An abridged art history of sculpture and installation

Week 2

In last week’s lecture, I showed a selection of artwork that was mostly sculptural or installation-based, but that related specifically to the mapping project that I was assigning. This week, I want to step back a little bit and take a broader look at some of the more important work (and artists) in interactive sculpture and installation that leads up where we are today.


Can anyone tell me what this is?

We’re not going to spend too much time on the origins of sculpture, other than to point out that it has a strong origin, which is still what informs many people’s perception of what sculpture is today. It’s also important to point out the Eurocentricity of this view. There is a lot of interesting sculptural work from all around the world that doesn’t necessarily get coverage in general art history classes in Europe and North America.

Expanding the definition of sculpture

We’re going to paper over the differences between a lot of different European sculptural movements – and there are differences, just not ones that we’re particularly interested in for this course – and skip to the early 20th century to when the sculpture began to mean things other than the creation of an object through the process of sculpting it.

The Guitar (1912)

Does anyone know who created this and which collection it is in?

Fountain (1917)

Of course, art is often about taking an idea to its logical extreme. As soon as Picasso (and others) began to make sculpture out of non-traditional materials, along comes Marcel Duchamp to declare that pretty well anything can be (is?) sculpture.

Sculpture that moves

Red, Blue and Black Cascade (1974)

Alexander Calder is famous for, among other things, creating mobiles which were some of the first kinetic sculptures.


Theo Jansen has been making the round on YouTube (he also has a TED Talk) with his giant Strandbeests.

Machine with Wishbone

Arthur Ganson is the inheritor of some of the wire art that you started to see with Calder.

Machine with Concrete


Magic Carpet


Sculpture that responds

Potent Objects (2003)


From Me To You (2007)


Installation: Immersive Sculpture

Lost in the Memory Place (2014)


Hylozoic Ground (2010)