inject a doseof West coast eclecticism into the higher echelonsof New York's finest artists. This parodic taking on board of the personaor qualities of another, although functions homage, fun the the whether wry, artist, also as category of great of making 'in This the name of' another artist work making or otherwise. reverential Jokey, Nauman's in form takes turn that a complex series of of mimicry, could read as a
homages'to', 'of, or 'about' Westermannthat he made the following year, in which Nauman again useshis own body as a substitutefor the presenceof Westermann. To clarify, by 'homage', I mean the incorporation of another artist's name or practice in the work of another, to various ends, whether as celebration, commemoration, mimicry, impersonation, collaboration, parody or as something slightly less selfTypically understood in terms of one yielding, or long-dead kinds the to the of another, often person, of of homage position submitting
conscious or intentional.
Arneson less by Nauman, this time take other artists at and on a rather performed fixed definition. They are less reverential, or rather, more reverential in a tongue-inhomage is being is in jokey the to though person whom paid somehow as way, cheek, from bronze being in Rather joke. than cast or carved marble, as permanent the on Nauman homage I kinds that and, the shall argue,contemporaryartist of monuments, Rachel Whiteread are involved in are more ephemeral,casual and oblique, retaining a is Sometimes it if being homage they as end up an ambivalence. certain amount of by accident. Dislodging the notion of homage from its usual place within a instead I tradition marks and establishes continuity, which patriarchal system break in in in homage the terms the temporal system, as of a a rupture understand becomes, It inheritance. in tradition paradoxically and practice, of succession somethinglike a break with tradition. It is around theseideas of the homage and what I shall call the part-homagethat this final chapter is structured, as patterns of inheritance and influence are tracked between and amongstcertain artists. We have already seenthis at work in the series between Fontana in box-homages the and connection addressed chapter one, of Bontecou's use of the void, and Ed Ruscha's work incorporating the image of Westermann. Through this I hope to develop a model for thinking about artistic borrowings disjointed and connective series of more complex, yet as a rather practice inheritances,that I want to consider as a kind of 'haunting', what Nicolas Abraham
2 'phantom has describedas a effect'. By examining the repeatedmotif of the 'ear' as it appearsboth in Nauman's work on Westermann, and the 'ear' as it figures in the in 'ear' I to think the the about way want which artists, might certain other work of literally in both these cases,as an exemplar of those and quite metaphorically stand influence listening that the processes of and silence and inheritance strategies of engagewith. In anothercontext, this is what literary critic Harold Bloom has describedas a kind of 'mishearing' of the voices of another's text, in order that the listener might perform 'misprision', Bloom through which they might or misreading, creative a calls what develop their own take on a given text in order to pursuetheir own connected,though 3 To 'hear' something is a less reliable means of gathering, storing original projeCt. has been down, kind information to than that something read on written a and passing both Walter Benjamin's historical that 'word task and structures mouth' of of aural Deffida's model of 'otobiography', as I shall demonstrate,as well as accounting for the irrational transient 'surd' state of mutability at the centre of Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty. This kind of hearing, in which the ear may tune in and out, may miss out is Nauman's homages but to the that truth. on something closer up pick on accuracy irregular, form level function taking the the the and of an ear, an of partial at also deeper knot, but loop through they to time the cut act-out a or a at same arm, a focus I Toward this the chapter on the small, of end or relation. correspondence in 1986, her by Whiteread when shetoo was still a student,as ear made cast of plaster later incorporate the to sculptural practices scope expanding of my project of way a since the sixties. ***
2 See Nicolas Abraham, 'Notes on the Phantom: A Complement to Freud's Metapsychology', in Abraham, Nicolas and Torok, Maria, 77zeShell and the Kernel, vol. 1, Nicolas Rand, ed. Chicago, 1994.1 will return to Abraham's conceptof the phantom toward the end of this chapter. 3 Harold Bloom, The Anxiety of Influence: A 7heory of Poetry, New York and Oxford, 1997.1 return to Bloom's text toward the end of this chapter.
During his time as a graduate student at the University of California at Davis, Nauman found that the teachersthere encouraged students to develop independent ways of working, or, as Nauman put it, they 'left him alone', providing the basis for 4 describes his 'drastically Livingstone Jane as undirected' engagementwith art. what Whilst studying, Nauman moved from painting and drawing in 1965 to producing fibreglass sculpturesof body parts and abstractcastsin rubber as well as participating in two performance works of art by other students. It was during his highly for his Masters degree that the seeds were sown for time studying productive Nauman's eclectic career, in which he went on to work in sculpture, performance, installation and video art. Whilst
his Nauman then-tutor Wiley, and at art college,
with whom Nauman
decided to embark upon an attempted collaborative projects, of completed a number collaboration
and Nauman found out that
Westermann had once lived in San Francisco for a short time in 1964, they decided to begin a correspondence with him, in the hope that he would engage in a series of mail-art
exchanges with them.
They were inspired by the recent Man Ray
retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, in which they were fascinated by Man Ray's The Enigma of Isadore Ducasse (Ill. 4.8), a sewing-machine bound up in a sheet with lengths of rope, which was given the secondary title of The 5 for Wiley in Nauman drawn
to the cryptic nature of this work, both its wrapped,secretcentre and its two titles that 'information' be both to and encryptedenigmasat the sametime. explanatory seemed They felt that this work had strong resonance'swith the works of H.C. Westermann,
4 Jane Livingstone, in Jane Livingstone and Marcia Tucker, Bruce Nauman: Work from 1965-1972, Los Angeles, 1973,p. 10. 5 This famous work by Man Ray is, of course,referring to Lautreamont's famous suggestionthat the juxtaposition of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table embodied a kind of psychically liberating experience, the chance encounter, a concept taken up with gusto by the Surrealist artists. In many ways, this cryptic, wrapped-upobject servesas prime example of the kinds of secretiveobjects under discussionin this thesis, itself a kind of 'haunting' motif.
and was an object that went on to haunt each of their future work, lurking in the backgroundof much of Nauman's later works and titles. Westermannhad fascinatedNauman for severalyearsby this point, ever since he had seen his 1958 Mysteriously Abandoned New Home, on show at The Art Institute of Chicago. Nauman recalls first seeing the work in the stairwell of the museum, 'a kind of lighthouse tower with prominent windows,' which he found 'strangely out of 6 in characterwith all the rest of the stuff the museum'. Wiley and Nauman decidedto him for his ideas Man Westermann Ray's The Enigma of Isadore to ask and on write Ducasse, specifically the 'enigma' of its title, in the hope that one enigma might in 'riddle' their attempt to 'get the ear,' as Neal the of another, or secret resolve 7 Wiley describedhow Nauman and himself set about Westermann. it, Benezraput of contacting Westermann: We put the letter together with a piece of carbon paper, folded them him. The letter to them would pick up scratches, up, and sent fingerprints, folds, and so on while it was handled in the mail. We thought it would be funny. We didn't make any marks ourselves, but it would arrive with whatever marks had appeared during the 8 trip.
Westermann'sresponseto the oblong sheetsof carbon paper was one of his famous illustrated letters, a decorated valentine that said 'I know you're gonna think I'm some mean thing-but that card was almost an enigma in itself ..Slow down! What's 9 Wiley recalls that '. hurry?? your when he first met Westermann, and said it was himself and Nauman that had sent the note, Westermannresponded 'I thought you 6 Bruce Nauman,asquoted in Coosje van Bruggen, Bruce Nauman, New York, 1988, p. 109. 7 This phrase is Benezra's, which he uses when referring to Wiley and Nauman's attempted correspondencewith Westermann. SeeNeal Benezra,Kathy Halbreich, Paul Schimmel, Robert Storr, ed., Joan Simon, Bruce Nauman, Minneapolis, 1994. Although Nauman did not try to contact Westermannagain, Wiley did continue the correspondence,becoming a friend of Westermann's. In 1967, Westermannrespondedto Wiley's requestfor a piece of work with a wooden plaque, a carved ýift that bearsthe title Nothing is to be donefor William T. Wiley etchedinto the surface. William T. Wiley, as quoted in David King and Melani McKim-King, eds. HC Westermann:WEST, California, 1997,p. 48. 9 H.C. Westermann,as quoted in Ibid.
him Wiley they most certainly were not, 'that to which assured were puttin' me on', both Bruce and I liked-and had a deeprespectfor his work which was true. 10 ... Evacuating all but the chance imprint of the journey and any marks Westermann its blank the this to on paper upon arrival, sheetof carbon paper make choose might fugitive haphazard, strategy of collaboration, in which the figure of outlines a 'Westermann' is sought but necessarily deflected before arrival, as any definitive imprint he might chooseto make would be underscoredand bound by the scratches, during inflicted The folds transit. already carbon paper could scrapes and pressures, but be Sending in the will always the state, somehow altered. same never arrive for both Westermann, they admired, and to artist point of reference, an even, of paper them, so that it is marked by their own project upon arrival neatly inverts the usual by Westermann inheritance by he influence the sending and means which model of This 'mark'. his sheet of carbon paper pre-empts Westermann's own must make it be boundaries The by the which can within made. complicated response providing Nauman Wiley in both homage that engaged and with this project notion of highlights the potentially ambivalent reception of such a gesture, with Westermann himself certain they were merely 'puttin' him on'. ***
The series of homages to Westermann that Nauman made incorporated both sketches he had demonstrating that although abandoned his drawing practice and sculptures, two years earlier, it remained an important medium for working through formal problems in three dimensions. Large Knot Becoming an Ear (Knot Hearing Well) (El. 4.9) is a sketchy line drawing, formally
resembling the vertical format of
Westermann's Yhe Big Change (Ill. 4.10), and was probably intended as a preparatory (111. for Nauman's Ear Westermann's the sculpture entitled of same year outline 4.11), an object combining the readymade, found material of rope with plaster and 10Ibid.
in Nauman Square Knot homage the The the three series are made works other wax. (111.4.12), Knot (H. C. Westermann) Square Untitled (Square two the sketches works, Knot) (111.4.13),and the sculpture Untitled (Ill. 4.14) all from 1967, and all of which feature a pair of crossedarms that echo the tied knot of the rope from which they are Nauman homages Interestingly, the time to made at same also a series of suspended. Henry Moore, which I addressin somedetail later on. ***
In Westermann'sEar a length of rope is 'knotted' extremely loosely in a number of knot half-way through though the a completion at as point spirals, elegant yet spare, before the two slightly fraying and unsealedends are pulled and the loop secured. One end hangslower than the other, which has been usedto form the central curve of in lazy loops, downward Cascading the rope has a coarselyloop. a series of the halfway left-hand the adhered around plaster side of the shaped clump of white largest hanging loop. The swirl of plaster clings to a tightly-pulled reef knot which has knot, to the the through stuck only which partially plaster moving remains visible from opaque and thickly layered at the top to patchy and fragmentary toward the bottom. We are told that this reads as an 'ear' not only by the title of the piece, but by the barest suggestionof an ear form, createdby shapingthe top side of the plasteredknot into a curve that resemblesthe tip of an ear. It is easy to make such a connection first detail, the this the at so slight of gesture, absurdity and we can enjoy once we see becomes What blindingly it hardly it then that obvious. seems that so clear registers, less clear as one looks more closely at this work, however, is whether that plastered be it Might fact 'ear' in knot is title the the to also not refers. only which reef bodily, loop large itself, that as somehow to the register also could of rope referring looped depict 'ears', Does 'ear'. the two this one rope made up of work an abstracted Or double knot? Is the the the or echo should of other? the one plastered other and
looped 'ear' the the an abstracted profile portrait, rope as with attachedto the we read left-hand side of the (Westermann's?) 'face'? This looped, spiral portrait of Westermann's ear finds another double in Robert Smithson's comparison of his 1972 Spiral Jetty with Brancusi's abstract portrait of JamesJoyce as a 'spiral ear' (111.4.15),in which he claims the ear-spiral metaphor 'suggestsboth a visual and an aural scale, in other words it indicates a senseof scale 1 In this portrait of Joyce as in that resonates the eye and the ear at the sametime'! language; is Joyce is Brancusi the that aural emphasising register of ear, spiral identifiable as a sound, that language is material not seen but heard. What is interesting here is not simply that Spiral Jetty formally resembles an abstract 'ear', but rather Smithson's emphasis on the importance of auditory as well as visual both Smithson's Spiral film, In Jetty over which he narratesa perception. registersof dialogue, and of course, Nauman's own video works incorporating sound, such as Sound Breaking Wall from 1969, in which two audiotapesplay in an empty room, him Nauman the other the exhaling, of making a pounding sound sound of one with kept is in laughing, the a stateof agitation and anticipation. Rather than spectator and the vociferous, devouring motif of the mouth, or the eye, the work of aurality demands a fundamentally receptive audience, with the ear open to that which interests here is fills it. What the point at which the ear of the me and envelops is listening double in Who its the then, and to whom? art. of work viewer encounters Who is speaking,in order that they might be heard? Describing his encounter at the centre of Spiral Jetty (HI. 4.16), Smithson finds himself utterly disorientated, his boundaries and sense of physical placement and He '[w1as I but in pressure. asks shadow under overwhelming a a placed presence body in [ II hovering bubble mind and outside a place was slipping out of plastic ... beginning, into locate dissolving trying to the nucleus at a unicellular myself again, 11Robert Smithson, 'The Spiral Jetty' [ 1972], Collected Writings, Jack Flarn, ed., California, 1996,p. 147.
the end of the spiral'.
What is compelling about Smithson's description of Spiral
Jetty is both the disorientation of subjectivity it causes,and also the way in which that disorientation is echoed in the subsequentloss of 'logic' from the work itself, as it spirals from a rationally mapped grid (the coordinatesof the jetty's actual place in the water, as plotted on a map) to a 'surd state', that is, a state of irrationality and 13 silence. Smithson writes, 'the surd takes over and leads one into a world that 14 by A muted sound, or silence is to be be cannot expressed number or rationality'. found at the centre of the spiral; the ear that cannot hear enmeshedwithin a world of irrationality.
