100 Sculptors of Tomorrow

In a foreword to the new book from Thames & Hudson – 100 SCULPTORS OF TOMORROW – art historian, critic and curator Richard Cork charts sculpture’s changing place in the art world

It’s Tulio Pinto, Nadir No. 8 (2014), Steel Ladder, Glass, Rope and Stones

For too long, sculpture was in danger of losing its prominence as a major art form. The classical tradition, celebrated at London’s British Museum by the Athenian marble carvings from Lord Elgin’s collection, became regarded as a stifling exemplar of academic predictability. At the beginning of the twentieth century, rebellious young modernists wanted to escape from the hallowed world of dignified, anatomically idealised figures posing on plinths or embellishing grandiose buildings. Sculpture was overshadowed by experimental painting, though artists as audacious as Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso sometimes explored the potential of three-dimensional forms while pursuing their primary commitment to mark-making on canvas.

So did Marcel Duchamp. His defiant exploration of ready-made objects – a bicycle wheel, a bottle rack, the highly provocative urinal – opened up immense new possibilities for radical sculptors. By the end of the twentieth century, sculptors felt free to deploy an extraordinarily wide, unpredictable range of materials in their work. And now, as this book attests with such vigour, the sculptors of tomorrow refuse to be constrained in any way by traditional approaches. The old idea that bronze was the ideal medium no longer plays any part in their thinking. Instead, they are not afraid to use alternatives as fragile as glass.

Nathan Mabry, Heavy Handed (2013), Weathering Steel, 210x150x120cm

Sculpture used to be considered a fundamentally ‘tough’ activity, lauding bodily perfection. But practitioners in the 21st century are increasingly preoccupied with vulnerability. Damaged or shattered images play a central role in sculpture now. Even at its most monumental, poignant notions of fragility and loss often lurk inside a work, vividly reflecting the widespread instability and sudden, unpredictable violence threatening the world we inhabit today.

Caronline Achaintre, Mad Cap (2017), Hand Tufted Wool, 270x204cm

Nor is sculpture still regarded as an exclusively male activity. During the twentieth century, practitioners like Barbara Hepworth and Louise Bourgeois broke through this sexist barrier and proved that outstanding, adventurous three-dimensional pieces could be created by women. They fought the dismissive hostility of indignant defenders of sculpture as a manly pursuit, and today such prejudice is regarded as an aberration of the past. Female practitioners are abundantly represented throughout this book, and play a crucial role in widening the possibilities of present-day sculpture.

Sebastian Neeb, Trophy For Being Where Everyone Else Is (2017), Gilded Ceramic, Stone, Veneer, Martble, Plywood, and Car PAint, 65x31x31cm

Restrictive national boundaries have likewise been torn down. Plenty of artists now live and work in locations far removed from the countries where they grew up. Their determination to roam around enriches the work they produce and increases the stimulating dialogue between sculptors across the world. Leafing through the pages of this book, we soon realise that an astonishing array of possibilities are now playing a part in sculpture. Far from being confined by narrow, defensive and pedantic rules, its potential seems limitless, and certain to play a continually challenging role in the art of the future.

Zadie Xa, Bio Enhanced_Hiero Advanced The Genius of Gene Jupiter (2018), Hand Sewn and Machine Stitched Assorted Fabrics with synthetic hair on bamboo, 166x170cm

100 SCULPTORS OF TOMORROW by Kurt Beers is released September 2019 by Thames & Hudson

Behind the Best Record Covers of the 70s

The album artwork that cemented design collective Hipgnosis as the visual arbiters of the progressive rock scene 

When Pink Floyd asked friends and graphic designers Storm Thorgerson and Audrey Powell to create the cover art for their second studio album, A Saucerful of Secrets, they set in motion a design legacy that produced some of the most memorable record covers of the 60s, 70s and 80s. Hipgnosis – a play on the words ‘hip’ and ‘gnostic’ – combined the cool and occult, and was a word first coined by Syd Barret, who shared a flat with Thorgerson and Powell in Cambridge at the time. Barrett scrawled the word onto their front door one day and the name was born.  

In the years that followed, Hipgnosis built a reputation off the back of their characteristically enigmatic album covers. Using photography to blend elements of surrealism, sex and postmodern elbow-nudging, their quirky sense of humour and willingness to break boundaries was both a sign of the times and a revolution in itself. Here, we look at some of the best examples of their work from the 70s.

Syd Barrett, The Madcap Laughs, 1970 – Photography: S. Thorgerson © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

Syd Barrett – The Madcap Laughs

In preparation for this album shoot Syd Barrett painted the floor of his bedroom in orange and purple. When photographer Mick Rock arrived to shoot Syd, he found a naked woman in the kitchen known only as “Iggy the Eskimo”. Fittingly, she features on the back of the sleeve. 

10cc, Deceptive Bends 1977 – Photography: A. Powell/S. Thorgerson/P. Christopherson – Graphics: G. Hardie – Retouching: R. Manning © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

10cc – Deceptive Bends

In the days before photoshop Hipgnosis were pioneers of the cut-and-paste method, creating surreal collages by sticking conflicting images on top of each other. The artwork for Deceptive Bends features three separate images: the diver and the woman (shot in a studio), the jetty (shot on location by the River Thames), and the sky (taken from a photo library). 

Peter Gabriel, Peter Gabriel (2) 1978 – Photography: A. Powell/P. Christopherson – Graphics: Hipgnosis/C. Elgie © 2017 Peter Gabriel Ltd

Peter Gabriel – Scratch

The unofficial title of Peter Gabriel’s second self-titled album, Scratch was inspired, undeniably, by the artwork of Hipgnosis. The ‘tearing’ effect from Gabriel’s fingertips is actually white paper, torn and adjusted onto the original image .

10cc, How Dare You! 1976 – Cover design: Hipgnosis/G. Hardie – Photography: A. Powell © 2017 Hipgnosis Ltd

10cc – How Dare You!

The concept for 10cc’s How Dare You! was entirely based upon the strength of the music. The use of phones refer to the song ‘Don’t Hang Up’, which opens with a woman picking up the phone, while the people on the front and back refer directly to certain characters that pop up throughout the album.

Pink Floyd, The Dark Side of the Moon 1973 – Graphics: G. Hardie © Pink Floyd Music Ltd

Pink Floyd – The Dark Side Of The Moon

Perhaps the best known of Hipgnosis’ work, the artwork for Pink Floyd’s seminal The Dark Side Of The Moon is a graphic representation of both the band’s light-infused live shows and the heartbeat that begins the album. The spectrum of light reflected from the prism on the cover to the the back, provides a suitably cryptic image to fit the mysterious title of the album.

Vinyl. Album. Cover. Art. is out now, published by Thames & Hudson