Fifty Years of the History of American Sculpture

Roberta K. Tarbell, Professor Emerita, Art History, Rutgers University-Camden

Visiting Scholar, Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Adjunct Prof. of Art History, Winterthur Museum/University of Delaware, Preservation Studies Doctoral Program

 

During the last half century, the history of American sculpture has been transformed dramatically. Very roughly, during the first twenty-five years (i.e., from the late 1960s to mid-1990s), scholars used object- or artist-based documentary scholarship, connoisseurship, and formalist analyses to create the foundation publications. They established the rightful position of the history of American sculpture as a field of study in universities and placed collections of American sculpture on view in museums. During the last twenty-five years (from the 1990s to the present), specialists expanded the Eurocentric canon to include interdisciplinary approaches and wider global, social, and political contexts, new theoretical methods, and digital databases. This brief essay cannot be comprehensive and highlights the early development of the field, the inclusion of sculptors in publications and museums, and its amalgamation with material culture and feminism.1

Because I have been involved with American sculpture for fifty-two years, my experiences are interwoven with these themes. In 1965, at the University of Delaware, Wayne Craven taught a seminar on American sculpture—likely the first anywhere—as he was researching and writing his seminal and comprehensive book, Sculpture in America.2 (Craven, who had written his dissertation at Columbia University on French Gothic sculpture, in teaching a course on American art at Delaware in 1961, discovered that nothing substantive had been written on American sculpture in decades and began compiling information.) My paper for that course, “The Impact of the Armory Show upon American Sculpture,” demonstrated that, despite conventional wisdom, avant-garde sculptors in the United States were not converted to modernism by that memorable exhibition.3 I discovered that exposure to vanguard art and artists in Paris and to non-Western and folk sculptures there and in the United States were the keys for early twentieth-century innovators of sculpture in the United States. The search for the point of change from academic to modern art for American sculptors has fueled my research and publications for the rest of my career.

In 1969, I joined a group of Ph.D. students at Delaware, all of whom wrote their dissertations on American sculptors and devoted all or part of their careers to the history of sculpture in the United States: Marjorie Balge (dissertation on William Ordway Partridge, 1982), George Gurney (Olin Levi Warner, 1978), Joan M. Marter (Alexander Calder, 1974), Eric S. McCready (Lee Lawrie and Bertram Goodhue, 1973), Michael T. Richman (Daniel Chester French, 1974), Lewis I. Sharp (John Quincy Adams Ward, 1980), Pamela H. Simpson (Charles Grafly, 1974), and Tarbell (William Zorach, 1976).4 During the late 1960s and 1970s, we and others established databases of information on individual sculptors, works of art, and institutional collections—basic work that continues to the present day. During the 1970s, guides to outdoor public sculpture were published by the Fairmount Park Art Association (Philadelphia, 1976), James M. Goode (Washington, D. C., 1974), and Lewis I. Sharp (New York City, 1974).5 Although the study of white male sculptors of the northeast of the United States dominated the early decades, increasingly scholars published on sculpture from other regions within the United States.6 Since the study of American sculpture hardly preceded the feminist approach to art history, art historians consistently have paid attention to women as sculptors and reinterpreted women as sculptural subjects.7 The field of art history had few female practitioners when we began, but now the study of American sculpture history is dominated by women with an increasing number of scholars of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities.8 Recent scholars-of-color who have published work on artists-of-color and have offered in-depth examinations of issues of race, gender, colonialism, and public reception include: Reneé Ater (on Meta Warrick Fuller), Kirsten Pai Buick (Mary Edmonia Lewis), Charmaine A. Nelson (Lewis, William Wetmore Story, et al.), and Margaret Rose Vendryes (Richmond Barthé).9

From the beginning, the approach to the history of American sculpture for Craven and his students was informed by partnering with the material culture methodology of The Winterthur Program in Early American Culture.10 Winterthur Museum’s curator/professors, including Charles F. Montgomery, Charles F. Hummel, and Jonathan Fairbanks, taught us to pay attention to historical contexts, the class distinctions of patrons and artisans, and scientific analyses of artifacts. They also encouraged us to study functional and craft objects (then dubbed “low art”) as well as “high art.” Material culture theories developed in the art history program at Yale during the early 1970s by Jules Prown and Montgomery remain viable in the field.11 Prown’s methodologies, which include close analyses of single works of art, deconstruction, and psychoanalysis, redirected approaches to the history of visual culture, including sculpture. Among his countless protégés, Alexander Nemerov has published pioneering studies of Frederic Remington and William Rush.12 Some material culturists segued to Marxist and non-Marxist social history, which focused on painting and rarely on sculpture.13 A few scholars have focused on socio-political contexts for the creation and reception of public sculpture, including: Michele H. Bogart, Melissa Dabakis, Erika Doss, Kirk Savage, and Jennifer Wingate.14