The 'irrationality' that featuresin Westermann'sEar, whilst confusing in its title as to located, does is 'Westermann' not threaten subjectivity in the way where exactly Spiral Jetty does. Instead,it managesto render Westermann'spresencein the work in a fairly cryptic way. Joan Simon's account of Westermann'sEar from the 1987 Nauman's Whitechapel Gallery, London, the show at accompanying catalogue figuratively, in loops the terms of a portrait of a the of rope reading piece understands head,describing 'a very loose knot barely outlining the shapeof a headwith a cast of 15 Qualifying this statementwith the phrase 'barely outlining' lends attached'. an ear this description a certain amount of ambiguity, as no doubt intended by Nauman when making and naming the piece, as the viewer is encouragedto linger over the shape,to peer at the crusted plaster knot and to think about what the title means,for Westermann'sname which had and continuesto have a cult status. Simon goeson to homage Westermann's to this as a work working practice, describing the read 6portrait' as 'an affectionate, open-ended portrait, a lyrically precise statement
12Ibid., p. 149. SeeMargaret Iversen, 'Et in Utah Ego', for a fascinating discussionof the deathdrive, and 'dedifferentiation' in relation to the model of subjectivity Smithsonoutlines in Spiral Jetty. To be book, her forthcoming in Art Beyond the Pleasure Principle. Thanks to Margaret Iversen published for letting me read a unpublisheddraft of her chapteron Spiral Jetty. 13Ibid. 14Ibid.
15Joan Simon, 'Nauman Variations: Back to the Future', in Nicholas Serota, Joan Simon and JeanChristopheAmman, Bruce Nauman, London, 1987,p. 16.
locating the sculptor's endeavor not only in the hands but in the mind'. 16 Reading Westermann's Ear in this light, Westermann is declared to be 'a vital figure, an artist 17 'know' because 'see' he is ideas'. The and who continues to open to
suggestionof this work being a thought-portrait, 'drawn' in rope, as homage to the opennessof Westermann'sown project seemsproblematic. It is, I argue, a far less anodyne homage-as-celebration than Simon is suggesting. This is not a it is homage by Nauman as admirer than anymore a clear-cut straightforward portrait, it highly Rather, Westerinann's engages self-consciously with that concept work. of of the homage,of what, or how to posit a relation to another artist. The image comes into irresolvable before an collapsing our eyes, spiral which is as unstableas undone the looped rope positioned precariously in a 'knotted' position. It is a fantasy of in face fixity to the threatens that collapse of the logic of the piece-a security and body-part literal the as counter to Smithson's disintegrating of physical undoing 18 Spiral Jetty. the of centre at subjectivity Three years earlier, Samarashad incorporated an ear into one of his colourful boxes. Like Nauman's ear, Samarassuspendedhis part-way down a length of rope. This ear hangs down the side of the box, and is placed next to a suspendedseveredfinger, both of which just fall short of the dangerousbed of nails covering the bottom of this by Backed 15 (Ill. Box No. 4.17) from 1964 is part mirrored glass, container. plastic of a set of boxes which, like Nauman's 'Westermann' series of pieces, encapsulate homage. The form Box No. 15 is 'the L Box', which, title parenthetical of of another 16
Ibid. 17 Ibid. 18See Mignon Nixon, 'Posingthe Phallus', October,Spring 2000, pp. 99-127,for a fascinating how it in 'survives' logic the the and part-object post-warart as disruptive,repetitive of of analysis Nixon's description death-drive. the of the part-objectas it appearsin the work of of embodiments Eva Hesse, Yayoi Kusama, Marcel Duchamp,JasperJohns, and Bourgeois, Louise as such artists drawsuponthe Nauman,in whichthebodyreturnsin a numberof irruptive,phantasmatic part-objects, of Melanie Klein. In Kleinian theory, the subjectdoes not progressin a linear psychoanalysis developmental movingfrom onestageto the next, patternfrom infancythroughto laterdevelopment, but ratherthe subjectmovessideways,as it were,througha seriesof positionsopento themthatthey can movebetween. Nixon's work providesa fascinatingmodelof disruptiveinheritancethat I am developinghere,somethingboth the temporaltrajectoryandkindsof objectsunderdiscussionin this too. chapterwouldconvincinglylendthemselves
along with the 'U, 'C', 'A' and 'S' Boxes, constitute Samaras's own 'auto-homage', although however much longevity and remembrance might be these works aim, its status is just as provisional as that of Westermann's Ear. The LUCAS boxes are not fixed, but can be re-arranged and opened up, and they contain labyrinthine tunnels destabilise boxes the that spatially and, subsequently, the status of miffor and sections of LUCAS himself.
The macabre elements hung inside the 'L Box' consist of a
series of part-objects, the result of a series of violent cuts that culminate here in a finger and ear. Samaras's intention with these boxes was to insert himself into art history.
Just as Duchamp had ironically commemorated his own artistic career in
Bofte-en- Valise, so Samaras claims also to 'see this place in history called Samaras's 19 'it is if it is In this mythical place as that he wants to commemorate, saying, mine'. in 'auto-homage' boxes, 'there is this Samaras this to tries series capture of which 'O for long been form, have I form'. time It is this this a using spiral spiral tower and this spiral form, typically seen in the swirls of coloured yam and pins Samaras used, that finds its bodily counterpart in Samaras's ear, with which he intends to secure his he finds is 'another it history, in through the that ear connection with the as place 21 past'.
The ephemerality of Nauman's Westennann'sEar, of the plaster that threatens to crumble away, the spiral of rope that will unravel at a single pull, and the transient in the that the pencil or away of charcoal easily rub or wash sketches quality accompanying sketches, have little in common of course, with the sturdy 22 fragile, Westen-nann's Use temporary of of own sculptural practice. craftsmanship 19Lucas Samaras, as quoted in Kim Levin, Lucas Sanzaras, New York, 1975, p. 54. 20Ibid. 21Ibid.
22Seechapterthree for a detailed discussionof Westermann'sworking techniquesand commitment to craftsmanshipand professional finish in all his works in relation to the work of his contemporaries such as Rauschenberg. In chapter three I compare both Rauschenbergand Westermann's differing treatmentsof everydayobjects, specifically the Coca Cola bottle motif that they both used.
materials did, however, play a large role in the formation of an aestheticsensibility in California, specifically those artists associated with the San Francisco Bay Area 23 Wiley 'leading luminary'. Nauman of was at college and of which was a where course, since the mid-fifties in New York artists such as Robert Rauschenberghad been putting together a variety of assemblagesor 'combines' that drew upon everyday materials, throw-away junk and recycled fabrics, as we saw in chapter two. Claiming that '[a] pair of socks is no less suitable to make a painting than wood, 24 fabric'. Rauschenberg for the turpentine, and oil was raising stakes a renails, displayed it, found but re-cast it, using it as a that the object not only negotiation of his large-scale toward the to end, construction an of means a combine medium, found its Duchampian in Rauschenberg's the twist use of readymade assemblages. JasperJohns's painted reliefs and collages, in which he would attach casts of body fragments,chairs, plates and brushes. On the West coast, however, the Duchampian aspectof East Coast 'assemblage'art Surrealism. Both Surrealism and Dada (specifically tinged with was more strongly Duchamp),proved influential on the West coast at this time. Man Ray had settled in Hollywood between 1940 and 1951, exhibiting and lecturing extensively during his time in Los Angeles, and continued to provide a model for younger artists even after he left, culminating in his large retrospective in Los Angeles in 1966 at which Nauman and Wiley first saw The Enigma of Isadore Ducasse and thought of Westermann. Joseph Cornell was another artist revered by the Californian art his box constructions influenced a wide range of artists. Thanks and community, largely to his patrons Walter and Louise Arensberg, whose home in Hollywood his for to opportunity so much of an unprecedented contemporary artists see provided became for important Duchamp also an point contemporaryartists at reference work, this time. 23Mark Levy, 'William T. Wiley', in Forty Yearsof Californian Assemblage,California, 1989,p. 222. 24Robert Rauschenberg,SixteenAmericans, New York, 1959, p. 58. Of course, Lee Bontecou was also very much engaged with the practice of recycling and reclaiming of materials which she incorporatedinto her own 'assemblage'reliefs.
During the forties, Julian Levy and William Copley, both instrumental to the display and dissemination of Surrealism, had opened galleries in Los Angeles. Cornell was included in many shows, such as Sidney Janis's 'Abstract and Surrealist Art in the United States' held at the San FranciscoMuseum of Modem Art in 1948, with a solo retrospective at the PasadenaMuseum in 1967. Ensuring a complex mix of East coast assemblage,Surrealism and California's own brand of funk art, then, the in fifties the those artists working of and sixties was assured by the pedigree York both New European and of array art practices that were so prevalent extensive during their formative years, from which evolved a highly idiosyncratic, yet instantly recognisableCalifornian aesthetic, that the work of Westermann along with Wiley, Wallace Berman and Jeremy Anderson were seento embody.25 Describing Anderson's 'visual rhetoric' of 'whimsical or poetic sentencescarved into the redwood material', of 'emblems that appearand disappear',JamesMonte, writing for the 1967 exhibition 'American Sculpture of the Sixties, held at the Los Angeles Museum of Art, could just as easily have been describing the objects of Westermann, 26 in his Monte describing to the work of artists article. are also referred was which Wiley, Anderson, and Berman: artists that added an element of folksy kitsch as such to assemblage,what Monte described as 'bagless funk', the term used by jazz describe 'a to sound or a look that is unsophisticated,powerful and draws musicians
25For more extensiveaccountsof West Coast art practicesseeForty Yearsof Californian Assemblage, op.cit., and Diane Walden, Collage, Assemblage,and the Found Object, London, 1992. Many of these artists are often discussedas Pop, or Proto-Pop artists, as well as 'Neo-Dada'. I would suggestthey also have strong ties with the so-called 'Nouveaux Rdalistes' who published their manifesto in 1960, written by Pierre Restany. Artists in their first exhibition in Milan in May 1960 included Arman, RaymondHains and JeanTinguely. Theseartists, along with Martial Rayasse,Daniel Spoerri, Niki de Saint-Phalle and Christo were also associatedwith this new aesthetic as were the more established figures such as Cdsar and Yves Klein. Invoking the use of mass-producedproducts of society, and attacking the hegemonyof American abstraction,theseartists adopteda Dadaesquenihilism, united in terms of what they were against, with no sharedformal appearanceor model of working. SeeAlfred Pacquement,'The Noveaux Rdalistess:The Renewal of Art in Paris around 1960', in Pop Art, Marco Livingstone ed., London, 1991, for a brief accountof the movement. 26James Monte, 'Bagless Funk', in American Sculpture of the Sixties, Maurice Tuchman ed., Los Angeles, 1967,p. 34.
27 folk Sharing Wiley's commitment to ephemeral materials, deeply on tradition'. such as his rubber and felt strips and use of plastics and cardboard, what Nauman 'sculptural Monte the claimed, was an elevation of achieved, sketch' to the 'highest 28 position'. Connectedto the working practices of his West coast contemporaries,yet infused with the 'new structural American sculpture', of New York, Monte is making the point that Nauman brought together in his work both East and West coast 29 practices. But if this is rather too neat a conclusion, the idea of a sculptural sketch is a very productive one from the point of view of this study. Citing the importance of Westermann to this younger generation of West Coast Westermann's '[e]ssentially Monte pieces are three-dimensional writes artists, 30 It is interesting that Monte describesNauman's ' ideas. sculpturesas repositoriesof 'sculptural sketches',as though the casual,or seemingly unfinished appearanceof the folds deflated fabric in fibreglass or of were some way preliminary to roughly-cast the completedwork. Nauman has claimed, '[m]ost of the drawings I make are to help 31 I'm Nauman's figure the of a particular piece working problems on'. out me drawing practice has been describedby Fideli Danieli, who, in the first important and Nauman's '[o]ften drawings that the on work pointed out article are executed serious has been desire the to fully terminate it, executed with concept as a sculpture, after a 32 develop ideas'. In his notes and other variants and to pass on new as well as to drawings, Danieli claims that Nauman researches,amplifies and condensesideas, veering from the explanatory to the 'boldly cartoonish', again, a description that just as easily suits the illustrated letters of Westermannto Allan Frumkin, which ranged from beautifully executed,detailed instructions of how a piece would be constructed
27Ibid. 28Ibid. 29Ibid. 30Ibid.
