By Jack Burnham

An research into the impression of technology and know-how on smooth sculpture via Jack Burnham. Artists comprise Edgar Degas, Medardo Rosso, Umberto Boccioni, Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, Naum Gabo, Alexander Calder, Richard Lippold, David von Schlegell, Harry Bertoia, Antoine Pevsner and others.

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Sample text

This model for a monument consists of a row of triangular planes making contact with the ground on one edge and one point, though the edge is raised a quarter of an inch to preserve the autonomy of the model. This hovering quality disappeared from later works as Pevsner pursued a more baroque conception. Interior space subsequently did not imply airiness and suspension; rather it invited the eye to move perpendicularly over curved and ambiguous planes of bronze. Though intent on freeing his works from the ground plane, the Constructivist sculptor usually refrained from simply suspending his constructions from an overhead wire.

All objects, thereby, could be considered sculpture; a popularization which has turned modern sculpture away from the base as a means of identification. If the base was rendered meaningless-both physically and psychically-sculpture could only regain meaning free of its confines. While practical and aesthetic questions of mounting sculpture have confronted artists for thousands of years, it is revealing how little attention the problem receives in historical texts and technical treatises. Except for certain arbitrary proportional canons, the base has remained a minor detail of the craft.

His Fusion ofa Head and Window (1912), with its awkward assembly of parts, is one of the earliest efforts in this direction. The assem blage consists of a real window sash without glass panes, penetrated by a sheath of wooden sun rays more substantial than the carved head they illuminate. The result is a futile attempt to introduce ephemeral environment; plastically the work is too chaotic and simplistic to justify the high aims of the manifesto. In Development of a Bottle in Space (FIG. 6), Boccioni comes closer to 6.

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