By taking simple ways of looking at sculpture, this book uncovers unexpected affinities between works of very different periods and types. From sundials to mirrors, from graves to way-markers, from fountains to contemporary art, a wide range of illustrated examples expands the definitions of sculpture and proposes that we understand this art as something more fundamental to the way we experience and construct our rites of passage.
Penelope Curtis argues that there are some basic functions shared by many kinds of three-dimensional objects, be they more or less obviously sculptural. Even contemporary sculpture, with no apparent purpose, makes use of this deeply embedded vocabulary. Together, the qualities of vertical, horizontal, closed and open are consolidated in the ensemble, which places the viewer at its heart, on the threshold of sculpture and on the threshold of change. This book elides the usual notions of figurative and abstract to think instead about how sculpture works.
Penelope Curtis is Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon and previous Director of Tate Britain.