31Bruce Nauman, as quoted in Christopher Cordes, 'Talking with Bruce Nauman', in Bruce Nauman: Prints 1970-1989,New York, 1989,pp. 22-34. 32Fideli A. Danieli, 'The Art of Bruce Nauman', Artforum, December 1967,vol.5, no.4, pp. 15-19.
to rather more whimsical drawings that incorporated sketches of his planned 33 in sculpturesasthough a cartoon. This is a rather more interesting way of thinking about the 'sculptural sketch'. Instead of its situation as prior to the completed object, for Danieli a temporal shift 34 fulfilling desire it instead fact. The sculpture to resolve the piece after the a renders is not always, then, the finished result or resolution of a piece, but an ongoing process of working-through. Rather than being the 'three-dimensionalrepositories of ideas' that Monte claims to be the casefor Westermann,for Nauman, the sculptural sketch, as both descriptive term for the unfixability or ephemeralityof the object, and as twodimensional drawing, proves vital to an understandingof the sculpture. Coosje van Bruggen understandsNauman's sketches as prior to the three-dimensional object. She situateshis practice as very much part of its time, with the claim that for Nauman 'drawing is like thinking', implying its role as process, a working-through of 35 form. in problems before they are realised plastic I want to return now to his sketchLarge Knot Becoming an Ear (Knot Hearing Well) fact its being in to the terms either prior or after of the sculpture WesterMann's of not Ear, but as a remarkable work in its own right, which shedslight on the sculptural in drawing it This was produced conjunction retains an element of literal with. work representationthat points to a more recognisablebodily elementthan is presentin the final piece. In this drawing, a long vertical drop of rope has been scratchily 33Ibid., p. 16. 34 The complex issue of an artist's drawing, particularly its role in relation to three-dimensional sculpture, as the 'preparatory sketch' is one that needsfurther work. The assumptionthat a drawing is in becomes three-dimensional to, appendage of, a object or an muddied somewhat relation to the prior work of Lucas Samarasalso, whose 'warped box' drawings I discussin chapterone. Rather than being in for three dimensions, Samaras'sdrawings of boxes listing and bending realisation plans schematic are sketchy analoguesto his heavily worked, rigid boxes that he was constructing contemporaneously. Reversing the usual notion of the 'working drawing', these sketchesseemout of place, somehow,in his oeuvre. See chapter one for a comparison of Samaras'sbox drawings with those made by Eva Hesse,specifically her 'working drawings' completed after the construction of certain works that she askedMel Bochner and Sol LeWitt to help her make. This is discussedbriefly in Eva Hesse,Elisabeth Sussmanned., SanFrancisco,2002, p. 214. 35van Bruggen, op.cit., p. 109.
large knot into in the middle. This drawing clearly derives a reef coiled pencilled-in, from the sculpted section of carefully filed, planed and polished plywood that is knot in Westermann's six foot tall plywood piece, The into sinewy, elegant a shaped Big Change.
The Big Changehas beencarved from a block of laminated plywood which has been into The different levels twists and smoothed shape. and planed of meticulously plywood that are revealed bear a striking resemblanceto the weft of thickly coiled if knot, the choice of material making a as well as suggestingthe obvious most rope, grain of a cross-sectionof wood. Perhapsthe 'big change' of the title refers to that from impossibility 'tying' 'change' to the wood rope, of wood contradicted switch or 36 by the plywood's resemblanceto a thick section of rope. As well as presentingthe absurdly elegantproposition of a large piece of knotted wood, a play on the fact that knots in finds cut sections of wood, there is an anthropomorphic so-called one knotted Change. The Big 77ze thickly to coiled centre evokes a pair of element loosely folded arms, a relaxed pose echoing Westermann's pose in the photograph, for Westermann by Beatles Blake the album cover, of standing next to the cropped here by both its humanoid The the work, emphasised element of personnage work. height and placement next to the artist of course has echoes across Westermann's is in the model repeated,often with one or no assemblagelpersonnage which oeuvre, bandits, immobilised depicted, though silenced, or as end-of-the-pier one-armed arms In another work entitled Imitation Knotty Pine (111.4.18) from 1966, Westermannmade a wooden hinged box, again from laminated plywood, and stuck figures.
cut-out pictures of knots from a section of wood to the sides. Of course plywood does not have knots in it, so Westermann's gag works in two ways: playing on the fact that the knots are not real yet the wood they are adhered to is, he toys with box illusion the the to construct and reality whilst choice of plywood expectationsof 36Seechapterthree for a discussionof the ways in which Westermanndeployed polychrome materials. In relation to this, I also discussthe ways in which he usesone medium to 'stand for' another,as well as one kind of object or motif to 'stand for' another in order to expand the possibilities of meaning within a limit set of resources.
demonstratesits very un-woodlike aspect,free from visible woodgrain and especially the gnarledknots found in other woods. In Nauman's drawing, Large Knot Becomingan Ear (Knot Hearing Well), the central knot of The Big Changeis reconfigured as a length of rope, with the twisted weaveof the twine heavily marked, particularly at the bottom of the knot, as it is pulled back through the main vertical drop. Toward the top of the reef knot, however, a faint from is left-hand the evident, arching over, away side of the knot shadow of pencil into the unmistakable curvilinear outline of the auricle of an ear; curving and faintly by the marked grooves and central black hollow of the ear such anchoredas hole that melds back into the knotted rope form. Whilst identifiable at the top left of the central bunch of pencilled rope, the sketched-in ear loses some of its specificity further down. The drawing of the rope succeedsthe bodily representationof an ear, half-way down from bodily heavily the to the suggestively marked metamorphosing literal it lingers faint the that ear shape so remaindering only of rope, as materiality outline. Placed together, the pencil drawing of the ear and its three-dimensionalcounterpart Westermann's Ear move between the abstractly evocative and the figurative and literal. Closely linked to The Big Change,with the ear/knot of the drawing strongly drawing knotted look Westermann's this the sculpture centre work, and of echoing back to the recent past of Westermann'ssculpture,indelibly marking it in the present with an element of the body. This loss or substitution of body parts that occurs in Nauman's 'Westermann' homage series, where his own bodily presenceis used to stand for 'Westermann', and where a section of rope can be both a bodily part-object and lumpen knotted material appearspersistently across Nauman's homages,as we saw in his graduate school work Wax Impressions of the Knees of Five Famous Artists. Just as the switching or doubling of materials appearsas a repeatedmotif in Westermann's system of bricolage, so we see Nauman also working with the malleability of materials and forms. The question is, to what ends does he take on
Westermann's own system? Is it a form of stylistic borrowing, or 'poaching' to borrow de Certeau's term, a prime example of Nauman the post-modem heterogeneousartist par excellence,or isn't it more that this is the only way Nauman has of working out Westermann, by somehow having first of all to work through him?
A lesser known sculpture by Nauman Knot an Ear (Ill. 4.19) from 1967 renders literally the sketchy implications of Large Knot Becoming an Ear (Knot Hearing Well). A short section of thick rope has been coiled into a knot, to which wax has been moulded into an ear formation, creating a curious object out of the intersection betweenknotted rope and the curved contours of an ear. The rope remains visible at both the centre and top of the knot/ear, a switch between the sheermateriality of the body both Westermann's the the echoing of earlier The Big physicality rope and Change as well as Nauman's (and, of course, Westermann's) own confusion of is inert, Oddly this severed ear/knot an unsettling part-object which, registers. from its length body from the and cut off original of rope seemsto articulate, wrested in its most graphic form, Nauman and Wiley's earlier attemptsto 'get Westermann's Captured Westennann. in plaster and severed through contact with establishing ear' from the body, this is an uncomfortable object that sits uneasily within Nauman's body his into twisting of of casting, stretching, pulling and parts usual repertoire Here, inert, directions the to ear ends. remains and abstract almost media various fixed and deafenedin its block of hardenedplaster like the central knot of wood at the centre of The Big Change. The switch of register between the aural and the visual has been explored by historian Linda Haverty Rugg as a way of negotiating the 'textual resonances' between bilder 'word by Walter her discussion images' in the or of used photographs 37 function literary 'snapshots'. Rugg is interested in the ways in Benjamin which as from for 'listen' those typically resonances might gleaned or viewers which readers 37Linda HavertyRugg,PicturingOurselves:PhotographyandAutobiography,Chicago,1997.
Interestingly it is specifically the ear through which Rugg pursuesher point, comparing Benjamin's account of the stagedphotographstaken of visual information.
himself and his brother as young children with his description of a similarly staged Franz Kafka. In the photograph of ten the taken years earlier of young photograph Kafka, Benjamin notices his rather prominent ear that sticks out from the side of his head, as though Kafka were straining to listen to his surroundings. This is not the first time, Rugg points out, that Benjamin invoked the metaphor of the ear in his describes Benjamin his On occasion, another own historical task as though writing. having his ear pressedagainstthe shell of the nineteenthcentury. In his writing about thesetwo photographs-the one of himself and his brother and that of the young boy Kafka-Rugg points out that Benjamin conflates the two images, at the same time both historical means of the the the of visual and aural as registers confusing history. The idea 'hearing' Benjamin's kind of or ear as a of 'other' to understanding, history's narrative of course shares much with Derrida's concept of the 'otobiography' in which he, too, emphasisesthe importance of the listening ear (oto'of the ear).
Derrida claims that Nietzche's Ecce Homo is an example of an
is, is dependent, text that a as which structured, even, upon the otobiography, listening 'ear of the other'. We identify the true place of autobiography,he writes, as not under the control of the 'signer' or writer of the text, but in the 'ear of the other', 38 listens, 'other' listener to the text than the author. the the subjectwho ***
When Naumancommentedon the enigmatic quality of his work and titles in 1972,he Westermann but to to Duchamp, an often-cited influence on Nauman's referred not 39 his in 'has do interest Duchamp for ideas'. to with use of objects to stand work. His
38JacquesDerrida, 77zeEar of the Other: Otobiography, Transference,Christie V. McDonald ed., and Peggy Kamuf trans., New York, 1985. See also Derrida's foreword 'Fors' in Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, The Wolfinan's Magic Word: A Cryptonomy,Nicholas Rand trans.,Minneapolis, 1986. 39Bruce Nauman, unpublished interview with Lorraine Sciarra, as quoted in Serota, Bruce Nauman, London, 1987,op.cit, p. 11.
What he claims to sharewith Duchamp,is a common interest in language,and, more Duchamp's fondness I for bad gags, a trait suggest, with own would specifically, Westermann. Nauman Nauman both Duchamp, to and claims that he seeks common 40 language into into 'put ideas This would to the the to works-mainly put work'. suggestthat the titles selectedto anchor his object-ideas are a crucial element of his keen distance himself Nauman from that Duchampian However, to was also work. tradition, acknowledging that although the work and ideas of artists such as Jasper Johnsand Jim Dine were 'in the air' at the time, 'things like Duchamp's Green Box I didn't know about at all', in fact, one of the few sourcesof influence Nauman does 41 is Westermann. acknowledgein his work that of What intrigues Nauman more than tracking his works' genesis, however, is the disintegration of logic played out in the enigmatic objects of an artist such as Man Ray, whom he preferred to Duchamp because'there's less "tied-upness" in his work, 42 It is not so much an opacity of meaningthat is sought,but more unreasonableness'. down, be face be in to tied to the to work unreasonable, of reason,a not an ambiguity: kind of unravelling of the spiral. In theserope and body-part drawings, sketches,and disintegrating logic brings his body Nauman together the own of with the sculptures, illogical tying of a rope that comes undone, and an ear that cannot-knot-hear. Nauman's choice of titles in these works plays on the dual meaning of the word 'k/not' as both statementof negation and point of securing, a word-pun evoking not Westermann's Each but, Duchamp titles. own more specifically, of theseartists only had a fondnessfor incorporating humour into their work, whether as visual gags, or linguistic puns in the title. Depending on your reading of the title Westennann's Ear, Nauman could be jokingly language Westermann's to the of own speech and vernacular, slangy referring is is 'ere, 'here', or is not, that is, absent. that the artist objects, a pun on whether 40BruceNauman,asquotedin Livingstone,BruceNauman,1987,op.cit., p. 10. 41Ibid. 42Ibid.
However, the parentheticaltitle of the drawing Large Knot Becoming an Ear, 'Knot hearing well', fixes its meaning firmly in the realm of the ear-as-body-part. Of 'knot' 'not' its the or renders the meaning of the as of reading ambiguity course being (as hearing 'k/not or negative statement of well as either positive well' phrase knotty deaf, lump hear. is The joke). the terrible or of rope can ear either as a Deliberately confusing the two registers of inert medium and bodily function, the ear Levelling both the knot same one. and occupy out the switch positions and differences between the two, Nauman is establishing a point of equivalencebetween here facture the the the attribute and physical of ear, sculpture of the material for, 'Westermann. Reducing belonging to, or standing one to the understood as here 'his' is Nauman's, both is Westermann through ear, which of represented other, field from his bodily the through and absented of vision presence, course, as a As displacement the substitution with rope. well as connoting and metonymic Westermann's own use of rope in his work, the rope also, of course, obliquely knowledge his biography, training Westermann's and of naval specifically signifies invoking doing here, is both is Nauman What knots and also and rope-tying. various illusions in and which, materials through references, associative myriad working Nauman's case meansthat even 'Westermann' himself becomesone of those many himself Westermann takeson multiple though the as object, within meaningssecreted signifying potentialities. Other works in this group homagesby Nauman from 1967, are two charcoal on paper drawings of entwined rope shapedinto a loose knot with a pair of folded arms at the bottom, entitled respectively Square Knot (H. C. Westennann)and Untitled (Square Knot). A three-dimensionalversion was also constructedfrom rope, wax and plaster is in drawn (H. C Westermann), Untitled. In Square Knot the a rope called simply double tie, outlining a loosely formed reef knot, with the lower drop morphing into a in. hangs folded the the to square outline rope arms, crossed complete pair of Untitled (SquareKnot) follows the format of the former drawing, although insteadof looping form is loop knot to an angular presented, over of rope one continuous a reef
bottom. In in 'handle', this the of crossed arms at a pair culminating square-shaped drawing the folded arms register more obviously as 'like' the rope than in the first drawing.
Nauman is performing a metonymic substitution in these works, with the knots and integral for Westermann the an element of the sailor, twine thick standing 'Westermann' myth. These in turn come to stand 'for' Westermann's body, the hands and arms that made his meticulous hand-crafted pieces. The humour of the large, in that, lies the arms as well as signifying muscular rubbery, also piece Westermannthe artist and craftsman,also stand for Westermannthe sailor in a jokey, been by Westermann in had that played up aspect which exaggeratedway, precisely 'Popeye here the his cartoonish of via a model and mediated works, own of many Sailor Man'. Unlike his better-known body cast From Hand to Mouth (Ill. 4.20) from 1967, in body from been through the the has the mouth a side of made of cast which a in has been flesh hand, though and cast wax, peeled away to the a strip of as shoulder Nauman has moulded Untitled, the final, three-dimensionalwork in the SquareKnot from body. is directly From Hand Mouth it from to than a cast plaster rather group, fact it body, but in Nauman's from described the taken was a of side as a cast often 'Popeye' different is Judy. This the the to Nauman's from aspect of more wife, cast bottom Untitled Westermann. The 'as' the are anchor at arms which arms that stand knot features bodily. A by in firmly Nauman located the the of reef realm plaster, left bonded: in taut over right and right over this and closely pulled version, again left, a double-binding knot ensuring the piece remains as tightly knit and enclosedas has been described it. This as a' that work anchor the wax-sealed plaster arms 43 figurative Jane in implication'. design "closed system," circular in physical and
43Livingstone, Bruce Nauman,op.cit., p. 14.
