Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture


















SCULPTURE BETWEEN THE WARS - Part1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
SCULPTURE SINCE 1945 - Part1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15





Judd Donald.

Judd Donald
(1928-1994) carries the implications of Primary Structures to their logical conclusion: Minimalism. Unlike Environmental Sculpture, his works serve to articulate interior space without shaping it. In search of the ultimate unity, he separated Smith's Cubi into its two components, reducing the geometry to a single cube or cylinder. Judd established the proportions through precise mathematical formulas and eliminated any hint of personal intervention by contracting the work out to industrial fabricators. Having gained total control over all his elements, he soon began to elaborate on them. The most involved pieces produce a decorative opulence by repeating the shape serially at set intervals and adding an intense primary color to one or more sides (fig. 1147). Judd's strict guidelines permit few variations, only greater refinement, but within these limitations the results are often impressive. Why this should be so is not easily explained, although the artist is an eloquent spokesman. In the end, the success of his work depends on its subtle proportions and flawless finish, which enable him to achieve a degree of perfection attained by few other sculptors who share the same approach.

1147. Judd Donald. Unfitted. 1989.
Copper with red plexiglass;
ten units,
23 x 100.3 x 78.8 cm.
Courtesy of The Pace Gallery, New York



Donald Judd

Donald Judd, in full Donald Clarence Judd (born June 3, 1928, Excelsior Springs, Mo., U.S.—died Feb. 12, 1994, New York, N.Y.), American artist and critic associated with minimalism. Credited as minimalism’s principal spokesman, Judd wrote what is considered to be one of the most significant texts of the movement, Specific Objects (1965). The article laid out the minimalist platform of stressing the physical, phenomenological experience of objects rather than representing any metaphysical or metaphoric symbolism. Judd’s sculpture was based almost exclusively on the box form—either alone or in series of modules, on the wall or on the floor—with artworks varying in colour, material, scale, proportion, and number. Like other minimalists of his generation, Judd was preoccupied with the use of industrial materials and their placement in specific arrangements and sites. He never referred to himself as a sculptor but rather as a maker of specific objects.

Judd attended the Art Students League in New York City from 1948 to 1953 and then Columbia University, where in 1953 he graduated cum laude with a B.S. in philosophy. From 1959 to 1965 he wrote art criticism for several American art magazines. Interested in the scale and physicality of the reigning Abstract Expressionists, Judd began his work as an artist by painting. Though he retained a lifelong interest in the aesthetics of painting, in 1962 he abandoned the medium as too illusionistic and turned to relief sculpture and then freestanding work. He worked with industrial materials such as transparent coloured plastics and anodized aluminum, and he had much of his work industrially fabricated to obtain a perfect finish and remove all association with the handmade. After 1980 his sculptures began to take up more space and became more complex; some of his modular units achieved a length of 80 feet (24 metres). In 1981 he moved to West Texas, where in 1986 he opened a contemporary art museum, the Chinati Foundation, in the town of Marfa. The 340-acre (138-hectare) site features permanent installations by Judd and a number of other artists, including Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain, Carl Andre, Ingólfur Arnarsson, Roni Horn, Ilya Kabakov, Richard Long, Claes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, David Rabinowitch, and John Wesley.

Encyclopædia Britannica


Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Judd Donald. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro.

A number of sculptors gradually began to move away from Minimalism without entirely renouncing it. This trend, called Post-Minimalism to denote its continuing debt to the earlier style, has as its leading exponent Joel Shapiro (born
1941). After fully exploring the possibilities of small pieces having great conceptual intensity and aesthetic power, he suddenly began to produce sculptures of simple wood beams that refer to the human figure but do not directly represent it. They assume active "poses," some standing awkwardly off-balance, others dancing or tumbling, so that they charge the space around them with energy. Shapiro soon began casting them in bronze, which retains the impress of the rough wood grain (fig. 1148). These are hand-finished with a beautiful patina by skilled artisans, reasserting the craftsmanship traditional to sculpture. By freely rearranging the vocabulary of David Smith, who actually experimented with a similar figure before his death, Shapiro has given Minimalist sculpture a new lease on life. Nevertheless, his remains one of the few successful attempts at reviving contemporary sculpture, which as a whole has found it especially difficult to seek a new direction.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted. 1989-90.
Bronze, 257.8 x 106.7 x 198.1 cm.
North Carolina Museum of Art



