“Real World”

Modern Art Oxford

There’s a strong sense of “back to the future” about “Real World,” a showcase for six contemporary sculptors, mostly in their thirties and all working in a wide variety of media. The exhibition “considers what sculpture might be at the beginning of the twenty-first century,” but its subtitle, “The Dissolving Space of Experience,” makes one wonder if anything much has changed. After all, the idea that modern sculpture is centrally concerned with dissolution or “dematerialization” has been around for decades.

First of all, let’s set the record straight. The dematerialization of the art object never happened; or rather, it has been infinitely less important than defamiliarization. The disavowal of marble and bronze and the pilgrimage to “poor” and peripheral materials has largely been an attempt to maintain the authenticity and spontaneity of the art experience. Many modern artists, including

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