Livingstone has understoodthe crossedarms as articulating 'a negation of the hand of 44 deliberate, the artist,' a self-imposedparalysis. However, this is no straightforward negation. By constricting the arms in a folded Although directly from his own body, the tied-up. they all not cast are position, representationof a male pair of arms does suggestNauman is implicated in the piece, be fully Nauman from image. Instead what has the that therefore, cannot erased and, happened is that Westermann now takes centre stage 'as' Nauman's own body. Another twist in this complex homageis that, by dropping both the title SquareKnot (H. C. from Westermann) final title the the piece, which is now parenthetical and both implicit Westermann Untitled, (the knot) the to reference and simply called have been him (his to name) excised. In this object, and the two explicit reference drawings in which the name 'Square Knot' and Westermann'sname are toyed with, Nauman has encryptedWestermannwithin the work, secretedhim within the finished untitled piece. By losing the explicit identification of the work with Westermann,Nauman createsa Westermann for just is that matter, that as or, as enigmatic any object either work Man Ray made. When describing the reference to the now-excised parenthetical heading (H. C.Westermann) in Untitled, Nauman said he was referring to Westermann's work 'Square Knot, although the piece he was actually describing Westermann's Nauman It Change. Big The that confused seems own work with was that of his own through this slip of the tongue, which reveals layers of this homage that find Westermann so impacted within the piece Nauman cannot dislodge him. Whilst it is not explicit as a homage,the visual signs enact the operation of homage. The folded armsin Untitled that have no fixed 'owner', indicate that there is a curious Westermann is here Nauman taking though place, as standing one of with conflation for the other. Westermann's haunting of Nauman's work is enacted through the body, functions kind Nauman's which now as a of ventriloquist's embodiment of 44Ibid.
'speak'. Westermann Knotting, through may whom as a way of holding puppet together and strengthening,in both Square Knot and Westermann'sEar, becomes disabling device, like that restricts, not secures;isolates, rather or a gagging more than joins together. Binding is understoodin this instanceas a forrn of concealing or secreting,a strategywhich is also used to great effect in Nauman's seriesof homages to Henry Moore, which demonstratea body captured and bound, or spirit trapped. I will return to theseshortly. In another set of homage works of sorts, Nauman also employed that strategy of binding. Originally posted to his friend and ex-tutor William Allan, with whom Nauman had collaborated on a number of film works, Letter to Bill Allan: 77tree Well-Known Knots (Square Knot, Bowline, and Clove Hitch) (Ill. 4.21) from 1967, Nauman binding his torso in three three photographs of of consists of a series different types of knot. Thesephotographsare both a nod to the pseudo-instructional for (1966) Asian Carp Fishing films as their as well as Nauman's own tone of such knot-tying skills which were a leftover from his Boy Scout days. These photos are Coosje Nauman Bruggen's book both in the catalogue raisorind and van understood joke' homage 'in humorous Allan, but instead to Nauman or as a as referring not on 45 homages Moore. familiar Allan himself also made a to to his other, more seriesof Westermann, including implicitly his to that refer another of short of works number films titled Untying the Knots in the Reel, another quotation of the knot, this time, interestingly, mediated through the work of Nauman. A large painting by Allan, depicting a pair of empty boots and jeans that are silhouetted against a Shadow Repairfor Western Man is, John Fitz titled the claims critic mountainscape, 46 homage Westermann. Gibbon, anotherpreviously unacknowledged to One reason why these three photos for Allan are always looked at in relation to the homages to Henry Moore is because in the same session (and wearing the same 45Seevan Bruggen, op.cit, and Benezraet al. Bruce Nauman,op.cit. 46John Fitz Gibbon, as quoted in H. C. Westermann:WEST,op.cit., p. 63.
himself bound in he Nauman took of up a photograph rope, which called outfit) Bound to Fail (111.4.22),which sharesthe title with Nauman's Henry Moore Bound to Fail series of casts, and which also takes the form of a drawing by Moore from 1942 featuring an object bound-up in rope. What all of thesephotos share,however, is the way in which the body is bound up and tied, immobilised or 'silenced' in a way similar to the crossedrope/arms of the Square Knot works. These photographsalso homages Westermann the a preoccupationwith the severanceof the body, sharewith face, do Nauman's We his in torso, clad in see only not part of parts. only presented knit sweater. chunky a BecauseNaumancompletedhis seriesof homagesto Westermannand Moore straight it is look from tempting to school, at them in terms of their being art after graduating difference, Nauman 'working that of through' establishing means or so might a 'discover' his own way of working. With Westermannthis may seemplausible even, homage Westen-nann, Nauman's less he to Moore to an artist so. whom with 'listened' intently, inherited in part from his tutor and friend Wiley, as well as several demonstrates immediate his the critical problems and peer group, of other members high esteem his work held amongst this younger generation, whose works 47 What could Henry Moore mean to a young Californian artist haunts. Westermann in 1966? Moore stood for a kind of sculpturethat was too over-blown and grandiose to the new generation of modem sculptors, although, as Anne Wagner has pointed fame in height his 1966, American Moore the the year Nauman at was of out, honorary in New York, doctorates and commissions public with awarded graduated, him at Yale University (he had already received one from Harvard in 1958) and at the University of Chicago one year later, in 1967. With the death of David Smith in 1965, Wagner asks, 'what other sculptor could have been cast in the father figure's 47The centrality of Westermann'swork to other less mainstreamartists, particularly thoseon the West his From be precarious grouping with the younger generationof underestimated. coast should not Chicago artists, the 'Chicago Imagists' and the 'Hairy Who' group, such as Jim Knutt, etc., his presencehas been felt and recognisedwithin the art community since he first began exhibiting in the late fifties. Amongst Nauman's contemporaries,Westermann was admired as a practioner, and is loyal fiercely and committed personand artist. as a responsible, personally remembered
48 large, Moore's figures, And, Moore? than carved matemal although role' have been form to truth to must materials an anathemato the new and commitment he in Smith the obvious contender as was most main player what after sculptors, 49 drama' inheritance 'Oedipal describes Wagner of sculptural and continuation. as an Nauman's generation reduced the monumental to the contingent and ephemeral, in from the the to their sculptural objects universal everyday the emphasis shifting Moore for. I think, however, be that the stood to all of opposite that would seem Nauman's engagementwith Moore was not simply to ridicule, or opposehim, nor do I think Nauman's response is related to an Oedipal battle that demands he must him. Rather, is the Moore, totally negate situation more complex or compete with is is how Nauman Wagner As what remarkable out, managesto points that. than 'subjects 'apparently Moore's or qualities' whilst of proposing any avoid employing "the artist" quite directly' in this series of works, as though Moore is no longer 50 He is 'using Moore' at the sametime he arrives at a new sculptural idiom needed. that doesnot needhim. I do not want to propose these homagesto Moore and Westermannas opposites,as though Nauman were trying to steer a course between Westermann the cultish dadaesquecarpenter and Moore the old-fashioned dinosaur steepedin a humanist demonstrates homages Moore that the seeminggulf An the tradition. examination of betweenWestermann'sand Moore's practices is not so neatly distinct, nor as clearly first imagine. Although hand the theseworks are on at one might we oppositional as humour idiosyncratic irreverent Nauman's take on the stableorder and an example of here. Nauman is, I at stake there more was already an something things, argue, of he had his first by He time the graduated. solo artist accomplished and eclectic leaving in 1968 (in both his few college, which after a years exhibition only 48Anne M. Wagner, 'Henry Moore's Mother', Representations,no. 65, Winter 1999,pp. 93-120, p. 93. 49Ibid., p. 94. 50Ibid.
Westermann Moore he friends homages to were shown), and and was sculptural with someof the leading contemporaryCalifornian artists. The two setsof works Nauman made 'in the name of' Westermannand Moore both arrive at their subjects through Nauman 'gets Westermann to' through Man Ray and, later, a oblique means. photograph of Westermannstanding next to his The Big Change, whilst he arrives at Moore, not through his large-scale monumental public sculptures, as we might drawings, Nauman Moore's his but through which engaged with via expect, own lesser-knownskills as draughtsman. The works in the seriesof homagesto Henry Moore are Nauman's study for Henry Moore Trap, (El. 4.23) his SeatedStorage Capsule (for H.M. ) (Ill. 4.24) and Seated Storage Capsulefor H.M. Made of Metallic Plastic, (Ill. 4.25) the Henry Moore Bound to Fail seriesof wax and cast iron sculptures,sketchesand photographs,and his Light Trap for Henry Moore I and 2 (111.4.26)alongside one of Moore's own drawings, his enigmatic Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object (Ill. 4.27), from 1942. This drawing by Moore is one of his better-known works on paper, which appears his famous 'shelter drawings' Londoners series of alongside of of place out oddly he in tube the stations, produced whilst was an official war artist under the sleeping War Artists Advisory Commission. Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object is, in fact, more in tune with Moore's sculptural interests of the thirties, when he became involved with a surreal mode of working that, in this instance, spirals back to the concernsof Nauman and Wiley and their fascination with Man Ray's tied-up object. Crowd Looking at a Tied-Up Object features, as the title states, a large, wrapped has below. bound the attention of which caught a crowd of people with rope, object, The contents of the tied-up object are not revealed, which, whilst inserting this drawing exactly into the wider context of the thematic of this thesis, points also to another, interesting aspectof Moore's practice as it caught Nauman's attention here. What Nauman taps into, through this drawing by Moore, is a rather more 'private' languageat work than is typically associatedwith Moore the 'public' sculptor. It is
the 'private' language, or enigma of this wrapped secret object that Wiley and Nauman also identified in Man Ray, and because of which they contacted Westermann. It may be this recognition of a 'private', or secret language which both Moore Westermann to the of and status at this time as somehow shared points out of place in the contemporarysculptural scene,although Westermann's position is rather more marginal than the position of mere out-dated retrograde that Moore was it initially Whilst appearsas though the two artists are placed at opposite attributed. Westermann, Nauman Moore (whether and or and Moore), the two ends of a gulf, Instead being closely entwined. of standing at either end of a more rather end up Westermann Moore figures divide, the and of are in fact used by Nauman sculptural to explore similar themes. Both Moore and Westermann 'stand for' something in Nauman's work, and it is that 'something' I am keen to uncover here. Nauman wry explanation for his reference to Moore was that younger artists should be less dismissive of Moore's practice. Nauman claimed they 'shouldn't be so hard 51 him'. In CoosJe to because him, they're conversation need going with van on Bruggen, Nauman elaboratedon this, saying 'I figured the younger sculptors would 52 for idea day, I him the a storagecapsule'. Nauman may so cameup with some need have beenjoking but there is a seriouspoint here, witnessedby the growing interest in Moore's work by writers such as Wagner. The point is, at this time, Moore was field, kilter the sculptural contemporary with and no self-respecting of simply out in Moore's practice that they associatedwith their anything sculptor would recognise 53 his Moore Of the to at centre of work at this time was a classic place course, own. 51Bruce Nauman, as quoted in WilIougby Sharp, 'Two Interviews', [19701, reprinted in Robert C. Morgan ed., Art and Performance:Bruce Nauman,Baltimore and London, 2002, p. 246. 52Bruce Nauman,as quoted in van Bruggen, op.cit., p. 110. 53Wagner writes that Nauman was right in 'his assertionthat Moore's idea of the sculpted body, if it was worth negating, might also be worth exhurning again someday, right too in his oblique suggestion that bodily uncanninessis somehowat stake. This essayassumesthat the time has come'. (p. 94) In a footnote, Wagner draws our attention to an interview that took place between Dan Graham and his interviewers Ronald Alley and Richard Morphet in London, October 1974, Tate Gallery Archives. Responding to a question about Nauman's influence on his own work, Graham responded, 'I mean Nauman, Nauman was influenced by Henry Moore, if you can believe that, and he saysHenry Moore is going to come back [ ] Oh it's very very Nauman's very humorous and he put that out because ... ...
