los-angeles

John McCracken

Since his early association with the Los Angeles finish-fetish group in the mid ’60s, John McCracken has always been seen in terms of contradictory esthetics. On one hand, his sculptures’ reductive geometries, serial arrangements, and contingent relationship to both viewer and surrounding space have aligned him with Minimalism. On the other hand, the works’ highly reflective surfaces, their reduction of material properties to pure color, and the interplay of form and exterior light have encouraged transcendental readings, as if Minimalism’s materialism were merely a smoke screen for “spiritual” concerns with an irreducible totality.

The problem with both interpretations is that they tend to stress the different phenomenological functions of an already suspect Modernist formalism and overlook the pure pleasure and retinal play inherent in McCracken’s objects. This is particularly evident in

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