PRINT December 1966

Lloyd Hamrol’s “Multiples”

LLOYD HAMROL’S NEW SCULPTURE, exhibited at the Rolf Nelson Gallery, Los Angeles, consists of nine identical pieces constructed and displayed in such a manner that the spectator is able to systematically explore the variety of shapes the work is capable of assuming. When not required, these expandable and retractable sculptures can be folded and stored away; thus, instead of being stable objects of contemplation these new works are, in fact, “do-it-your self” sculpture kits limited to the parameters of space pre-set and built-in by the artist. Although the work appears to be related to the range of sculpture recently shown in the Jewish Museum’s Primary Structures exhibition, there is no apparent intention to set up either a serial image situation or spatial connections between the pieces and the environment. These nine sculptures are clearly multiples and, as such, are exhibited in a wide variety of different positions.

Constructed upon the same basic principle as the type of mass-produced wooden carpenter’s ruler which can be folded into a simple rectangle or unfolded and extended into a straight ruler, the intermediate positions between the folded and fully extended assume significance. Each sculpture is composed of five identical arms which are two-and-a-half feet long and six inches wide and deep. The five arms are held together by the bolting of alternate pairs at opposite ends with a friction joint which permits a traverse of 360 degrees on any one plane. The pressure exerted by the swivel joints is sufficient to maintain the arms, despite their bulk and weight, in any intermediate position with very little torque or drift out of alignment. The pieces are constructed of pine and covered on all surfaces by a dark elephant-grey formica which completely conceals the swivel joint from view. Weight and size were determined by ease of handling for the average adult, a smaller size appearing too toylike and a larger size too clumsy. Extremely well made, these anaxial sculptures can be configured into a wide variety of eccentric or symmetrical forms, and when opened the arms tend to carve lineally into space.

There is no reason to castigate Hamrol for attempting to deal with the problem of spectator participation; though the work runs the risk of descending to the level of playthings, it is not this aspect that is troublesome. In contrast with a number of sculptors working in a similar vein, Hamrol’s work is dull. Donald Judd and Robert Morris, for example, both raise more questions in their sculpture than they answer. Hamrol, on the other hand, solves every question he raises, and, in comparison to Larry Bell or John McCracken, who also work in very similar terms but whose sculpture always consists of a highly elegant solution to the problems posed, Hamrol’s work looks insipid. One is forced to distrust the implications contained within his work because of his lack of an aggressive solution.

John Coplans