It’s a long time since sculptors (usually wearing white smocks and black floppy caps in those old black and white photographs) took up their hammer and chisels to cut out their shapes from a block of white cararra marble. Stone sculptures can now be prepared by computerised cutting while artists adopt a wide variety of techniques to create their sculpture – the world is their oyster!
Urs Fischer’s sculptures from 2006-8 start as lumps of clay which he squeezed into shapes which were then digitally scanned to create the final bronzes at around 50 times the size, even including the giant texture of his hand and fingers on the forms, Charles Ray’s ‘Tractor’ from 2003-4 is a modern recreation of a old 1938 farm tractor which he took apart and then reproduced all the components in precise, perfect aluminium shapes as if it were made yesterday, while there is a link with John Chamberlain who sculpture was created from automobile parts and other metal elements such as crushed metal boxes in his 1967 sculpture ‘Untitled’.
All three have taken something different and, to an extent ordinary, and transformed it into something new and bold, on show in ‘Crushed, Cast, Constructed’ across the three rooms at the Gagosian Gallery in Grosvenor Hill, London, now reopened after the lockdown with relevant precautions in place. It is a little surreal to explore the exhibition wearing a face-mask – what would the three artists have made of that?