Several special issues of scholarly journals, have recognized sculpture’s importance in the art history hierarchy. The November 1972 issue of the American Art Journal (published by the Kennedy Galleries, Inc., 1969-2004) was dedicated to “Nineteenth-Century American Sculpture,” an outcome of the first of the University of Delaware’s symposia on American art—this one organized by Craven’s sculpture students.15 In 1994, Mona Hadler and Joan Marter edited a special issue of “Sculpture in Postwar Europe and America, 1945-59” for Art Journal, one of the journals sponsored by the College Art Association.16 In 2010, Cynthia Mills summarized the state of current knowledge of American sculpture for the Smithsonian’s journal, American Art (1987– ). As the lead editor of The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art, Marter, with the help of the late Pam Simpson, who was editor for sculpture, was generous in covering sculpture throughout the volumes.17

Authors of recent textbooks surveying the history of American art, while including formerly neglected groups of artists and subjects, allot very little attention to sculptors. Framing America: A Social History of American Art by Frances K. Pohl, American Art: A Cultural History by David Bjelajac, and American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity by Angela L. Miller, Janet C. Berlo, Bryan J. Wolf, and Jennifer L. Roberts are cultural and social histories that include more sculptures and crafts by Native Americans, African Americans, early Spanish settlers, and artists working in non-Christian religious contexts than examples of three-dimensional artworks by white artists.18 Confined in her text by the concise format of the Oxford History of Art series, Erika Doss in Twentieth-Century American Art (2002) recognized the importance of sculpture with one quarter of the illustrations and wrote an excellent interpretation of the late-twentieth century developments that have redefined sculpture as a medium.

The near absence of American sculpture in museum galleries fifty years ago has been rectified. In 1962, William H. Gerdts organized an exhibition of American sculpture at the Newark Museum.19 In 1965, Albert TenEyck Gardner published American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and later that year led me on a rapid tour of the dusty American sculptures then stored in the darkened tunnels underneath the museum—with no heat or humidity control.20 In 1972, I found Lewis Sharp outdoors at the Met hosing the grime from marble sculptures which he had rescued from the dungeon in order to install them in the galleries. Amazing catalogues of American sculpture that have pushed our field forward include two from Brookgreen Gardens and many from museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine, Philadelphia; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the Corcoran, formerly of Washington, D.C.21 Digital catalogues of American sculpture—including provenance, analyses, and exhibition histories—are mushrooming on museum websites. In 2006, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts opened the remarkable Sculpture Study Center in its Samuel M. V. Hamilton Building across the street from the historic building. The Luce Foundation has sponsored centers for the study of American sculpture by facilitating the installation of visible storage at four museums: the Metropolitan Museum of Art (opened 1987), the New-York Historical Society (2000), the Brooklyn Museum (2005), and the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM)/National Portrait Gallery (2006). Creating the ability for all visitors to view hundreds of widely diverse sculptures is a game changer.

Throughout the last fifty years, I have always been affiliated with a museum and created dozens of exhibitions of early twentieth-century sculpture of the United States. Joshua C. Taylor, the first director of the National Collection of Fine Arts (now SAAM), mentored my research on sculptor William Zorach during my years as a Smithsonian Predoctoral Research Fellow (1972-74). He was passionate about rediscovering excellent American artists who had been neglected and facilitated the exhibitions of three I had uncovered: Marguerite Zorach, Peggy Bacon, and Hugo Robus.22 By the mid-1970s the cohort of American sculpture scholars had collected sufficient monographic data to be able to conceive conceptual group exhibitions. I was consultant for sculpture for William Innes Homer’s landmark Avant-Garde Painting & Sculpture in America 1910-25 (Delaware Art Museum, 1975) and worked with Joan Marter and Jeffrey Wechsler on Vanguard American Sculpture: 1913-39 (Rutgers UniversityArt Gallery, 1979).23 In 1980, Patricia Hills and I assessed the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art—her on painting, me on sculpture—for The Figurative Tradition and American Art, an exhibition and catalogue issued to celebrate the museum’s fiftieth anniversary. Unforgettable are the days I spent in Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s sculpture studio on this project, reading archives that not only documented her sculpture career but also her patronage of American sculptors.24 Later, but in the same spirit, I derived rich insights from collaborations and dialogues with in-house curators on such exhibitions as Robert Laurent and American Figurative Sculpture, 1910-1960 (David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 1994) with Richard A. Born; The Human Figure in American Sculpture: The Question of Modernity, 1890-1945 (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995), with Ilene Susan Fort; Rodin and America: Influence and Adaptation, 1876-1936 (Cantor Art Center, Stanford University, 2011), with Bernard Barryte; and A New American Sculpture: Laurent, Lachaise, Nadelman and Zorach (Portland [Maine] Art Museum, 2017), with Andrew Eschelbacher and Shirley Reece-Hughes.25

