Sculptural Materiality in the Age of Conceptualism: International Experiments in Italy, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sculptural Materiality in the Age of Conceptualism

International Experiments in Italy, 1st Edition

By Marin R. Sullivan


16 pages | 67 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781472465986
pub: 2016-12-05
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Sculptural Materiality in the Age of Conceptualism is structured around four distinct but interrelated projects initially realized in Italy between 1966 and 1972: Yayoi Kusama’s Narcissus Garden, Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Newspaper Sphere (Sfera di giornali), Robert Smithson’s Asphalt Rundown, and Joseph Beuys’s Arena. These works all utilized non-traditional materials, collaborative patronage models, and alternative modes of display to create a spatially and temporally dispersed arena of matter and action, with photography serving as a connective, material thread within the sculpture it reflects. While created by major artists of the postwar period, these particular projects have yet to receive substantive art historical analysis, especially from a sculptural perspective. Here, they anchor a transnational narrative in which sculpture emerged as a node, a center of transaction comprising multiple material phenomenon, including objects, images, and actors. When seen as entangled, polymorphous entities, these works suggest that the charge of sculpture in the late postwar period came from its concurrent existence as both three-dimensional phenomena and photographic image, in the interchanges among the materials that continue to activate and alter the constitution of sculpture within the contemporary sphere.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Meshworks and Networks

Sculptural Materiality

Action and Circulation in Postwar Italy

1. Reflective Acts: Yayoi Kusama in Venice

"Sideshow" Sculptureand the XXXIII Venice Biennale

Photographic Mirrors

Self, Sculpture, and Photograph

Remnants and Residuum

2. With Time Action: Michelangelo Pistoletto in Turin

Mirror Images and Minus Objects

Con temp l’azione

The City as Material

From the Street to the Cage

3. Slow Dissolves: Robert Smithson in Rome

Exhibiting Process

The Flow of Sculpture

Photography is Action

The Age of Conceptualism

4. The Sculptural Arena: Joseph Beuys in Naples

The Mediterranean Situation


Between Image and Object

Sculpture as Multiple

Conclusion: Material Dispersions

Recreations and Replicas

Inert Monuments and Enlivened Objects

About the Author

Marin R. Sullivan is Assistant Professor of Art History, Department of Art, Keene State College, USA.

About the Series

Studies in Art Historiography

Studies in Art Historiography
The aim of this series is to support and promote the study of the history and practice of art historical writing focussing on its institutional and conceptual foundations, from the past to the present day in all areas and all periods. Besides addressing the major innovators of the past it also encourages re-thinking ways in which the subject may be written in the future. It ignores the disciplinary boundaries imposed by the Anglophone expression 'art history' and allows and encourages the full range of enquiry that encompasses the visual arts in its broadest sense as well as topics falling within archaeology, anthropology, ethnography and other specialist disciplines and approaches. It welcomes contributions from young and established scholars and is aimed at building an expanded audience for what has hitherto been a much specialised topic of investigation. It complements the work of the Journal of Art Historiography.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ART / Conceptual
ART / History / General
ART / American / General
ART / European
ART / History / Contemporary (1945-)
ART / Sculpture & Installation