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On Being Sculpture

AS SCULPTURE, MOWRY BADEN’S work is nowhere. It lacks elegance, sublety, and the lure of visual involvement. His forms have neither the fey ugliness of Funk nor the austerity of early Object Art. Moreover, I doubt if Baden is making sculpture––or playing any of the arrangement games (painted, pasted, positioned, or dropped) meant exclusively for the eye.

If anything, Baden’s efforts are limited environmental systems, considerably less complicated technically, but akin to the life support simulations used in space programs. Both have the job of telling their participants how they are doing under specific conditions. Like furniture, Baden’s devices are primarily for use rather than for looks.

Also it is important to remember that most modern abstractionist movements have rejected their predecessors on the grounds of anthropomorphism. This has consistently undercut the humanistic intention of

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