PRINT November 1982


RELIEF HAS OFTEN SEEMED to waste away in ambivalence between painting, at least painting “proper,” and any “true” sculpture. Minimalism, however, called the question on the contrived dominance of conventional freestanding sculpture—something that Charles Baudelaire and Alberto Giacometti, not just Robert Morris and other contemporaries, had already criticized. By default, relief has generally been left close—if never quite close enough—to the condition of painting, and thus compromised or “impure”; at best. it could submit to architectural subordination. Besides, in and of itself, relief seemed categorically weak, something compositional and at least to some extent planar that had as it were to lean on materiality. Notwithstanding the complexity of Hegel’s qualifications—sculpture seeming to cut loose from a dependence on the inorganic/architectural—painting was supposedly all mind;

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