Nauman manoeuvre, to turn the situation on its head and suddenly make Henry Moore the subject of his own practice is a typically subversivegesture. The humour in the situation, his claiming that artists may well need Moore in the future, finds its visual counterpart in Nauman's surreal, faintly disturbing sketchesof seated,bound figures, veiled in a shroud of pencil or crayon lines, a pasticheof Moore's own heavy 'section-line' drawing which is seen clearly in his shelter drawings.54 In certain of Nauman's drawings, the swooping lines which encircle the concealed form within, have 'hardened' into what Nauman describes in one title as a 'metallic plastic be for future, the to saved capsule preservedin the presentin case capsule', a storage its contents(Moore?) might be 'useful' later on. Nauman's 'light trap' series of photographs from 1967 lend this suggestion a futuristic elementof magical transformation. To make these,he drew in the air with a torch, capturing the image on film as though picturing the ghostly presenceof Moore. When Nauman made his Light Trap photographs, they were intended as part of a larger project that also included William T. Wiley or Ray Johnson Trap, and which Light Trapfor Henry Moore initially No.1 and Light Trapfor as neons. planned were Henry Moore No. 2 are large prints that required Nauman make an extra-large developing tray for them. Drawing in the air with a flashlight, Nauman threw a huge light spiral line into the air which, caught on film, are a dazzling counterpart to the bound Trapfor figures. Henry Light Moore No. 2 is similar outlining sketches pencil to Light Trap for Henry Moore No. 1, although the light outlines a much tighter space, with the spirals of light drawn much closer together. Again resembling a figurein modemsculptureas far as Americans Mooremayhavebeenthe mostdegraded were ' (Wagner, pointof reference. op.cit.,p. 115,footnote2.) Wagner's concerned, asa humorous article, of hismotherin hisworks,is partof a largerprojectonBritishsculpture aboutMoore'sdepiction and herarticlewithNauman's thatsheis currentlyworkingon. Opening thematemal worksaboutMoore, and his claimsthat Moore'stime will come,Wagnerdecidesto takeNaumanat his word,to from thatthetimehascometo finallyreturnto Moore,andseewhatcanbe 'salvaged' acknowledge hissculptural (p.94). practice 54Nauman hisconnection to Moorein termsof theirdrawingstrategies, recognised whenheclaimed helikedthe'heavy-handed' aspect of Moore'sdrawing.Hestated,'I likedthataboutthosedrawings, havealwaysbeenlikethat-I've always thathealwayshadto struggle to getthemright. My drawings hadto beatthemintoshapeasmuchasanythingelse'. Nauman asquotedin vanBruggen, op.cit.,p. ill.
figure drawn in light, this image appears as though a supernatural light is emitted, suggestive of a 'spirit' or some kind of trapped after-effect. Due to the size of these images, however, they could not satisfactorily
submerged in the
developing trays, and so Nauman and his assistant instead set about smearing and hand, by the the over paper solution a neat inversion of the supposedly spreading transcendental aspect the images seemingly lay claims to. These photographs engage idea that a spirit can be 'trapped' on film, as well as the magical ridiculous, with marking a complicated temporal adjustment to the typical notion of the homage, as 55 Westermann, in like Moore, 1967. still of course
very much alive
In a gesturereferencing Westermann'suse of bad gags and humour in his titles and Fail Bound Nauman's to works operateon a number of levels, (including sculptures, that of the bad gag) and it is through these, Nauman's best-known 'homage' works, that his strategyis most overtly staged. A charcoal sketch of the sculpture Bound to Fail from 1966 shows the rear view of a figure, with arms tied behind the back by a double length of rope. In the cast-iron version of this from the following year, of Nauman he series of nine editions, a pressedone of his own sweaters made which into a mould, completewith the loosely-boundrope, in order to createthe impression, quite literally, of a trapped figure (Ill. 4.28) . Nauman also cast this work in wax, perhapsa nod to the antiformal tendenciesof sixties sculpture, bringing together in the samework, and in the 'name of' Moore, the more traditional method of casting in metal, with the processof casting in wax, a medium rediscoveredduring the sixties as final to the cast object in, rather than as an intermediary material to cast something something elsefrom. In this cast, unlike the muscular folded arms of 'Westermann' in Untitled, the body is not represented,instead only the folds of the sweater and weave of the rope are visible. Whilst in Untitled the arms are folded in front, as though a defensiveor controlled pose, with the muscularforearms and relaxed grip of 55Interestingly, one year later in 1967,Dan Flavin also usedlight in his Untitled (Homage to V. Tatlin). Using industrial fluorescentlight tubesmounteddirectly onto the wall in a pyramid of strips echoing the form of Tatlin's Monumentto the 7hird International from 1920, itself a homage dedicatedto previous revolutionary monumentalpractice.
the handsclearly identifiable, Bound to Fail instead seemsto reverse that pose, with the limp suggestionof arms tied behind the figures' back, in a gesture of futility or entrapment. Between Untitled and Bound to Fail, Nauman appearsto be staging the disjuncture, as he sees it, between these two artists' practices, mediated via his own staged Nauman doing is bring in to the two what ends up although work; each presence By the two that through very staging of as somehow together, worlds apart. closer implicating himself within this scenario, Nauman ends up, ultimately, all tied-up. What seemsto be going on here, is less Nauman working through Moore, or for that looking Nauman Moore Westermann but (via Westermann, through at rather, matter Man Ray). This characteristically opaque series of connections throws up rather been intended. What have Nauman is than may ends up with a more similarities is, figure 'Henry to the the solve-which problem enigma of conundrum-another Moore' poses to sculptural practice, a problem that persists, locked into a storage date. Nauman later As 'Henry be the through a claimed, to at name worked capsule Moore' could be dropped from the piece, and it would still work just as well. The his is Nauman's Moore this is, now, not serves purpose about specific although point but Moore, the rather an exploration of the mechanicsof of work engagementwith For in instance inheritance, this as a strategy, not genealogy. now, staged sculptural fail. bound He is instead is, Moore's to simply, practice any engagementwith Nauman later for generations who may, as said, on, and passed a problem up wrapped 'need him', for a time when, as Wagner writes, 'Moore's main themesneedno longer 56 in be kept quarantine'. These homages draw attention to the unlikely sequencesand connections that determine, in another context, the non-linear, non-developmentalhaunting presence 'conceptual 'transgenerational Abraham's as a possibility' that provides phantom', of for links, 'prescriptive than to through a rather model establish the means which 56Wagner,op.cit., p. 96.
interpretation' that explains (away) what those links are 57 Rather than staging an . Oedipal battle betweenfathers and sons,in these works, Nauman could be seenrather as self-consciouslyreflecting on the strategy of the transgenerationalphantom. The homages Moore Westermann is to that the and not point are opposite, but that, for all their differences,they ultimately end up performing the samestrategy. ***
In 1987, twenty years after Nauman's homages to Moore and Westermann (and Wiley and Johnson and Allan and, of course Man Ray), and the same year as Nauman's retrospective show at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, British artist Rachel Whiteread began to make her plaster and resin casts of everyday objects, specifically the 'spaces' underneath, around or between objects, creating casts of had Nauman done between just 1966 and 1968 in his work entitled as negative space, A Cast of the Space Under My Chair (Ill. 4.29). It is not, however, Whiteread's already well-documentedcastingsof absentspace,such as Wardrobe from 1987, that I want to focus on here,but rather a moment just prior to theseobjects, a small group in 1986. During this year, whilst still at art school, Whiteread made a made of works her casts of own body, specifically, of her back and of her ear. seriesof plaster It is these works that tell us much more about Whiteread's often commented-on connection to Nauman than those more obvious homagessuch as Table and Chair (Clear) from 1994 (Ill. 4.30) in which she cast the negative space underneath household furniture. In both Nauman and Whiteread's early stagesas artists, whilst later the their school, seeds of art work were already set in place. Understood at still only retrospectively, it is interesting to note that both Nauman's early homageseries, initiated whilst still at art school and Whiteread's body casts, also made whilst a in student, which she makes castsof presentnot absentspaces,sharean engagement
57EstherRashkin, Family Secretsand the Psychoanalysisof Narrative, Princeton, 1992p. 157.
with the ear, both literally and metaphorically, as each begins to develop their own interests,through listening to the voices and influence of others. The idea of homage features in both these artists' work, although Whiteread's connection to Nauman and Minimalism
is more often acknowledged that Nauman's
lesser-known set of homage works about Westermann. As van Bruggen put it, 'faIrt for him. is kind this unusual about art of
He prefers to pace his own studio rather 58 than follow in the footstepsof other artists'. I am not claiming that Whiteread is
but the of other artists, rather, that the often-cited influence work on more reliant Nauman by both Minimalism her the artist and fairly and are accepted work of upon does identifiable, she of course, something very different with although consistently each. To make Ear, (111.4.31)Whiteread coated her left ear with plaster, a messy process face, her back down her the the left side of around trail that of plaster neck and of a body imprint From left her in the this the a cast negative of ear was shoulder. onto hot liquid into hardened Whiteread Jump of plaster, this wax poured soft plaster. filling the void in order to make a positive cast, a roughly moulded, yet nevertheless Nauman is Wax for Knot an Ear, itself identifiable the also material used ear. clearly both is the the ear secretesand is filled with. Rather stuff which also a pun, as wax than a cast of the 'negative space' of the ear, this is a clear demarcationof the ear in holes. Had folds, Whiteread chosento cast the negative spaceof its and contours all her ear, the result would have been a thin, spindly spiral of wax, suggestedhere only through its absence. The photographof Ear depicts the lone ear resting on the floor, as though a fossil or a has been The taken on a sunny day, at a moment the photo shore. on shell washedup frame the through window the rectangular of the studio, casting a sun streams when bathing it in image, the strong contrasting light, and fixing the grid of shadow over 58van Bruggen, op.cit., p. III-
its logic the grid at of odds with own winding, spiral form. Recalling a ear within Smithson's description of Spiral Jetty, that other 'ear' trapped within a languageof irrationality that causesa momentary swaying of one's fixed subject position, this logic linear it is breaks the the of grid photographed against. From the cast ear in Whiteread's final to the the ear coated plaster, of one where cast has photograph been made, Whiteread's casting process is tracked, as it has gone through both a Of is implied in the other, as the the course, stage. one always and positive negative bodily cast of an ear necessarilyimplies the processof negative casting that has been labyrinthine inside the the true the space of ear, spiral tunnel through made, whilst is lost, and echoes, or silenced. reverberates sound which Both Nauman and Whiteread made works that involved separatingthe ear from the body. The difference in their works however, is that, in Whiteread's case, she image, damage has been staged,the that suggesting a scene of presentsan unsettling In Ear, implied from the the the case of act. severance a violent of aftermath in Whiteread image of results an at once oddly material and embodied presence language in within a of absence which the missing body is entrenched yet present, keenly felt. In a way similar to the spareparts that Nauman also moulded and cast, Whiteread's Ear is rather more disconcerting in the kinds of violence it seemsto installation Nauman's from For 1968 an of work example, shot at the Leo stage. Castelli Gallery (Ill. 4.32), which shows a number of his works such as Henry Moore Bound to Fail and the rope and cross-armedWestermannpiece Untitled hung on the body has been described by a set as what of parts reads rather resembling whilst wall, Briony Fer as a metonymic chain of loose articulations from which the body has 59 slipped, as opposedto the aftermathof an aggressiveact. Describing her move from casting her own body parts to making casts of negative her interest is 'to do Whiteread that work and with absence not explains space,
59BrionyFer, 'TheCaptiveImagination',unpublished paper.
60 She ceaseddeveloping the 'direct relationship' of casting her own body presenceg. in 1987, when she chose instead a less 'direct' encounter,where the sculptures 'refer being for bodies' designed than our rather actual casts of those that to objects we've 61 body. her What is lost in the move from bodies or, more specifically, own in is Whiteread's then, these to objects, own positive, absence articulating presence her it is body I And this that aspect of early casts want to embodied presence. from in body happens What the the here. the casting move actual space of emphasise in from its the implied other words, shift casting positive to presence, to the place of does Whiteread's from her in In these excision ways work what negative space? in homage in Nauman? her to the the implicate relation work of practice own casts What was at stakein Whiteread's loss of bodily presencein her own casts? Between 1986 and 1987,Whiteread fashioneda plaster cast of her back into a shovel, Untitled (Shovel)conflating the everyday utilitarian nature of domestic tools with her body (Ill. 4.33). Evoking Duchamp's In Advance of the Broken Arm (111.4.34), Westermann'sDust Pan series(111.4.35),in which he carvedpersonalisedhandlesfor Nauman's Henry Moore Bound Fail dust iron to course, and, of pans, a number of breaking (the deploying titles three use of punning notion of artists' all pieces, and labour back such as shovelling), a compelling physical when performing one's trajectory is traced in which a legacy of inheritance and influence, of Duchamp by Man Ray, Nauman by Westermann way of as through who was adopted homage for in be by Whiteread, the provides means which can charted renegotiated later artists' working-through. It is not, however, the cast of Whiteread's back that I from 1986; but here, the plaster cast shemade isolate also to anotherpart-object, want 'ear' in Nauman's fragment bodily the left her that use of echoes unwittingly ear, a of his homagesto Westermann, specifically the small work Knot an Ear, and which debate the to within this chapter around notions of widening way might go some
60Rachel Whiteread, in 'Rachel Whiteread interviewed by Andrea Rose, March 1997', in Rachel Whiteread. British Pavilion XLVII, VeniceBiennale 1997,London, 1997,p. 34. 61Ibid.