When a museum has a curator of American Sculpture, the field benefits. For example, Karen Lemmey, curator of sculpture at SAAM—who currently has two long-term exhibitions on view, Measured Perfection: Hiram Powers’ Greek Slave and Direct Carving (both opened 2015)—also facilitated two recent solo exhibitions at SAAM, Martin Puryear: Multiple Dimensions (2016) and Isamu Noguchi, Archaic/Modern (2016-17). Thayer Tolles, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the only other dedicated curator of American sculpture, has similarly contributed immensely to the scholarship about and exhibition of American sculpture. She co-wrote the sculpture collection catalogue (1999 and 2000) and books about bronze sculptures of the American West (2010 and 2014), curated “Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art” (2009), and reinstalled the Charles Engelhard Court in the American wing in 2009.26 All curators of sculpture understand that their exhibitions are more expensive and difficult to organize, fund, travel, and install than those of two-dimensional works of art.

Every person assessing the history of art has recognized that sculpture has fewer scholars, publications, and exhibitions than painting. Just as art historians evolved in their treatment of American sculpture during the last fifty years, just so sculpture itself changed dramatically from the 1960s to the present. Kirk Savage declared that because contemporary art makes few distinctions between painting and sculpture, “Old-fashioned sculpture . . . has been obsolete for a long time.”27 Before the twentieth century, figurative sculpture was synthesized from clay (baked in a kiln to become terra cotta), cut from solid blocks of wood or stone, or cast in plaster or bronze. Early twentieth-century avant-garde sculptors constructed sculptures from disparate elements and pioneered abstract objects and conceptual works. By the end of the century, sculpture could be multi-media installations of materials as widely diverse as scrap metal, detritus, live flora and fauna, light, video, sound, electronic monitors, and bodily fluids. Ecosculptures—works created outdoors from flotsam, jetsam, and debris—usually carry social messages for the remediation of industrial sites or for the cleanup of neglected shores. Alex Potts distinguished between object-oriented modernists who “fetishized the autonomy of the art work” and installation-oriented postmodernists who created encounters “staged between viewer and work and the resulting interplay operating at a phenomenological level between focused and dispersed apprehension.”28

The definitions of America, sculpture, and art history have evolved during the last fifty years. New theories, technologies, methodologies and archival resources have changed the ways that we think, research and write. New generations of scholars will mine the collective scholarship on American sculpture and then pose new questions. No new comprehensive and synthetic history of American sculpture has been published in nearly fifty years and I know of no one who wishes to answer that challenge.

Image: Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, Portrait of a Sculptor (also Monument to a Sculptor), c. 1909, bronze, 14 x 9 x 5 1/2 inches. Photo: Mark Ostrander, courtesy of Conner – Rosenkranz, NY.

PDF: Tarbell 50 Years

Notes:

  1. For comprehensive historiographies of American art, with very few references to sculpture, see (in chronological order): Elizabeth Johns, “Scholarship in American Art: Its History and Recent Developments,” American Studies International 22, no. 2 (October 1984): 3-40; Wanda Corn, “Coming of Age: Historical Scholarship in American Art,” Art Bulletin 70, no. 2 (June 1988): 188–207; and John Davis, “The End of the American Century: Current Scholarship on the Art of the United States,” Art Bulletin 85, no. 3 (September 2003): 544–80.
  2. Wayne Craven, Sculpture in America (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1968).
  3. After years of additional research, my essay, “The Impact of the Armory Show on American Sculpture,” appeared in the Archives of American Art Journal 18, no. 2 (January 1978): 2-ll. My M.A. thesis, “John Storrs and Max Weber: Early Life and Work,” advised by William Innes Homer, continued research into the insights uncovered in the seminar paper.
  4. The following refer to doctoral dissertations completed at the University of Delaware: Marjorie Pingel Balge, “William Ordway Partridge (1861-1930): American Art Critic and Sculptor” (1982); George Gurney, “Olin Levi Warner (1844-1896): A Catalogue Raisonné of His Sculpture and Graphic Works” (1978); Joan M. Marter, “Alexander Calder: The Formative Years” (1974); Eric Scott McCready, “The Nebraska State Capitol: its Design, Background, and Influence” (1979); Michael Richman, “The Early Career of Daniel Chester French, 1869-1891” (1974); Lewis Inman Sharp, “A Catalogue of the Works of the American Sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, 1830-1910” (1980); Pamela H. Simpson, “The Sculpture of Charles Grafly” (1974); and Roberta K. Tarbell, “Catalogue Raisonné of William Zorach’s Carved Sculpture” (1976).
  5. Fairmount Park Art Association, Sculpture of a City: Philadelphia’s Treasures in Bronze and Stone (New York: Walker Publishing Co., Inc., 1974); James M. Goode, The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C.: A Comprehensive Historical Guide (Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1974); and Lewis I. Sharp, New York City Public Sculpture by 19th-century American Artists (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1974).
  6. Starting in 1955, museums with strong holdings of sculptures depicting cowboys, pioneers, and Native Americans opened in regional centers. Around 1970, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas began publishing scholarly catalogues and books on Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, and other Western artists and themes. Patricia Janis Broder’s monumental Bronzes of the American West (New York: H. N. Abrams, 1974) and her American Indian Painting & Sculpture (New York: Abbeville Press, 1981) are early treatises on the subjects.
  7. Woman’s Art Journal, founded in 1980, continues with significant attention to sculptors. Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein’s American Sculptors: A History of Women Working in Three Dimensions (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1990) included Native American and African American artists.
  8. One of the goals of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Grants, which foster collaboration between universities and museums through funding for graduate students (e.g., University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Museum of Art), is to attract minority, low-income, and first-generation students: groups underrepresented in the field of art history.
  9. Renée Ater, Remaking Race and History: The Sculpture of Meta Warrick Fuller (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011); Kirsten Pai Buick, Child of the Fire: Mary Edmonia Lewis and the Problem of Art History’s Black and Indian Subject (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010); Charmaine Nelson, The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007); and Margaret Rose Vendryes, Barthé: A Life in Sculpture (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2008).
  10. This interdisciplinary program, which started in 1952, is now called The Winterthur Program in American Material Culture.
  11. See Jules Prown, Art as Evidence: Writings on Art and Material Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002) and “Reflections on Teaching American Art History,” Panorama 2, no. 1 (Summer 2016): http://journalpanorama.org/reflections-on-teaching-american-art-history/.
  12. Alexander Nemerov, Frederic Remington and Turn-of-the-Century America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995) and Mammoth Scale: The Anatomical Sculptures of William Rush, 2002–2003 (Philadelphia: Wistar Institute, 2002).
  13.  See Alan Wallach, “On the Social History of American Art,” in A Companion to American Art, eds., John A. Davis, Jennifer A. Greenhill, and Jason D. LaFountain (Malden MA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 2015): 71-84.
  14. Michele H. Bogart, Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal in New York City, 1890-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989); Melissa Dabakis, Visualizing Labor in American Sculpture: Monuments, Manliness, and the Work Ethic, 1880-1935 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999); Erika Doss, Spirit Poles and Flying Pigs: Public Art and Cultural Democracy in American Communities (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press,1995); Kirk Savage, Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race, War, and Monument in Nineteenth-Century America (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1997); Savage, Monument Wars: Washington, D.C.: the National Mall, and the Transformation of the Memorial Landscape (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009); and Jennifer Wingate, Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013).

    Bogart’s Public Sculpture and the Civic Ideal and Savage’s Monument Wars are two of the twenty-eight winners of the Charles C. Eldredge Prize for outstanding scholarship in American art. Amy Lyford’s Isamu Noguchi’s Modernism: Negotiating Race, Labor, and Nation, 1930-1950 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013); and Richard P. Wunder’s Hiram Powers: Vermont Sculptor (Taftsville, VT: Countryman Press, 1974) are the two other prize recipients whose books are about sculpture history.