Joel Shapiro

Joel Shapiro (born 1941 New York City, New York) is an American sculptor renowned for his dynamic work composed of simple rectangular shapes. Shapiro is represented by The Pace Gallery in New York. He lives and works in New York City, with a summer house on the shore of Lake Champlain, in Westport, New York. He is married to the artist Ellen Phelan.

Joel Shapiro grew up in Sunnyside, Queens, New York. When he was twenty two he lived in India for two years while in the Peace Corps. He received a B.A. in 1964 and an M.A. in 1969 from New York University

While serving his Peace Corp time in India, Shapiro saw many Indian art works, and has said that “India gave me the sense of … the possibility of being an artist.” In India “Art was pervasive and integral to the society”, and he has said that "the struggle in my work to find a structure that reflects real psychological states may well use Indian sculpture as a model." His early work is characterized by some by its small size, but Shapiro has discounted this perception, describing his early works as, “all about scale and the small size was an aspect of their scale”. He described scale as “A very active thing that’s changing and altering as time unfolds, consciously or unconsciously,” and, "a relationship of size and an experience. You can have something small that has big scale.” In these works he said that he was trying "to describe an emotional state, my own longing or desire”. He also said that during this early period in his career he was interested in the strategies of artists Robert Morris, Richard Serra, Carl Andre, and Donald Judd. His later works can have the appearance of flying, falling, being impossibly suspended in space, and/or defying gravity. He has said about this shift in his work that he "wanted to make work that stood on its own, and wasn’t limited by architecture and by the ground and the wall and right angles.”


Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

Joel Shapiro. Unfitted.

African-American Sculpture

Minimalism was also a decisive influence on a group of talented African-American sculptors who came to maturity in the 1960s, although their contribution has only recently begun to receive critical attention. Their work has helped to make the late twentieth century the first great age of African-American art. While the artists themselves show a variety of style, subject matter, and approach, all address the black experience in America within a contemporary abstract aesthetic. Thus they have the advantage over African-American painters, who have often been burdened by representationalism and traditional styles.

Martin Puryear.

Martin Puryear (born
1941), the leading black sculptor on the scene today, draws on his experience with the woodworkers of both Sierra Leone in western Africa, where he spent several years in the Peace Corps, and Sweden, where he attended the Royal Academy. Puryear manages to weld these disparate sources into a seamless unity. He adapts African motifs and materials to the modem Western tradition, relying on meticulous craftsmanship to bridge the gap. His forms, at once bold and refined, have an elegant simplicity that contrasts the natural and man-made, the finished and unfinished. They may evoke a saw, bow, fishnet, anthill, or in this case a basket (fig. 1149)whatever his memory suggestseach restated in whimsical fashion.

1149. Martin Puryear. The Spell. 1985. Pine, cedar, and steel, 142.2 x 213.4 x 165.1 cm.
Courtesy Donald Young Gallery, Seattle



Martin Puryear

Martin Puryear (born May 23, 1941) is an African American sculptor. He works in media including wood, stone, tar, and wire, and his work is a union of minimalism and traditional crafts.

Martin Puryear was born in Washington, D.C., and he spent his youth studying practical crafts, learning how to build guitars and furniture. He received a B.A. from The Catholic University of America in 1963 and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1964 to 1966. In the late 1960s, he studied printmaking in Sweden and assisted a master cabinet-maker. He entered the Yale University graduate sculpture program in 1968.

His first solo exhibition was held in the late 1970s at the Corcoran Gallery of Art. In the 1980s he participated in two Whitney Biennials and received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He received a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1989.

In 2003, he served on the Jury for the World Trade Center Site Memorial Competition.

