Laura Ruby

Spring 2008 

ART 359(W)
Sculpture -- Contemporary
Binoculars, 1991 -- Claes Oldenburg

I. The Nature of Sculpture -- Form, Function, Content, Context

II. Duchamp and Postmodern Pluralism
III. Postmodern Pluralism
IV. Environmental Commentary
V. Sculptural Environments/Tableau/Installations
VI. Time-Based Commentary and the Artist's Body in the World
VII. Virtually Wired Gestures, Actions, Events
Readings and Writings

COURSE DESCRIPTION -- this course will contextualize late 20th/early 21st century sculptural practice, including stylistic and theoretical frameworks, with references to the influences of various historical Western and Asian traditions and the apply this knowledge in the creation of contemporary scuplture.


COURSE OBJECTIVES --to foster an appreciation and understanding of contemporary Western sculpture, in relationship to technological innovation and the historical and cultural factors affecting its development and to create contemporary site-based artworks, installation sculptures and performances.


PREREQUISITES --116 and 172 or 176 or consent of instructor


Student Learning Outcomes for Art

1) To develop fundamental skills and concepts relative to the practice of art.

2) To develop an understanding and appreciation of the tradition which formed our present approach to the visual arts.

3) To develop the ability to analyze the merits of art works and develop informed opinions applicable to the broad range of human cultural production.

4) To develop specific skills and knowledge of a medium(s) to be utilized as a means of visual communication and self expression

5) To encourage the development of new approaches, methodologies and philosophies of art as well as the understanding of traditional modes and paradigms.


lectures and readings will complement each other
*Art on the Edge and Over -- Linda Weintraub (required text)
*Sculpture in the Age of Doubt -- Thomas McEvilley (optional text)
*Beyond Modern Sculpture -- Jack Burnham (selected handouts)
*Sculpture Since 1945 -- Andrew Causey (selected handouts)
*From Margin to Center: The Spaces of Installation Art -- Julie H. Reiss (selected handouts)
*Contemporary Public Sculpture -- Harriet Senie (selected handouts)
*other handouts
-What is represented?
-What kinds of relationships are shown?
-What elements seem particularly significant?
-What associations come to mind?
-How is the artwork composed?
-How do all of the above components function in relation to one another?
- Look at the beginning and end of the reading to see if the author summarizes the main point(s).
- Make a list of terms/ideas that are not clear.
- Include one question to ask of the class. This question should arise from the readings or from the readings in conjunction with previous discussions. Email those questions to
The topics of each discussion will be approached through a selection of readings. Students are expected to come fully prepared for active and informed participation in the discussions. Be prepared to share your lists or writing in small group discussions, and in the larger class format. Your paper should be typed double-spaced and stamped on the discussion day. You will be discussion leader for 1 of the GREAT DEBATE topics.
Your writing will be both visual and verbal. What argument do you wish to make and how is it supported? What visual, historical, and theoretical information will you include?) Your statement should include an artwork example (xeroxed or scanned) that supports your position for your GREAT DEBATE discussion.

Informal Great Debates include:

1. modern vs. postmodern
2. Duchamp's Legacy

Written and presented Great Debates include:

1. Site-based artist's work

2. Installation artist's work

3. Performance artist's work

PRESENTATION OF 3 PROPOSALS -- 30% of the grade
  • 1. Site-based Sculpture Proposal
  • 2. Installation Sculpture Proposal
  • 3. Performance or Cyber Event Proposal

CREATION OF ARTWORKS -- 30% of the grade

  • 1 Site-based Sculpture
  • or
  • 2 Installation Sculptures
  • or 1 Installation Scullpture and 1 Performance or Cyber Event
ARCHIVE -- 5% of the grade
This archive will be a collection of 20 contemporary sculpture images (presented on unlined 8 1/2 x 11 paper in a manila envelope or secured in a folder -- this archive might also presented in video or Powerpoint format).


This includes: attendance, punctuality, class interaction in great debates, emailing and office visit. This course requires full attendance. Visual concepts are often only understood after sharing, comparing, questioning, revising and synthesizing, as well as LISTENING. A tardy or absent student diminishes the overall quality of the class. Three tardies will equal one unexcused absence. Three unexcused absences will lower the final grade.
Please turn off all cell phones, beepers and pagers before entering the classroom.