influence and homageto incorporate a wider scope, both generational and formal, of sculptural practice since the sixties. Rather than exploring notions of absence,I want to ask how one artist might be 'found' in the work of another, as a persistent, haunting presence. This history of Duchamp through Westermann to Whiteread needs complicating, for it is not a is linear temporal that the issue here, but a or merely genealogy consciously plotted inheritance influence that unconsciously repeats, returns and and strategy of incorporates,as one artist listens for the echo, or closes their ears, to another artistic listening for Whether their voice, the one's predecessor, or silencing generation. I here haunting is to trajectory want map one that traces a spiralling, of phantomatic is, finds its that which echoes, and contour, a embodiment, in contour: straight, not the outline of the ear. ***
When Benjamin Buchloh described Rachel Whiteread as an 'epigone' in his account beginning demise the of the twenty-first the at of sculpture of Minimalism's inheritance the to of pretender
century, as mere
throne, he unwittingly
brought to the
fore those issues of influence and haunting under examination here. Buchloh's claim is that by returning to recent historical sculptural models such as Minimalism. and imbuing
Whiteread Kiki and as such artists contemporary
Smith eradicate the original
be it in the the the case of that emancipation of whether viewer model, of radicality implications the of post-Minimal, Process and 'nonsocio-political or 62 These artists have, Buchloh writes, 'emptied' their predecessors site' works of art. 63 It is Whiteread Buchloh's Smith have that claim and not original successes. Minimalism,
62BenjaminH.D. Buchloh,'DetritusandDecrepitude: The Sculptureof ThomasHirschhorn',Oxford An Journal,vol. 24, no.2,2002,pp.41-56,p. 44. 63Ibid., p. 44 In his article on Thomas Hirshhom, Buchloh examinesthe way Hirshhom succeedsin display through traps and the use of detritus and throw-away of alternative sites such avoiding
reducedthe sculptural project of Hesse,Serra, Smithson et al, to 'radical neutrality' that concerns me here, but his claim that they perform mere repetition of earlier generations' work. What are the consequencesof that process of emptying out? Who, or what, returns to fill the remaindered space or vacuum? The return or persistenceof those earlier models needsrecasting,as the resurfacing of prior models, however renegotiated, involves more than merely a replaying of its main themes. Rather, it engendersan ambivalent situation of influence and continuation that is 64 fraught with uneaseand anxiety. necessarily The 'anxiety of influence' is literary critic Harold Bloom's term for a specific kind of Originating in Bloom's work, that generations of poets. younger plagues anxiety 'anxiety influence' finds its expressionin the Shakespeare, the the of writing of with incorporate followers later or assimilate the precursor's lessons,how or poets way 65 beyond interpret their through they way and and negotiate earlier works. This is consumergoods. He ultimately seeksto both demonstrateand, with his temporary,worthless works or installations, to work through the 'universal condition of the commodity'. Indeed, to an extent Hirshhorn's work is both inflected with and avoids its own commodification. Buchloh's claim that the epigone-like work of artists such as Whiteread and Smith is a result of the emptying out of the once radical, politically emancipatory aspect of their predecessorssuch as Hesse, Serra and Smithson, whose 'Post-minimal' or Process works of art sought to 'transcend all forms of pre-established conventions, stylistic morphologies, and aesthetic norms in the pure and spontaneouspractice of embodiedperception', Ibid., p. 43-44. See chapter three for a comparison betweenBuchloh's use of the term 'bricolage' in relation to installation works and my deployment of the concept in connection with the work of H.C. Westermann. 64In his article 'The Primary Colors for the SecondTime: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-AvantGarde', October, no. 37, Summer 1986, pp. 41-52, Buchloh describes the model of repetition that occurs betweenthe historical avant-garde,Peter Burger's term for the so-called 'genuine' avant-garde artists working in the period 1910-1925 and the neo-avant-gardeor post-war artists. The historical avant-gardesought to criticise the concept of autonomy, whilst the neo-avant-gardemanagedonly to institutionalise the avant-garde 'as art', in terms of the Freudian understanding of repetition as disavowal and repression. In this article the notion of originality is put under pressure,and issuesof is in Buchloh far to that, previous a claims, or return models understood more nuanced way repetition 'cannot be discussedin terms of influence, imitation, and authenticity alone'. p. 43 1 do not want to claim only a lineage informed by conscious repetition of previous models of working either. The model of inheritance and influence I am outlining in this chapter sharesBuchloh's scepticism about originary moments of modernist artistic practice, although I want to push further the psychoanalytic implications of that model of return that Buchloh refers to. His claim that Whiteread and Smith are 'retrograde' epigones;clearly stemsfrom his earlier position in relation to the relative radicality of the neo-avant-gardeand the avant-garde. 65In his book The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry, op.cit., Harold Bloom cites the different ways in which later generationsstruggle to negotiate their way into new and original ways of writing
achieved through a variety of revisionary strategies, one of which Bloom calls 'kenosis',
out of one's predecessor, a kind of
deflationary practice allowing the later poet to distance themselves in a movement toward discontinuity with the precursor, what we might think about in terms of a traumatic separation. The strategy of kenosis shares much with Buchloh's account of Whiteread and Smith's work. 66 Bloom claims the cause of the 'anxiety of influence' is the 'poetic father', or 'voice of the other'. 67 This voice, Bloom states 'cannot die because already it has survived death-the
dead poet lives in one', 68a kind of 'family
here I in that am reformulating romance' relation to the series of connections, or triangulations of artists that instead speak more of a 'family secret', in Abraham and Torok's terminology, of inheritence. Bloom's evocation of the return of the dead is an interestingly
nuanced counter to Buchloh's
model of epigones recuperating
previous strategies, and finds its psychoanalytic analogue in Nicolas Abraham's 69 the
since Shakespeare,the origin of the 'anxiety of influence' and yardstick against which all who come after are judged. Although flawed in many ways, Bloom's account is a brilliant piece of transgenerationalresearchin which he outlines six possible ways in which later 'strong poets' perform poetic misreadings of their precursors, as a means of dealing with the anxiety of influence they necessarilyinherit. The six 'revisionary ratios', or methods of misreading are as follows: Clinamen, misreading properly, to 'swerve' away from the precursor as a corrective manoeuvre,at the point the precursor should have done themselves; Tessera,to complete the 'parent poem' from fragments, as though completing a project/poem only half-finished; Kenosis, a 'breaking-device' that involves a break or movementtoward discontinuity with the precursor,so that they are 'emptied out' of the poem; Daemonization;where the later poet openshim or herself to a 'power' in the parent-poemnot actually there in the first instance. This is a meansof generalisingaway the uniquenessof the original poem by distancing itself slightly from its original intent or 'power'; Askesis, a movement of 'self-purgation', unlike the revisionary movement of emptying that occurs in kenosis,the later poet insteadcuts him or herself off entirely from all others, including the precursor, a point of truncation, or curtailing; Apophrades,or return of the dead. At a moment in their later career,the poet openshis poem totally to the precursor,so that it appearsto have almost been written by the precursor,as it returns so closely to their own, earlier, work, so 'we might believe the wheel has come full circle'. It has the uncanny effect of seemingto have been written by the precursor themselves. pp. 14-15. Seechapters 1-6 for fuller accountsof the six revisionary ratios. 66See footnote 54, above, for an outline of this revisonary strategy of 'emptying', what Bloom terms kenosis,an uncannyprocedureof 'repetition and discontinuity', Ibid., p. 77-93. 67Harold Bloom, A Map ofMisreading, 68Ibid.
New York and Oxford, 1975, p. 19.
69Although originally theorised by Nicolas Abraham, the concept the transgenerational of phantom was also taken up by Maria Torok, who continuesto pursue the implications of that model today.
When Bloom outlines the anxiety of the later poet who must return to the precursorin do battle to and with them, he invokes the concept of the family reveal order Oedipal fundamentally process of overcoming one's father in order to romance, a develop and move on. Bloom describesthe processof returning to one's precursoras a poetic act of misreading, or misprision, meaning to swerve away. The point of a strong poetic reading is to perform this swerve away, or 'clinamen' at the point the done. have What Bloom and Abraham's account share is the precursor should importanceplaced on the listener, the critic or analyst who must learn to listen for the in later to the the order make proper sense of precursor poet. Bloom's task voice of in Abraham finds listening and Torok's own project, which they liken to echoes of the task of listening to poetry, asking, 'Do analysts have an ear for all "poems" and 70 Rather than 'wrestling with the dead', Bloom envisagescritics as for all "poets"T . 6morenearly necromancers,straining to hear the dead rising', 71a 'straining to hear' that, for Abraham and Torok, is subject always to potential failure, resulting in 72 'the haunting deficiency'. This the as phantoms of analyst's returning analysands figure formal in inert Westermann's 1961 finds its the realisation oddly work of point Hard of Hearing Object (111.4.36)comprising the full set of 'Westermann' motifs: a box, a metal megaphone-shapethat amplifies nothing, a blocked off, inaccessible house,shut-off pipes, metal bolts and a base. These intractable objects or shapesare mounted on the base as though a declaration, or statementthat in fact declares,or reveals, nothing. It is hard to 'get', or, in the aural register Westermann,and myself hard it is invoking, to 'hear'. are It is not a case of their being simply epigones of past practices that persists in the work of Nauman and Whiteread; if it were, they would not be such compelling and interesting artists. They must not be understoodas mere followers. These artists have
70Abraham and Torok, ' "The Lost Object-Me": Notes on Endocryptic Identification', in op.cit., p. 139. 71Bloom, TheAnxiety of Influence, op.cit., p. 65. 72Abraham and Torok, ' "The Lost Object-Me": Notes on Endocryptic Identification', in op.cit., p. 139.
full circle to an earlier moment of artistic practice, to a prior not simply returned have but performed, unwittingly or not, a detoumement, to use the problem, Situationist tenn, that gives the work its specificity and imbues the homagewith such authority. Once again, it is the trajectory of the spiral, that spins out and away from a fixed point, rather than the circle which returns and repeatsendlessly, that offers the most useful meansof articulating this situation. Recent writers have compelling argued that the history of Modernism is one shot through with instancesof return, repetition, blind spots and rupture, what I described in introduction 'phantoms' Modernism's the to this thesis. The phantom, as as Abraham writes, 'gives rise to endless repetition and, more often than not, eludes rationalization', a seemingly apt description of many avant-gardepractices of the 73 My claim, however, is not to merely designate seemingly twentieth century. Westermann Modernism's Rather, such as as artists phantoms. what the anomalous for is a tentative systernatisationof that moment of sculptural allows effect phantom in production the sixties which puts pressureon the standardnarratives,emphasising the role of secrecy and return as explanations for, if not answersto, those gaps and breaks that such narratives necessarily reveal.
Rather than the phantom being
somethingthat explains (away) discrepancies,it seemsto insteaddescribea problem, both in psychic life, and in sculptural practice, as the inheritance or acknowledgment of another seemsto necessarilyimpinge upon one's own practice even at the cost, as we have seenwith homageworks of Westermann,of the artists' own subjectivity. The phantom stands for a secret trauma or situation unwittingly inherited from figure, becomes lodged in the subject as though a crypt that parental usually another, functioning their then as a blockage or impenetrable kernel. unconscious, within Harboured within the subject, this phantom is only revealed in those breaks, gaps, discontinuities and 'cuts' in the subject's discourse. Inhabited by the phantom of another,a generationaldelay comesto the fore, in which the buried secretcan only be 73Abraham, 'Notes on the Phantom', in lbid, p. 189.
'cuts' later These that sever the traditional stage. generational at a articulated inheritance demand lineage tradition of and an alternative model of patriarchal interaction and understandingin which we must learn 'to listen for the voices of one 74 The is in in this the of another'. phantom not understood unconscious generation for has been repressedis not in the that terms a return of of repressed, which context known to the hauntedsubject, they carry only the secret of that trauma. Instead,the 75 'like a strangerwithin the subject's own topography'. phantomeffect is rather Although deliberately engaging with the work of Westermannin his homage works, the way in which Westermann 'haunted' his work was not wholly accountedfor by Nauman, specifically in terms of the loss of Nauman himself from the piece that Westermann's presencedemanded. Rather than make his 'Westermann' works 'in the name of' Westermann, Westermann instead figured in the work at the places Nauman sought to put himself, using his own body. Similarly in the work of Whiteread we see the humorous casts of spacesby Nauman and spare,empty boxes beds, both into instead tables, the Minimalism turned of morgue wardrobes: work of Nauman and Minimalism and, I argue,also Westermann,returns awry in Whiteread's different in Played a register, the reinvestment of those spaces as out work. fundamentally haunted, phantomatic sites demonstratesthat, impacted within these be Whiteread an alternative, secretworld of sculptural might contemporaryworks of be in Westermann delay borne through can seento which out a generational practice, 4cut' into the work of Whiteread, or be found secreted within it; a thernatics of secrecyis entrencheddeepwithin theseobjects. ***
If the work of Westennannis the secretthat haunts the work of Whiteread, then the model
that such a claim
enable a wholly
74Nicholas Rand, 'Secretsand Posterity: The Theory of the TransgenerationalPhantom', in The Shell and the Kernel, op-cit., p. 37. 75Abraham, 'Notes on the Phantom', Ibid., p. 173.
approachto the way in which stylistic change and formation can be tracked. Rather than use this method as a way of accounting for such occurrencesI want to instead in the effect as a problem sculptural histories. The phantom effect phantom posit cannot resolve problems either in psychic life or artistic practice, but insteadpoints to them, as they function on the site of sculptureas problems enabling a renegotiationof those earlier models and artists that have since been lost, or secretedwithin those histories. This position would not work so well were it to point to the more overt influencesthat seemto be at work in an artist's work. For example,it is a less fruitful influence Minimalism the track to of simply upon Whiteread. Rather, it is endeavour the moments in which the discrepanciescome to light. Both Nauman's brief but intensive engagementwith the work of other artists, and Whiteread's positive casting from her own body, have each been found to be pivotal moments in these artists' works, planted at an early stagethat only retrospectively come to 'mean' in the way I have beendescribing.
The point of the phantom effect is not the reinsertion of since-lost artists back into the histories of the moment, but to use the problem of the phantom in order to point out that those artists were already there, as blockages, or 'secrets' that found their 'heard' or were only later, through that generationaldelay, whether as a articulation, celebratory,heretical, commemorative,ambivalent or even unconscious. As a way of working through the complexities of artistic inheritance, the notion of the phantom may go some way in helping us articulate alternative models of critical writing that incorporate the breakdowns and failures both in those histories and objects themselveswhich haunt it. Just as the analysand'whose messagethey failed to hear', goes on to haunt the analyst, so too, those objects that have been 'listened to time 76 key after time-the riddles with no which refuse to yield up 'the distinctive oeuvre
76Abraham and Torok, ' "The Lost Object-Me": 139.
Notes on Endocryptic Identification', in Ibid., p.
77 haunt later histories lives', those to their critical as writings and phantoms return of of the period in which they are encrypted.