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art presented a 30-year survey of Puryear's work in 2008-2009. The presentation included "a special installation in the Haas Atrium including Ladder for Booker T. Washington (1996), made from a 36-foot-long split sapling, and Ad Astra (2007), a 63-foot-tall work that rises to the museum's fifth-floor bridge."


Martin Puryear. Bower. 1980.
Sitka spruce and pine, 162.6 x 240.7 x 67.6 cm.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington D.C

Martin Puryear. Plenty's Boast. 1995

Tyrone Mitchell.

Tyrone Mitchell (born
1944), like Puryear, spent a pivotal sojourn in Africa, where Dogon culture had a profound impact on him. His mature work presents a flawless synthesis of Western and African sources. Horn for Wilfredo (fig. 1150) reduces an antelope to its essence using Minimalist forms and the spare simplicity of Brancusi, who influenced him at the beginning of the 1980s. Yet the diversity of materials creates a rich array of textures and colors that shows the artist's respect for time-honored materials and craftsmanship. This compound object, we realize, is suffused with a vital energy that makes of it a Surrealist creature. Indeed, the title refers to the Cuban-born Surrealist Wilfredo Lam (1902-1982), an important early inspiration for Mitchell.

1150. Tyrone Mitchell. Horn for Wilfredo. 1987.
Wood, copper, plaster, and pigment, 165 x 124.5 x 17.8 cm.
Collection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,
The New York Public Library, Art and Artifacts Division

Melvin Edwards.

Melvin Edwards (born
1937), who has also paid homage to Lam, was equally affected by his visits to Africa. He may be regarded as the purist among contemporary African-American sculptors. An artist in the mold of David Smith, he continues to maintain an allegiance to the Primary Structure and the vocabulary of Minimalism, but invests them with uniquely personal meaning and social content. To Listen (fig. 1151) is a totemic figure reminiscent of Moore's Two Forms (fig. 1141) in its elemental shape but with the rugged strength that defines Edwards' work. Attached to it is the fragment of a chain, a favorite motif which recurs in his "Lynch Fragment Series"small works that radiate a truly frightening menace. In addition to denoting slavery, however, the chain has a positive meaning for the artist, to whom it signifies links with the past and the larger community. Likewise, abstraction helps him get in touch with his roots while providing a common ground of experience. In this he is close to the painter William T. Williams, a personal friend. Edwards revels in the labor of sculpture, the very feel of metal, which is reflected in the vigorous, handmade finish, a further debt to Smith. The result is a powerful monument to the African-American struggle for freedom and equality that possesses the dignity of the man himself and reflects the artist's strong sense of social responsibility.

1151. Melvin Edwards. To Listen. 1990.
Stainless steel, 227.3 x 39.3 x 93.9 cm.
Courtesy CDS Gallery, New York



Mel Edwards

Mel Edwards (born 1937) is an American sculptor, based in New York City. He has had more than a dozen one-person show exhibits and been in over four dozen group shows. He has had solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, New Jersey. His works, characterised by the use of straight-edged triangular and rectilinear forms, often have a political content.

Edwards is a graduate for the University of Southern California and also studied at Los Angeles City College, and the Los Angeles County Art Institute.

In 1964, he began teaching at San Bernardino Valley College. He went on to teach at the Chouinard Art Institute (now the California Institute of the Arts), the Orange County Community College in New York, and the University of Connecticut. His first one-person exhibition was held at the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, California, in 1965. In 1972 he began teaching at Rutgers University, where he taught classes in sculpture, drawing and Third World artists until his retirement from the school in 2002. In 1975 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A 30-year retrospective of his sculpture was held in 1993 at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York. Several of his works are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

His awards include a Fulbright Fellowship to Zimbabwe, and through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. His research into Third World visual culture has taken him to Morocco, Brazil, China, Cuba, and Nigeria. Inspiration for Edwards comes from his ancestral home, Africa, where he currently spends several months each year working as a sculptor in Senegal. He is a resident of New York City, and is represented by Alexander Gray Associates, a contemporary art gallery located in New York City.


Melvin Edwards.
The Principal. 1986
Welded Metal

Melvin Edwards.
Resolved. 1986

Melvin Edwards.

Melvin Edwards. Endura


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