I. Nature of Contemporary Sculpture--A. form, B. function, C. content, D. context BACK TO TOP


WEEK 1 -- Form, Function, Content, Context
1A *Sculpture Since 1945 -- Causey
1B *Value in an Age of Chaos -- McEvilley
1C *Sculpture...Doubt -- McEvilley, ch. 2. to p. 42


GREAT DEBATE #1 -- modern vs. postmodern artworks; aesthetic canon vs. pluralist values


GREAT DEBATE #2 --transformative potential -- the site and human interaction


GREAT DEBATE #3 -- particularity of time and place: the location; universal vs. site-specific


A. Form
1. Types of sculptural form--realistic--abstract--nonobjective
a. visual elements and principles of design--emphasis on time
2. Sculpture as artifact or object--existing in the world
a. portable
b. pedestal/fixed
1) within museum or gallery pedestal/
2) notion of distance/physical
3) isolation=psychological distance/apartness
4) Rodin comments
5) Brancusi ornate geometric pedestals
c. place-specific site-based pedestal-less
d. temporary and or moveable
1) installation
2) performance time-based
3. Sculpture as functional
a. as shamanistic/religious
b. as commemorative/memorial/monumental/portrait
c. as commodity
d. as non-commodity--environmental art/installations/performances, etc., fixed to site or temporary in nature
4. Sculpture as process--sculpture as a primary activity
a. methodology
1) perceptual
2) experiential
3) conceptual (& modelmaking and drawings)
4) style
b. media/matter/physical nature/technique applied to matter
1) modeling
2) carving
3) casting
4) assembling--constructing--linking, bringing together of parts
5) selection/manipulation/exploitation/technical innovation
6) attention to site
5. Sculpture as an evolution of form -- the Modern tradition
a. classical abstraction --Brancusi
b. constructivism -- Gabo, Pevsner, Tatlin, Lipchitz
c. expressionism (corresponds to abstract expressionist painting) -- Cesar, Stankiewicz, Chamberlain, Voulkos
d. minimalism -- sculpture as a series of erasures -- Judd, LeWitt, Flavin
e. conceptualism -- sculpture as idea -- Kosuth, Kawara, Buren
B. Function
C. Content
D. Context
Fountain, 1917 -- Marcel Duchamp

II. Duchamp and postmodern pluralism BACK TO TOP

WEEK 2 -- Duchamp and Postmodern Pluralism
2A *Duchamp-Sculpture...Doubt -- ch. 3
2B *The Transformed Object -- Ratcliff


GREAT DEBATE #4 -- of something" vs. an object; the medium



A. art coefficient
B. readymades
Spiral Jetty, 1970 -- Robert Smithson
Running Fence, 1972-6 -- Christo



Storm King Rock Wall , c.2007 -- Andy Goldsworthy

III. Postmodern pluralism BACK TO TOP

WEEK 2-3 -- Postmodern Pluralism
3A *Sculpture...Doubt -- ch. 2
3B *Memorials and Monuments Reconsidered -- Senie
3C *Interplay in Expanded Fields -- Ruby
3D Dennis Oppenheim -- ch. 5
3 opt. Contemporary Public Sculpture--Intro. -- Senie

GREAT DEBATE #5 -- presentation -- site-based artworks by 1 artist or artist team--from the book or other sources




IV. Environmental commentary BACK TO TOP

WEEK 3 -- Environmental Commentary
4A *Public Spaces -- Causey




WEEK 4 -- Contemporary Public Art
PRESENTATIONS -- public artwork proposals


A. public art -- Smithson, Heiser, deMaria, Christo, Morris, Andre, Serra, Irwin, Dennis Oppenheim (ch. 5), Sonfist
B. contemporary public art -- Sian Armajani, Miss, Aycock, Holt, Chin (ch. 16), Irwin, Serra, Tacha, Simonds, Long, Matta-Clark, George Trakas, SITE, Charles Moore, Frank Gehry, Maya Lin, Douglas Hollis, Ned Smyth, Jackie Ferrara, Andrea Blum

"Subway" (from Ruckus Manhattan), 1976-- Red Grooms




V. Sculptural environments/tableau/installations BACK TO TOP

WEEK 5 -- Sculptural Environments/Tableau
5A Beuys and Germany -- Causey
5B Joseph Beuys -- Weintraub
5C David Hammons -- Weintraub
5D Christian Boltanski -- Weintraub
5E Lucas Samaras -- ch. 7
5F Fred Wilson -- Mining the Museum
other articles


GREAT DEBATE #6 -- presentation -- installation artworks by 1 artist or artist team--from the book or other sourcespermanent vs. temporary




WEEK 6 -- Contemporary Installation Sculpture

Egg and Art


A. temporary works -- Oldenburg, Kienholz, Grooms, Hesse, Beuys

WEEK 7 -- Contemporary Installation Sculpture
Presentations of Installation Sculpture Proposals


B. time-based commentary--Terrell, Irwin, Nancy Graves, Butterfield, Antoni, Paik, Viola
Fox Games, 1989 -- Sandy Skoglund
Mining the Museum, 1992 -- Fred Wilson
China Night, 1985 -- Terry Allen
C. contemporary installation sculpture--Samaras (ch. 7), Nauman, Abromovic (ch. 10), Mario Merz, Shapiro, Ericson & Ziegler, Boltanski, Hammons, Chicago, Pfaff, Skoglund, Fred Martin, Terry Allen

