Bruce McLean

Pose Work for Plinths 3


Not on display

Bruce McLean born 1944
12 photographs, gelatin silver prints on paper on board
Frame: 785 × 717 × 20 mm
image: 750 × 682 mm
Purchased 1981

Display caption

Originally conceived as a performance at the Situation Gallery in 1971, McLean's poses are an ironic and humorous commentary on what he considered to be the pompous monumentality of Henry Moore's large plinth-based sculptures. The artist later had himself photographed, repeating the poses, to create three permanent works, two of which are shown here.

Gallery label, August 2004

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Catalogue entry


Not inscribed
12 photographs, drymounted on board, overall dimensions 29 3/8 × 24 1/32 (75 × 68.2)
Purchased from the artist (Grant-in-Aid) 1981
Exh: Bruce McLean: Early Works 1967–71, Museum of Modern Art, Oxford, April–June 1975(16)
Lit: Sarah Kent, ‘The Biography Drawer’ in Bruce McLean (exh. catalogue), Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, 1980, pp.11–12; Nena Dimitrijevic, ‘Les Postures-Performances de Bruce McLean’ in Bruce McLean (exh. catalogue), Musée d'Art et d'Industrie, Saint-Etienne, 1981,p.5; Nena Dimitrijevic, Bruce McLean, 1981, p.31

The artist made three ‘Pose Works for Plinths’; the third (no.II in the series) is in a private collection. All three were exhibited together at Oxford in 1975 as one work.

The work was originally conceived as a performance at the Situation Gallery in 1971, documentary photographs of which were published in the catalogue of McLean's one-day retrospective, King for a Day, held at the Tate Gallery on 11 March 1972. The artist later decided to have himself photographed repeating the various poses, with the specific intention of arranging the resulting prints to form a work of art.

As Nena Dimitrijevic has written, ‘“Pose Works for Plinths” was a comment on Henry Moore's large reclining figures. McLean in order to achieve postures analogous to theirs, restricted himself to three uneven plinths on which to recline. The resulting series of poses were attempts to maintain his balance and to express attributes he felt inherent in Moore's sculpture-pomposity and aspiration for monumentality.’ The plinth in McLean's work also functions as an ironic reference to its dogmatic rejection as a legitimate base for sculpture by Anthony Caro and others teaching at St Martin's in the sixties, when McLean was a student there (1963–6).

Published in:
The Tate Gallery 1980-82: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions, London 1984

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