Two Installations by Richard Nonas

BOMB 28 Summer 1989

Home of the Bill T. Jones / Arnie Zane Company


28 Nonas Body

Richard Nonas, Dniee, 1988, steel, 24 × 15 × 2 feet. ACE Contemporary Exhibition, Los Angeles. Inset: Lucifer Landing (Real Snake in Imaginary Garden), 1989, rock, 135 × 354 feet. Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan.

I distrust sculpture that emphasizes process, duration, or growth. I trust sculpture whose making, and being, is finished immediately.

I trust the instantaneous presence of changeable things: of objects as objects in a present and immediate world—things unified precisely by their mysterious ability to instantaneously transcend their pasts—to instantaneously undermine and deny even their own parts. I trust sculpture that is the suppression, or even destruction, of everything it effects; sculpture that is the tyranny of its own changed boundaries (wherever those boundaries fall in the new world it has made).

I trust the paradox of juxtaposed partless parts instantly transformed into larger part-less wholes. I trust the immediate coming-together, the coalescing to unique and flashing single-thingness, the jump to new-born separate-objectness that makes sculpture powerful.

I distrust theatricality in sculpture. I distrust archetype and the evocation of nature. I distrust attempts at the primtive or the sacred. I distrust objects that act as a role. I distrust sculpture that does not disdain the theater of its own creation. I distrust sculpture that plays to an audience, or even to its own maker. I distrust sculpture that needs a text.

I trust only the sculpture that is immediately and wholly there. I trust sculpture that means its specific world by instantaneously becoming it. I trust sculpture that does not grow, but simply appears—shuddering, like a knife stabbed into wood.

—Richard Nonas

Barry Le Va by Saul Ostrow
​Barry Le Va 01
Related
Tony Feher by Saul Ostrow
Feher 01 Body

Ostrow visits Feher at his Bronx studio, where he muses about his past, contemplates his future, and pinpoints the exact moment when he discovered to be an artist meant to believe “I was right, even when I was wrong.”

Jim Hodges by Stuart Horodner
Jim Hodges 01

In 1994 I saw an installation by Jim Hodges called A Diary of Flowers. It featured over 500 drawings of distinct flowers, each rendered in black or blue ball point ink on folded or opened up paper napkins. 

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville by Abby Goldstein
Sheila Levrant de Bretteville 01

Sheila Levrant de Bretteville may not be a familiar name. Like the people in her work she is, outside of her own community, an “unsung hero.”

Originally published in

BOMB 28, Summer 1989
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