Last Saturday, curator and Artforum editor-at-large Jack Bankowsky moderated a roundtable on “Sculpture after Sculpture” (more on the title in a moment) at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, in anticipation of his forthcoming three-artist survey of the same name at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm this October. The three artists, Katharina Fritsch, Jeff Koons, and Charles Ray, are united by work that is, in Bankowsky’s words, “pointedly figural, quotidian in reference, and resolutely sculptural”; work that, when it emerged in the 1970s, was “all but unimaginable as the shape of serious art to come.” Thus the organizing question for the roundtable: How did we get to the point that figural sculpture seems viable and significant again?
The “what’s changed” as suggested by Bankowsky includes minimalism, industrial production, and the legacy of the readymade; but the speakers, who each gave a ten minute talk devoted to an “epiphany, quandary, or suspicion” that these three artists raised, focused as much on economic, political, and technological changes as on art history. The roundtable might have been better named “Production after Production.”
The panelists themselves formed a forceful and not unpolemical group: sculptor Charles Ray himself; Whitney curator Scott Rothkopf, (who is currently working on the first American museum restrospective on Koons’ art); Isabelle Graw, critic and founder of Texte Zur Kunst; Michelle Kuo, Editor-in-chief of Artforum (who previous collaborated with Rothkopf on a special issue devoted to artistic production); and critic and art historian Michael Fried. What follows is a summary of each of their ten-minute talks.