Bruce McLean

Six Sculptures

1967–8

Medium
6 photographs, gelatin silver prints on paper, typewritten caption on card
Dimensions
Unconfirmed: 505 x 787 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Purchased 1973
Reference
T01740

Display caption

Over a year McLean made these six sculptures from natural materials. He returned them to the environment, so these photographs are the only record of their existence. The sculptures demonstrate McLean’s interest in time and its passing. With Floataway Sculpture, the water currents break up the sculpture, transforming the piece into an event. In his continuing attempts to resist the commodification of the art object, McLean later moved to performance and Body art.

Gallery label, May 2007

Catalogue entry

Bruce McLean b.1944

T01740 Six Sculptures 1967–68

Not inscribed.
Six black and white photographs, with captions typed on them, laid on white card, 19¿x 31 (50.5 x 79).
Purchased from the artist through the Situation Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) 1973.

The photographs are disposed in two horizontal rows of three. All the photographs are between 7¿ and 7¿ in. high and between 9 and 9½in. wide. The typed captions read:

Upper left: ‘Floataway sculpture sawdust and wood shavings 1967’
Upper centre: ‘Mud sculpture 1967 Beverley Brook Tidal Bruce McLean’
Upper right: ‘Vertical ice piece Barnes Pond 1968’
Lower left: ‘Mud sculpture using board and tidal stream 1967 Bruce McLean’
Lower centre: ‘Ice on grass 1968 sunny day. Bruce McLean’
Lower right: ‘3 wooden blocks on concrete plinth 1968’

All the sculptures recorded in these photographs were made near McLean’s home in Barnes, south-west London. All were transitory in physical form. The artist told the compiler (May 1974) that the two very small wooden blocks were made by himself and after having been placed and photographed were left by him in their location in Stanton Road, Barnes (on a pre-existing strip of concrete). All six works were a direct response to the situation in which he found himself. Aware of the range and quantity of sculpture being made in more permanent forms he felt it was foolish to make large sculptures and asserted in these works that neither permanence nor the materials chosen for a work could in themselves determine the degree of a work’s excellence.

Published in The Tate Gallery Report 1972–1974, London 1975.