Eccentric Objects Rethinking Sculpture in 1960s America Jo Applin

Publication date:
14 Sep 2012
Yale University Press
176 pages: 254 x 190mm
40 color + 38 b-w illus.
Sales territories:


In America during the 1960s, sculpture as an artistic practice underwent a series of radical transformations. Artists including Lee Bontecou, Claes Oldenburg, Lucas Samaras, H. C. Westermann, and Bruce Nauman offered alternative ways of imagining the three-dimensional object. The objects they created were variously described as erotic, soft, figurative, aggressive, bodily, or, in the words of the critic Lucy Lippard, "eccentric."

Looking beyond the familiar and canonic artworks of the 1960s, the book challenges not only how we think about these artists, but how we learn to look at the more familiar narratives of 1960s sculpture, such as Pop and Minimalism. Ambivalent and disruptive, the work of this decade articulated a radical renegotiation—rejection, even—of contemporary paradigms of sculptural practice. This invigorating study explores that shift and the ways in which the kinds of work made in this period defied established categories and questioned the criteria for thinking about sculpture.

Jo Applin is a lecturer in the history of art department at the University of York.

'Very readable ... An excellent and needed supplement to art-historical accounts privileging minimalist-oriented sixties sculpture.' - G.R. Brown, CHOICE

'Eccentric Objects is a meticulously written, succinct, and nuanced book. It tells the story of objects that did not conform to established categories of Assemblage, Minimalism or Pop, defamiliarising those worn headings to offer a fresh perspective on a much-discussed historical period.' - Sarah Hamill, Oxford Art Journal

'At the moment of this writing when mainstream contemporary art discourse seems to love Minimal art more than ever (James Turrell recently filled the Guggenheim rotunda while Carl Andre graced the cover of Artforum), Applin’s book serves as a welcome reminder that it was not all hard-edged boxes and phenomenology in New York studios and galleries, the center of the art world, during the early 1960s, but also aggressive reliefs, hyper-anthropomorphic transitional objects, spiky treasure chests, totems that longed for a personal voice but settled for bricolage, and irreverent, ambivalent homages to sculptural elders.' - Elise Archias, CAA Reviews

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