U Sculpture (v. 5)

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  • Provenance

    Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Known for his ink-jet printed X and U graphics, Wade Guyton’s U Sculpture also manifests the influence of minimalist art. In the age of post-Duchamp, post-studio work, craft is left aside and Guyton instead places the emphasis on the concept and the mechanical process. Guyton force feeds canvas through an ink-jet printer. It is the printer which is challenged, being given the task of printing on unconventional material such as linen or canvas. The Xs and Us, signs of a broken language, repeat themselves like automatic letters.

    The chromed U Sculpture’s curve has the shape of a body, albeit an anthropomorphic one. Polyvalent, flexible, it can reflect any space it is placed in. The surroundings of the room or the viewer are made active and thus doubled. The objective, which is the mirror itself, creates the subjective, the distorted reflection.

    Giving the printer further power, the paintings could be called ‘printer sculptures’ or ‘drawings in space’. The art critic and theorist, Rosalind Krauss, coined the term ‘post-medium’ to explain the departure by contemporary artists from traditional media. Thus, in order to understand the work, one has to look at a broader framework.

    Guyton seems to draw inspiration and delve into the same issues that Robert Morris, a prominent figure in Minimalist art, explores. Morris declares, “The notion that work is an irreversible process ending in a static icon-object no longer has much relevance … What is revealed is that art itself is an activity of change, of disorientation and shift, of violent discontinuity and mutability, of the willingness for confusion even in the service of discovering new perceptual modes.” (R. Morris, ‘Notes on Sculpture. Part 4’, in Continuous Project Altered Daily: The Writings of Robert Morris, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1995, pp. 68–69). This describes exactly how Guyton’s work embraces both determination and chance.

    In 2002, Guyton partook in an ‘Action Sculpture’. He distorted a Marcel Breuer chair, taking the seat and back out, rendering the chair devoid of its utility, leaving a free standing frame which could be arranged in any way. He called his process “to free the chair from its condemnation to furniture” (the artist in conversation with Christoph Platz, April 2010, ‘Artblog Cologne’). The artist confounds the relationship between form and function. If the Austrian architect Adolf Loos aimed to free design from ornament, Guyton, in the 21st century, takes a step further by nullifying the form.


U Sculpture (v. 5)

mirrored stainless steel
111.5 × 50.3 × 46 cm (43 7/8 × 19 3/4 × 18 1/8 in)
This work is number 2 from an edition of 3.

£70,000 - 90,000 

sold for £193,250

Contemporary Art Evening

28 June 2012