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Krauss,Rosalind, Passagesin Modem Sculpture, (New York, NY and London, Thamesand Hudson, 1977) Krauss,Rosalind E.The Originality of the Avant Garde and Other Modernist Myths, (Cambridge,MA: MIT Press,1985) Kristeva, Julia, Tales of Love, (New York, NY: Columbia University Press,1987) Kultermann, Udo, 77teNew Sculpture: Environmentsand Assemblages,(New York, NY: Praegar,1968) Lacan, Jacques,The Four Fundamental Conceptsof Psychoanalysis,(London: Vintage Press,1998) Lacan, Jacques,The Seminar ofJacques Lacan, Book VIL The Ethics of Psychoanalysis,(London: Routledge, 1992) Lalibert6, Mornal and Mogelon, Alex, Collage, Montage and Assemblage: Historical Van Nostrund (New York: NY: Art Horizons, Techniques, Contemporary and Rheinhold Company,no date) LaPlanche,J and Pontalis, J.-B., The Languageof Psychoanalysis,trans.by Donald Nicholson-Smith (London: Karnac Books, 1973) Uvi-Strauss, Claude, The SavageMind, (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson Ltd., 1966) Licht, Fred, Sculpture: 191hand 20'h Centuries,(Norwich: Jarrold and Sons, 1967) Lingwood, James,ed. Rachel Whiteread: House, (London: PhaidonPress,1995) Lippard, Lucy, Eva Hesse,(New York, NY: Da Capo Press,1993) Lippard, Lucy, The Pink Glass Swan: selectedJeministessayson art, (New York, NY: New Press,1995) Lippard, Lucy, SU Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object, (New York, NY: Praegar,1973) Livingstone, Marco, ed., Pop Art, exh. cat., (London: Royal Academy of Arts, 1991) Livingstone, Janeand Tucker, Marcia, Bruce Nauman: Workfrom 1965-1972,exh. County Museum CA: Los Art, 1973) Angeles, Angeles (Los of cat.
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Sparks,Esther, Universal Limited Art Editions: A History and Catalogue: 7he First Twenty-Five Years,(Chicago, IL: The Art Institute of Chicago and Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1989) Starr, SandraL., Lost and Found in California: Four DecadesofAssemblageArt, (Los Angeles,CA: JamesCorcoran Gallery, 1988) Stewart, Susanand Rugoff, Ralph, At The Threshold of the Visible: Miniscule and Small-ScaleArt 1964-1996,exh. cat., (New York, NY: IndependentCuratorsInc., 1997) Stewart, Susan,On Longing: Narratives of the Miniature, the Gigantic, the Souvenir, the Collection, (Baltimore, MD: JohnsHopkins University Press,1984) Stich, Sidra, Made in the USA: An Americanization in Modern Art, the '50s and '60s, California University Press, 1987) CA: (Berkeley, of exh. cat., Stoops,Susan,L., ed. More than Minimal: Feminism and Abstraction in the 1970s, (Waltham, MA: RoseArt Museum, Brandeis University, 1996) Suleiman,SusanRubin, ed., The Female Body in WesternCulture, (Cambridge,MA: Harvard University Press,1985) Sussman,Elisabeth,ed., Eva Hesse,exh.cat. (San Francisco,CA: SanFrancisco Museum of Modem Art, 2002) Sussman,Elisabeth,ed., On the Passageof a Few People Through a rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1957-1972,(Boston, MA: ICA, 1989 and Cambridge,MA: MIT Press,1991) Tisdall, Caroline,JosephBeuys,(London and New York, NY: Thamesand Hudson, 1979) is 21Y Century, (New York, NY: Space: Sculpture Form Trier, Eduard, of the and Frederick A. Prager, 1968) Tuchman, Maurice, ed., American Sculpture of the Sixties,exh. cat. (Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles Museum of ContemporaryArt, 1967) Tucker, William, The Condition of Sculpture, (London: Hayward Gallery, 1975) Tucker, William, The Languageof Sculpture, (London and New York, NY: Thames and Hudson, 1974) Van Bruggen, Coosje,Bruce Nauman, (New York: Rizzolo, 1988)
Van Bruggen, Coosje,Bruce Nauman: Drawings 1965-85, (Basel, Switzerland, 1985) Wagner, Anne, ThreeArtists (Three Women)Modernism and the Art of Hesse, Krasner and O'Keefe, (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press,1998) Waldman, Diane, Collage, Assemblage,and the Found Object, (London: Phaidon, 1992) West, Philip and Moon, Suh-Ji, Rememberingthe "Forgotten War", (New York, NY: M. E. Sharpe,2001) Whitfield, Sarah,Lucio Fontana, exh.cat. (London: Hayward Gallery, 1999) Williams, Richard J., After Modern Sculpture: Art in the United Statesand Europe 1965-70, (Manchester:ManchesterUniversity Press,2000) Wilson, Laurie, Louise Nevelson: Iconography and Sources,(New York, NY: GarlandPublishersInc., 1981) Woolf, Virginia, Three Guineas, (New York, NY: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1936) Zelevansky,Lynn, Senseand Sensibility: Womenartists and Minimalism in the Nineties, exh. cat., (New York: NY: Musuem of Modem Art, 1994) Zizek, Slajov, Looking Awry, (Cambridge,MA: MIT Press,1998) Articles/Reviews Antin, David, 'Another Category: "Eccentric Abstraction,"' Artforum, vol. 5, no. 3, (November, 1966)pp. 56-57 Bochner, Mel, 'Eccentric Abstraction,' Arts Magazine, vol. 41, (November 1966)pp. 57-58 Buchloh, Benjamin, 'The Primary Colors for the SecondTime: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-Avant-Garde', October, no. 37, (Summer 1986)pp. 41-52 Buchloh, Benjamin, 'Conceptual Art 1962-69,' October, no. 5, (Winter 1990)pp. 152-157 Buchloh, Benjamin, 'Detritus and Decreptitude:The Sculpture of Thomas Hirschhorn', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 24, no. 2, (2001) pp. 41-56
Caillois, Roger, 'Mimicry and LegendaryPsychasthenia,'[Minotaure 7,1935], October, no. 31 (Winter 1984)pp. 17-32 Cousins,Mark, 'The Ugly', AA Files, nos. 28/29, (1994/95) pp. 61-66 and 3-7 Danieli, Fidel A., 'The Art of Bruce Nauman', Artforum, vol. 6, no.4 (December 1967)pp. 15-19 Dolar, Mladen, "'I Shall Be With You On Your Wedding Night, " Lacan and the Uncanny,' October,no. 58, (Fall 1991)pp. 5-23 Doty, Robert, 'The Grotesquein American Art', Art and Artists, vol. 5, no. 1, (April 1976)pp. 13-15 Ellis, Stephen,'Eccentric Abstraction at BlurnHelrnan Warehouse, Art in America, no. 5, (May 1986)p. 160 Fenichel, Otto, 'The Scopophilic Instinct and Identification', , in: Fenichel, Hanna and Rapaport,David, eds., The CollectedPapers of Otto Fenichel, (London: Routledge, 1954)pp. 373-397 Fer, Briony, 'Objects Beyond Objecthood', Oxford Art Journal, vol. 22, no. 2, (1999) pp. 25-36 Fer, Briony, 'Treading Blindly, or the ExcessivePresenceof the Object,' Art History, vol. 20, no. 2, (1997) pp. 268-288 Fer, Briony, 'Bordering on Blank: Eva Hesseand Minimalism', Art History, vol. 17, no. 3, (1994) pp. 424-9 Foster,Hal, 'The Receptionof the Sixties,' October, no. 69, (Summer 1994)pp. 3-23 Harrison, Charles, 'Expression and Exhaustionin the Sixties, Part One' Artscribe, no. 56, (February-March 1986)pp. 45-49 Harrison, Charles, 'Expression and Exhaustionin the Sixties, Part Two', Artscribe, no, 57, (April-May 1986),pp. 32-35 Holland, Nancy J., 'The Death of the Other/Father:A Feminist Readingof Derrida's Hauntology,' Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy, vol. 16, no.1, (Winter 2002) pp. 64-72 Jacobus,Mary, 'Tea Daddy: Poor Mrs Klein and the Pencil Shavings', Women:A Cultural Review2, Special Issue, 'Positioning Klein', (Summer 1990)pp. 160-179
Judd, Donald, 'Specific Objects', Art Journal, vol. 30, no. 7, (April 1965)pp. 181189 Kamuf, Peggy, 'Abraham's Wake', Diacritics, vol. 9, no. 1 (Spring 1979)pp. 32-43 Kelly, Edward T., 'Neo-Dada: A Critique of Pop Art', Art Journal, vol. 23, no. 3, (Spring 1964)pp. 192-200 Kramer, Hilton, 'Wiley of the West: Dude RanchDada', New York Times,(Sunday 16thMay 1971) Krauss,Rosalind, 'Allusion and Illusion in Donald Judd, Artforum, vol. 4, no. 9 (May 1966)pp. 24-26 Krauss,Rosalind, 'Senseand Sensibility - Reflections on Post '60s Sculpture,' Artforum, vol. 12 no. 3 (November 1973)pp. 43-53 Lajer Burcharch,Ewa- 'A StrangerWithin', Parkett, no.53, (1998) pp36-45 Lippard, Lucy, 'Eccentric Abstraction, Art International, vol. 10, no. 9, (November 1966)pp. 28-40 Lippard, Lucy, 'Eva Hesse:The circle,' Art in America, no. 3, (May-June 1971) pp. 68-73 Lurie, David, 'American Eccentric Abstraction, 1965-72', Arts Magazine, vol. 60, (March 1986) Michelson, Annette, '10 x 10,'Artforum, vol. 4, no. 5, (January 1966) pp.30-31 Miller, SarahE., 'Bringing Up Demons', Diacritics, vol. 18 no. 1, (Spring 1988)pp. 2-30 Nixon, Mignon, 'Posing the Phallus,' October,no. 92, (Spring 2000) pp. 99-127 Nixon, Mignon, 'Bad Enough Mother', October, no. 72, (Winter 1998)pp. 70-92 'Du Secret', Nouvelle Revuede Psychanalyse,no. 14, (Autumn 1976) Perreault,John, 'Eccentrics', Village Voice, 15"' October 1970 Rand, Nicholas and Torok, Maria, 'The Sandmanlooks at "The Uncanny": the return of the repressedor of the secret;Hoffmann's question to Freud', in: Shamdasani, Sonu and MUnchow,eds.,Speculationsafter Freud, (London: Routledge, 1994)pp. 185-203
Rand, Nicholas, 'Family Romanceor Family History? Psychoanalysisand Dramatic Invention in Nicolas Abraham's "The Phantomof Hamlet"', Diacritics, (Winter 1988) Rand, Nicholas and Torok, Maria, 'The Secretof Psychoanalysis:History Reads Theory', Critical Inquiry, no. 12., (Winter 1987)pp. 278-286 Raskin, David, 'Specific Opposition: Judd's Art and Politics, Art History, vol. 24, 682-706 5., (2001) pp. no. Ratcliff, Carter, 'Notes on Small Sculpture', Artforum, vol. 12, no. 8 (April 1976)pp. 35-42 Rose, Barbara, 'Blowup-The Problem of Scale in Sculpture', Art in America, no.56, (July-Augustl968) pp. 80-91 Roth, Moira, 'The Aesthetics of Indifference', Artforum, vol. 16, no. 3, (November 1977)pp. 46-53 Wagner, Anne M. 'Henry Moore's Mother', Representations,no. 65, (Winter 1999) pp. 93-120 Wassermann,Emily, 'William T. Wiley and William Allan: Meditating at Fort Prank', Artforum, (December 1970) Zizek, Slajov, 'Grimaces of the Real, or When the Phallus Appears,' October, no. 58, (Fall 1991)pp. 45-68 LUCAS SAMARAS Books/Exhibition Catalogues Alloway, Lawrence,Lucas Samaras:SelectedWorks 1960-1966,With artists' statement,exh. cat., (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1966) Amaya, Mario and Penrose,Sir Roland, The obsessiveImage, exh. cat., (London: The Institute of ContemporaryArt, 1968) Blau, Douglas,Lucas Samaras: Chairs, Heads,Panoramas,exh. cat., (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1984) Celant, Gennano,Lucas Samaras:Boxesand Mirrored Cell, exh. cat., (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1988)
Constantine,Mildred and Drexler, Arthur, Pie Object Transformed,(New York, NY: Museum of Modem Art, 1966) Cooke, Lynne, Lucas Samaras,exh. cat., (London: Waddington Gallery, 1990) Doty, Robert, Human ConcernlPersonalTorment: The Grotesquein American Art, (New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1969) AmbiguousImage, Friedman,Martin and Marck, Jan van der, Eight Sculptors: 771e (Minneapolis, MN: Walker Art Center, 1966) Gruen, John, 'Lucas Samaras',TheArtist Observed:28 Interviews with ContemporaryArtists, (Chicago, IL: A Cappella Books, 1991) Indiana, Gary, 'Poetic Injustice', Lucas Samaras: Chairs and Drawings, (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1987) Kuspit, Donald B., 'Lucas Samaras'sDeath Instinct', TheNew Subjectivism:Art in the 1980s,(New York, NY: Da Capo Press,1988) Kuspit, Donald B., 'SamarasWinged and Wingless. Celestial and Demonic, Anoited York, (New NY: Pace Bronzes, Samaras Pastels Demented', cat., exh. and and Gallery and London: Mayor Gallery, 1982) Levin, Kim, Lucas Samaras,(New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams Inc., 1975) Lifson, Ben, Samaras: the Photographsof Lucas Samaras,(New York, NY: Aperture Foundation, 1987) Marter, Joan, Off-Limits: Rutgers University and the Avant-Garde 1957-1963: Brecht, Hendricks, Kaprow, Lichenstein,Samaras,Segal, Watts, "itman, (New Brunswick, NJ: RutgersUniversity Press,1999) McEvilley, Thomas, Kuspitt, Donald and Smith, Roberta,Lucas Samaras:Objects and Subjects1969-1986,(New York, NY: Abbeville Press,1986) Mulvey, Laura, Fetishism and Curiosity, Indiana, (1996), Noble, Alexandra, Worlds in a Box, (London: South Bank Centre,1994) Pincus-Witten, Robert, Postminimalisminto Postmaximalism:American Art 19661986, (Ann Arbor, MI: UMI ResearchPress,1987) Rose,Barbara, 'Barbara Roseinterviews Lucas Samaras',Lucas Samaras: Reconstructions,exh. cat., (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1978)
