Passages in Modern Sculpture by Rosalind E. Krauss

Sculpture has always been an “unreadable” and opaque art form for me.  While I canpassages look at classical and figurative sculpture and appreciate the labor and skill that went into its making, I couldn’t tell you what the underlying meaning of the work was.  By the time you get to the non-figurative, conceptual sculpture of the 20th and 21st centuries, I am at a complete loss and feel like I have no idea what I’m looking at.

Rosalind Krauss’ Passages in Modern Sculpture was the first book to really teach me how to look at and think about modern/contemporary sculpture.

Chapter One examines Rodin, a sculptor many would consider “classical” insofar as he deals with recognizable human forms, and demonstrates how the conceptual and abstract properties of later sculpture are already at work here.  By treating Rodin as a transitional figure, Krauss helps the sculpturally illiterate (like me!) bridge the daunting gap between representational and abstract art.

Subsequent chapters tackle Duchamp’s readymades, Giacometti’s surreal constructions, installation art, and environmental sculpture.

In her introduction, Krauss points out that she wrote her book with student readers in mind, so the text is lucid and refreshingly jargon-free.  If you are up for an adventurous stroll through the enigmatic sculpture gardens of the past hundred years, Rosalind Krauss makes an excellent tour guide.

(Chris Fox, Central Library)

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