  15. Beatrice Gilman Proske, William H. Gerdts, J. Carson Webster, Craven, Sharp, John H. Dryfhout, and Michael Richman were the authors. In recent years the University of Delaware broadened the perspectives of its symposia beyond the United States, and SAAM, the Wyeth and Terra Foundations, and the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), and many universities present recent scholarship in symposia that regularly include sculpture.
  16. Mona Hadler and Joan M. Marter, “Sculpture in Postwar Europe and America, 1945-59,” special issue, Art Journal 53, no. 4 (Winter 1994).
  17. Joan M. Marter, ed., The Grove Encyclopedia of American Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
  18. Frances K. Pohl, Framing America: A Social History of American Art (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2002); David Bjelajac, American Art: A Cultural History (New York: H. N. Abrams, 2001); and Angela L. Miller, Janet C. Berlo, Bryan J. Wolf, and Jennifer L. Roberts, American Encounters: Art, History, and Cultural Identity (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2008).
  19. Gerdts also published American Neo-Classical Sculpture: The Marble Resurrection (New York: Viking, 1973) among his dozens of books on American painting and wrote the introduction to Nicolai Cikovsky, The White Marmorean Flock: Nineteenth-Century American Women Neo-Classical Sculptors (Poughkeepsie, NY: Vassar College Art Gallery, 1972).
  20. Albert TenEyck Gardner, American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1965). With 354 works, this was the first catalogue of a museum’s holdings of American sculpture.
  21.  Beatrice Gilman Proske, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture (Brookgreen Gardens, South Carolina, 1943 and 1968); Kathryn Greenthal, Paula M. Kozol, Jan Seidler Ramirez and Jonathan L. Fairbanks, Figurative Sculpture in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1986); Robin R. Salmon, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture (Murrells Inlet, SC: Brookgreen Gardens, 1993);  Susan James Gadzinski and Mary Mullen Cunningham,  American Sculpture in the Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia: Museum of American Art of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1997);  Donna J. Hassler, Lauretta Dimmick, and Thayer Tolles, American Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Vol. 1: A Collection of Works by Artists Born before 1865,  Thayer Tolles, ed. (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999); Donna J. Hassler, Joan M. Marter, and Thayer Tolles, American Sculpture in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Vol. 2: A Catalogue of Works by Artists Born between 1865 and 1885, Thayer Tolles, ed., (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000); and David Finn, and Susan Joy Slack, Sculpture at the Corcoran (Washington, D.C.: Corcoran Gallery of Art, 2002).
  22. Roberta K. Tarbell, Marguerite Zorach, the Early Years (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1973); Tarbell and Janet Flint, Peggy Bacon: Personalities and Places (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1975); and Tarbell, Hugo Robus, 1885-1964 (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1980).
  23. William Innes Homer, Avant-Garde Painting & Sculpture in America 1910-25 (Wilmington: Delaware Art Museum, 1975); and Joan M. Marter, Roberta K. Tarbell, and Jeffrey Wechsler, Vanguard American Sculpture: 1913-1939 (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Art Gallery, 1979).
  24. Over thirty linear feet of archives, which then were in the  elegant Beaux-Arts style studio she had built on the Whitney family estate in Old Westbury, Long Island, were donated to AAA, SI in 1981 and 1991. For the first time ever I saw bronze casts of her small realist sculptures which sat on ledges over the fireplace on one twenty-foot-high wall.  See Tarbell, “Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney as Patron,” in Patricia Hills and Roberta K. Tarbell, The Figurative Tradition and the Whitney Museum of American Art (Newark DE: University of Delaware Press, 1980) and Janis Conner and Joel Rosenkranz, Rediscoveries in American Sculpture: Studio Works, 1893-1939 (Austin: Univ. of Texas Press, 1989).
  25. Roberta K. Tarbell. Robert Laurent and American Figurative Sculpture, 1910-1960 (Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 1994); The Human Figure in American Sculpture: The Question of Modernity, 1890-1945, Ilene Susan Fort, ed. (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1995),  Rodin and America: Influence and Adaptation, 1876-1936, Bernard Barryte and Tarbell, eds. (Cantor Art Center, Stanford University, 2011)  and A New American Sculpture: Laurent, Lachaise, Nadelman and Zorach, Andrew Eschelbacher, ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2017).
  26. Tolles et al., Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century (Western Passages) (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2010); Tolles and Thomas B. Smith, The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2014);  Tolles, “Augustus Saint-Gaudens in The Metropolitan Museum of Art,” The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 66 (Spring 2009); and Tolles, “Perspectives on Exhibiting Historic American Sculpture,” American Art 24, no 1 (Spring 2010): 18.
  27. Kirk Savage, “The Obsolescence of Sculpture,” American Art 24, no. 1 (Spring 2010): 9.
  28. Alex Potts, “Installation and Sculpture,” Oxford Art Journal 24, no. 2 (2001): 7. Potts’s essay was part of a special issue, “On Installation.” In his book, The Sculptural Imagination: Figurative, Modernist, Minimalist (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000), Potts analyzed the evolution of concepts of sculpture from modernist detached objects to minimalist assumptions, to phenomenological theoretical approaches, and to sculpture as performance. See also Jon Wood, David Hulks, and Alex Potts, eds., Modern Sculpture Reader (Leeds: Henry Moore Institute, 2007).