John Chamberlain: A Retrospective (1971), Introduction and Conversation
Diane Waldman & John Chamberlain
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In 1971, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum organized the first museum retrospective for the artist John Chamberlain, whose work transformed the strengths of Abstract Expressionism into a three-dimensional form through the use of industrial materials.
Re-released on the occasion of the Guggenheim's 2012 exhibition John Chamberlain: Choices, this e-book features the texts from the original exhibition catalogue. Diane Waldman’s introduction to the catalogue discusses the artist’s influences in great detail, and is followed by a selection of excerpts from a conversation between Chamberlain, former editor of Art in America Elizabeth C. Baker, artist Donald Judd, and Waldman. A list of works exhibited in the 1971 mid-career retrospective is included in the catalogue.
From the crushed automobile parts to the more recent galvanized metal and plexiglas works, Chamberlain started with structures that were hollow and retained this characteristic, even when he crushed them into other forms. His sculpture, while singular and massive, has no center but is hollow (just as traditional sculpture was built from an armature out). This phenomenon is, in itself, extraordinary, for it subverts traditional concepts of form even to the extent of parody. As Chamberlain has pointed out, he has started with a structure not unlike that of an empty cigarette pack and its subsequent form is always keyed to this initial decision.