WEEK 8/9/10 -- Contemporary Installation Sculpture
Create Public Site-based Artworks and Installation Sculptures


Trompe L'oiel




VI. Time-based commentary and the artist's body in the world BACK TO TOP

WEEK 11 -- Time-based Commentary and the Artist's Body in the World
6A Fluxis & happenings
6B Vito Acconci -- Weintraub
6C Carolee Schneemann--Weintraub
6D Marina Abramovic -- ch. 10
6E Gilbert & George -- Weintraub
6F James Luna -- Weintraub




WEEK 12 -- Contemporary Performances and Body Processes


A. tableau vivant/happenings--Kaprow, Oldenburg, Fluxus
I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974 -- Joseph Beuys
Hand/Heart for Ana Mendieta, 1986 -- Carolee Schneeman
B. contemporary performances/body processes--Beuys, Schneeman, L. Anderson, Gilbert & George, Acconci, Burden, Finley, Abromovic (ch. 10), Betsy Damon
VII. Virtually wired gestures, actions, events BACK TO TOP

WEEK 13 -- Virtually Wired Gestures, Actions, Events
7 opt. Postcolonial Media Theory -- Fernandez



WEEK 14 -- Presentations of Performance Proposals or Virtually Wired Gestures, Actions, Events







Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, 1997 -- Frank Gehry


Abromovic, Marina
Acconci, Vito
Anderson, Laurie
Andre, Carl
Antoni, Janine
Armajani, Sian
Arneson, Robert
Arp, Jean
Aycock, Alice
Baldoccini, Cesar
Bell, Larry
BenTre, Howard
Berlant, Tony
Bertoia, Harry
Beuys, Joseph
Blum, Andrea
Boccioni, Umberto
Bochner, Mel
Boltanski, Christian
Borofsky, Jonathan
Bourgeois, Louise
Brancusi, Constantin
Broodthaers, Marcel
Buck, John
Burden, Chris
Buren, Daniel
Butterfield, Deborah
Calder, Alexander
Caro, Anthony
Chamberlain, John
Chicago, Judy
Chin, Mel
Conner, Bruce
Cornell, Joseph
Cragg, Tony
Croak, James
Damon, Betsy
de St. Phalle, Niki
DeAndrea, John
DeStabler, Stephen
DiSuvero, Mark
Drew, Leonard
Dubuffet, Jean
Duchamp, Marcel
Ericson, Kate/Ziegler, Mel
Ferrara, Jackie
Finley, Karen
Flavin, Dan
Gabo, Naum
Gallo, Frank
Gehry, Frank
Giacometti, Alberto
Gilbert & George
Goldsworthy, Andy
Gonzalez, Julio
Gormley, Antony
Graves, Nancy
Grooms, Red
Guerilla Girls
Haacke, Hans
Hammons, David
Hanson, Duane
Harrison, Helen & Newton
Heiser, Michael
Hepworth, Barbara
Hesse, Eva
Hollis, Douglas
Holt, Nancy
Irwin, Robert
Johns, Jasper
Judd, Donald
Kapoor, Anish
Kaprow, Alan
Kawara, On
Kienholz, Ed
Klein, Yves
Koons, Jeff
Kosuth, Joseph
Kounellis, Jannis
Lachaise, Gaston
Laib, Wolfgang
LeWitt, Sol
Liberman, Alexander
Lin, Maya
Lipchitz, Jacques
Long, Richard
Longo, Robert
Man Ray
Manzoni, Piero
Matta-Clark, Gordon
Merg, Gerhard
Merz, Mario
Miss, Mary
Moholy-Nagy, Laszlo
Moore, Charles
Moore, Henry
Morris, Robert
Nauman, Bruce
Nevelson, Louise
Noguchi, Isamu
Oldenburg, Claes
Oppenheim, Dennis
Oppenheim, Meret
Orr, Eric
Paik, Nam June
Pevsner, Antoine
Pfaff, Judy
Picasso, Pablo
Poirier, Ann & Patrick
Rauschenberg, Robert
Rickey, George
Rodin, Auguste
Samaras, Lucas
Schneeman, Carolee
Schwitters, Kurt
Segal, George
Serra, Richard
Shapiro, Joel
Simonds, Charles
Smith, David
Smith, Tony
Smithson, Robert
Smyth, Ned
Snellson, Kenneth
Soldner, Paul
Sonfist, Alan
Stackhouse, Robert
Stankiewicz, Richard
Sterbak, Jana
Sugarman, George
Tacha, Athena
Tatlin, Vladimir
Terrell, James
Tinguely, Jean
Tracy, Michael
Trakas, George
Trova, Ernest
Vaisman, Meyer
Viola, Bill
Volkos, Peter

Warhol, Andy

Wilson, Fred


Laura Ruby
Department of Art, Room 348
2535 The Mall
University of Hawai'i
Honolulu, Hawai'i 96822
(808) - 956-5250