Contemporary American Sculpture

Contemporary American Sculpture

Contemporary American Sculpture

Contemporary American Sculpture

Excerpt

Environment and national influences have played a major part in the development of art in the past. Today, in art, we are truly one world and the art heritage of all ages and all nations is part of all of us. New ideas and new approaches spread like a conflagration over the whole art world. Some of these ideas are vital and meaningful; others are exciting and momentary. There are no isolationists in art. We may reject certain ideas and embrace others but it is natural sympathy and selection that determine our direction, not ignorance or unawareness. The quality of a work of art of any time and any place -- whether fundamentally creative or the development of a creative tendency -- lies in the artist, himself; in his stature as an artist and a human being, and in his power of putting into a work of art the innate quality of life -- his sensitivity, his comprehension, and his creative vision.

Ludwig Brummé has compiled a book of sculpture today, here in these United States, not just for the student of sculpture, but for the people of this country, that they may know their sculptors and be enriched by the living and cultural value of their work. Sculpture should be as much a part of daily life as literature and music. Creating sculpture is one thing, seeing it is another. The sculptor must have vision to create, the person who would enjoy sculpture must have vision to see. To absorb the true meaning of sculpture and derive real pleasure from it, we must look at it with open eyes and open minds.

To appreciate one must not only look but see; one must not only respond with the mind but with the heart. One must approach sculpture with an open mind and let it speak in its own language. Even with an open mind a piece of sculpture either appeals to one or does not. Too great an effort to see and understand defeats itself. One must not stand in awe trying to trace a resemblance to known forms which may never have been intended; or try to read into it meanings which the sculptor may never have had in mind or expressed in form. If one clears one's mind of preconceived ideas -- ignoring, at first, what does not appeal -- and looks at the sculpture in a receptive and humble spirit, eventually, if anything is there, the beauty of form, the design, the interplay of mass and movement, or the human and emotional content will reveal itself to him. The spirit will be enriched by enjoyment and understanding.

It is not necessary to know the mechanics of sculpture -- how structure, form, volume, and rhythm are achieved. It would probably be very enlightening to watch a piece of sculpture in progress -- just as sitting through an orchestral rehearsal is very educational to many of us who have little idea of how music is handled and interpreted. All this is very educational if feasible, but emotional and visual enjoyment can be realized by simply looking at works of art in a receptive spirit. A little knowledge sometimes may be a detriment but, if one knows too much of the mechanics of production, it may interfere with his pleasure and true response by involving intellectual processes to the exclusion of art appreciation.

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