PRINT April 1976

Notes on Small Sculpture

THROUGHOUT THE MODERN PERIOD, small sculpture has been tainted with connotations of preciosity, luxury, unearned privilege and even secrecy. In the conflict between the artist and the world (which is often represented by the patron), small sculpture can take on the look of a capitulation: to produce small objects, it is assumed, is to claim no power for oneself or for art. Yet one thinks immediately of exceptions to this attitude. Giacometti’s small figures are respected, as are Cornell’s boxes and Picasso’s Glass of Absinthe. Modernist theory and practice, in all its pluralism, has both sustained inherited doubts about smallness and found ways to overcome them. Small sculpture was provided with support when, for example, Medaro Rosso, Rodin, Matisse and Picasso transposed pictorial innovations from two to three dimensions while, very often, holding the size of their works within limits

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