Samaras,Lucas, Lucas Samaras,exh. cat., (New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1972) Samaras,Lucas, Lucas Samaras:Slices ofAbstraction Slivers of Passionandlor Mere Dicor, (New York, NY: PaceGallery, 1991) Samaras,Lucas, SamarasAlbum, (New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art and PaceEditions Inc., 1971) Samaras,Lucas, Crude Delights, (New York: NY, PaceGallery, 1980) Schjeldahl,Peter, 'Lucas Samaras',in J-C Ammann, M Auping, R Rosenblumamnd Schjeldahl, Peter,Art of our Time: The Saatchi Collection, no. 2, (London: Lund Humphries, 1984) Siegfried, Joan,Lucas Samaras:Boxes,exh. cat., (Chicago, IL: Museum of ContemporaryArt, 1971) Articles/Reviews Diehl, Carol, 'Birds, Beadsand Bannerstones',ARTnews,vol. 95, (Summer 1996)pp. 76-84 Factor, Donald, 'An Exhibition of Boxes', Artforum, vol. 11, no. 10, (April 1964)pp. 20-23 Friedman,Martin, 'The ObsessiveImagesof Lucas Samaras',Art and Artists, vol. 1, no. 8, (November 1966)pp. 20-23 Glueck, Grace, 'Celebrating Many Lucas Samaras's',New York Times,(Friday 15th November 1996) Johnson,Ken, 'Transformer: Lucas Samaras',Art in America, no.? (February 1977) pp. 76-82 Judd, Donald, 'In the Galleries', Arts Magazine, vol. 36, (February 1962)p. 44-45 Kramer, Hilton, 'The Daring Theatricality of Lucas Samaras',New York Times, (Monday, 26thFebruary, 1978) Larson, Kay, 'Lucas Samaras, New York Times, (14thNovember 1988)
Levin, Kim, 'Eros, Samarasand RecentArt', Arts Magazine,vol. 47, (December 1972) Levin, Kim, 'Reviews and Previews, ARTnews,vol. 67, (December 1968)pp. 53-54 Levin, Kim, 'SamarasBound', ARTnews,vol. 67, (February 1969), pp. 35-37 and 54 and 56 Perreault,John, 'Cotton Scissors', The Village Voice, (October 24th 1968)p. 17 Pincus-Witten, Robert 'Rosenquistand Samaras:The ObsessiveImage and PostMinimalism', Artforum, vol. 11, no. .1 (1972) pp. 63-69. Ratcliff, Carter, 'Boxes of Mystery', Architectural Digest, no. 41, (August, 1984)pp. 112-117 Samaras,Lucas 'I Use the Whole Body', New York Times, (SundayOctober 30 1976) Samaras,Lucas, 'A ReconstitutedDiary: Greece 1967', Artforum, vol. 7, no. 2, (October 1967)pp. 54-57 Samaras,Lucas, 'An Exploratory Dissection of Seeing', Artforum, vol. 6 no. 4, (December1967)pp. 26-27 Samaras,Lucas, 'Cornell Size', Arts Magazine, (May 1967)pp. 45-47 Samaras,Lucas, 'Stealingman', Arts Magazine, vol. 43, (September1967)pp. 46-47 Schwartz,Barbara, 'An Interview with Lucas Samaras',Craft Horizons, vol. 32, no.6, (December1972)pp. 36-43 Sischy, Ingrid, 'The SamarasSpectrum', Homesand Gardens,(December 1990)pp. 125-132and 191 Solomon, Alan, 'An Interview with Lucas Samaras',Artforum, vol. 5 no. 2, (October 1966)pp. 39-44 Sweet,David, 'Lucas Samaras',Arts Magazine, vol. 59, (October 1984) Tillim, Sidney 'Boxes', Art in America, no. 52, (June 1964) Waldman, Diane, 'Samaras:Reliquariesfor St. Sade',Art News, vol 65, (October 1966)pp. 44-46 and 72-75
Willard, Charlotte, 'Violence and Art', Art in America, no. 57, (January 1969)pp. 3643 LEE BONTECOU Books/Exhibition Catalogues Ashton, Dore, RecentAmerican Sculpture at the Jewish Museum,(New York: Jewish Museum, 1964) Dorfles, Gillo, Gassiot-Talabot,Gerald and Michelson, Annette, Lee Bontecou, (Paris: Illeana SonnabendGallerie, 1965) Dreishpoon,Douglas, From a Curator's Point of View: Making Selections,Forging Connections,(Greensboro,NC: WeatherspoonArt Gallery, North Carolina, 1996) Fiber and Form: The Woman'sLegacy, exh. cat., (New York, NY: Michael RosenfeldGallery, 1996) Lee Bontecou:New York, exh. cat., (Leverkusen:St!idtischesMuseum, 1968) Lee Bontecouin Retrospect:Paintings and Drawings, exh. cat., (SaratogoSprings, NY: Hathorn Gallery, Skidmore College, 1977) Lippard, Lucy R., From the Center.-Feminist Essayson Women'sArt, (New York, NY: EP Dutton, 1976) Marks, Claude,ed., World Artists 1950-1980,(New York: NY, H.W. Wilson Publishers 1984) Miller, Dorothy C., americans '63, (New York, NY: Museum of Modem Art, 1963) Prints and Drawings by Lee Bontecou, exh. cat., (Middleton, CT: Davison Art Center, Wesleyan 1975)
Ratcliff, Carter,Lee Bontecou,(Chicago, IL: Museum of ContemporaryArt, 1972) Raven,Arlene, True Grit: Lee Bontecou,Louise Bourgeois,Jay DeFeo, Claire Falkenstein,Nancy Grossman,Louise Nevelson,Nancy Spero, (New York, NY: Michael RosenfeldGallery, 2000) Rubenstein,Charlotte Streifer, American WomenSculptors, (Boston, MA: Hall, 1990) The Sculptural Membrane,exh. cat., (New York, NY: SculptureCenter, 1986)
Smith, Elizabeth A. T., Lee Bontecou: Sculpture and Drawings of the 1960s,(Los Angeles, CA: Museum of ContemporaryArt, 1993) SmithsonianArchives of American Art: Reel N68-59 T: 3057, Patron 3293, Leo Castelli Gallery Papers,Group IV Tanner, Marcia, Bad Girls, (Cambridge,MA: MIT Press,1994) Articles/Reviews Ashton, Dore 'Unconventional Techniquesin Sculpture', Studio Intemational no. 169 (January1965)pp. 22-25. Ashton, Dore, 'Illusion and Fantasy:Lee Bontecou', Metro Young,no. 19, (1962) p. 29 Bontecou,Lee, private correspondancewith the author, letters (April-June 2001) Braff, Phyllis, 'Unsettling Sculptureby Lee Bontecoufrom Tumult of the Sixties', New York Times,(Sunday24thOctober 1993)p. 20 Coplans,John, 'Higgins, Price, Chamberlain,Bontecou,Westermann',Artforum, vol. 2., no. 10, (Arpil 1964)pp. 38-40 Duncan, Michael, 'Lee Bontecou at Daniel Weinberg', Art in America no. 7 (December2002) pp. 103-104. Hadler, Mona, 'Lee Bontecou's "Warnings"', Art Journal, vol. 53, no. 4, (Winter 1994)pp. 56-61 Hadler, Mona, 'Lee Bontecou-Heartof a ConqueringDarkness', Source Notes in the History ofArt, vol. 7, no. 1., (Fall 1992)pp. 38-44 Henning, Edward B., 'Some Modem Paintings:Lee Bontecou, Untitled', Die Bulletin of the ClevelandMuseum ofArt, (February 1969)pp. 78-80 'It's Art, But will it FlyT, Vogue,(May 1969)pp. 194-195 Johnson,Lincoln F., 'A Diversity of Approachesin ContemporaryArt: Raushenberg, Bontecou,Noland', Honolulu AcademyofArts Journal, vol. 1, (1974) pp. 51-67 Judd, Donald, 'Lee Bontecou at Leo Castelli', Arts Magazine vol. 35, December 1960,p. 56 Judd, Donald, 'In the Galleries: Lee Bontecou', Arts Magazine, vol. 37, (January 1963)p. 65
Judd, Donald, 'Lee Bontecou', Arts Magazine, vol. 39 (April 1965)pp. 178-180 Knight, Christopher Tontecou "'Sculpture": Hybrid Eruptions', Los Angeles Times, (Monday April 5th1993) Lebel, Robert, 'V Irruption des Femmesdans]a Sculpture." XXe Siecle,no. 30, (June 1968) (unsigned) 'Les Machines a terreur de Lee Bontecou', Metro, no. 3., (1961) Lippard, Lucy 'Judy Chicago talking to Lucy R. Lippard', Artforum vol. 13, no. 7, (September1974)pp. 60-64 Mellow, JamesR, 'Bontecou's Well-Fed Fish and Malevolent Flowers, New York Times (June6"' 1971) p. 19. Myers, Terry R., 'From the Junk Aesthetic to the Junk Mentality', in Arts Magazine, 60-64 1990) (February 64 7, pp. no. vol. Smith, Elizabeth AT., 'Abstract Sinister', Art in America, no.9, (September1993)pp. 82-87 Smith, Roberta,'Haunting Works from the Sixties', New York Times,(Sunday3rd October, 1993),p. 42 Towle, Tony, 'Two Conversationswith Lee Bontecou', Print Collector's Newsletter, vol. 2, no., 2., (May-June 1971)pp. 25-28 Wolf, William, 'Bumpers, Wires and Canvas', SundayJournal (1963) H. C. WESTERMANN Books/Exhibition Catalogues Adrian, Dennis, Rooks, Michael, Storr, Robert and Warren, Lynne, H. C. Westermann,exh.cat., (Chicago, IL: Museum of ContemporaryArt and Harry N. Abrams Inc., 2001) Adrian, Dennis, SeeAmerica First: 77zePrints of H. C Westermann,(Chicago, ILL:, The Smart Museum, University of Chicago, 2001) Adrian, Dennis, H. C. Westennann:Made in Chicago, (Washington,WA: SmithsonianInstitution Press,1974)
Adrian, Dennis, et. al., H. C Westermann,exh. cat., (London: Ernest Benn Ltd., 1981) Benezra,Neal, H. C. Westermann: Selectionsfrom the Alan and Dorothy Press Collection, (Chicago, IL: Art Institute of Chicago, 1987) H. C Westermann:RecentSculpture by H. C. Westermann,(Chicago, IL: Allan Frurnkin Gallery, 1963) H. C Westermann:Sculpture and Drawing, (New York, NY: Lennon Weinberg Inc., 1988) Haskell, Barbara,H. C. Westermann,(New York, NY: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1978) King, David and McKim-King, Melani, eds.,H. C Westermann:WEST,exh. cat., (Richmond, CA: Richmond Arts Center, 1997) Kozloff, Max, H. C Westennann,exh.cat., (Los Angeles, CA: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1968) Westermann,H.C., Lettersfrom H. C. Westermann,ed. Bill Barrette, (New York, NY: Timken PublishersInc., 1988) Articles/Reviews 'Westermann'sObjects: Wit Nailed Down and SometimesPolished', Time, (December29th1968)pp. 66-67 and 69 Adrian, Dennis, 'Some Notes on H. C. Westermann',Art Intemational, vol. 7 no. 2, (February 1963)pp. 52-55 Adrian, Dennis, 'The Art of H. C. Westermann, Ar(forum, vol. 6 no. 1, (September 1976)pp. 16-22 Canaday,John 'Art: New Imagesof Man', New York Times,(September30 1959) Farber,Manny, 'New Imagesof (ugh) Man', Artnews vol. 58, no. 6, (October 1959) pp. 38-39,58 Garvey, Timothy J., 'Mysteriously AbandonedNew Home: Architecture as Metaphor in the Early Sculptureof H.C. Westermann',American Art, National Museum of American Art, SmithsonianInstitute, (Spring 1996)pp. 43-63 Judd, Donald, 'In the Galleries: H. C. Westermann, Arts Magazine, vol. 38, (October 1963)p. 99
Kingsley, April, 'Narrating Life's Existential Fuck-Up', 771eVillage Voice, (May 22nd 1978) Klein, Michael, 'Ingenious Simplicity: The Sculpture of H. C. Westermann, Sculpture, (May/June 1998)pp. 52-57 Kuspit, Donald B., T. C. Westermann:Braving the Absurd', Art in America, no. 1, (Jan/Feb1979)pp. 84-85 Marzorati, Gerald, T. C. Westennann, 1922-1981',Portfolio, vol. IV, no. 1, (Jan/Feb 1982)pp. 54-55 and 57 McCarthy, David, T. C. Westermann'sBrink7nanship',American Art, National Museum of American Art, SmithsonianInstitute, (Fall 1996)pp. 50-69 Moss, Stacy, 'Fishhooks in the Memory, Time, (December20 1968)pp. 66-69 Perreault,John, 'A Cliff in the Woods', The Village Voice, (December9th 1974),p. 100 Perreault,John, 'An Artist's Artist', The Soho WeeklyNews, (May 25th 1978) Perreault,John, T. C. Westermann',MCA Alumnae Journal, vol. 1, no. 5, Moore College of Art Alumnae Association, (Winter 1973)pp. 6-8 Schjeldahl,Peter, 'Crime of the Heartland', The Village Voice, (November25th December 1" 1981) Von Schach,Katherine, 'H. C. Westermannat SanFranscisoMoMA', Vanguard, (April 1979)p. 31