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Dematerialization, contracted labour and art fabrication: the deskilling of the artist in the age of late capitalism

Child, D (2015) Dematerialization, contracted labour and art fabrication: the deskilling of the artist in the age of late capitalism. Sculpture Journal, 24 (3). pp. 375-390. ISSN 1366-2724

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Abstract

From 1966 to 1971 at least three art fabrication firms emerged in America: Gemini G.E.L, Lippincott Inc. and Carlson and Co. The latter two firms were solely devoted to the manufacture of large-scale public sculpture, then associated with minimalist artists such as Donald Judd and Tony Smith. The discourse surrounding the work of these artists highlighted a shift to the conception rather than the making of a work of art and also drew attention to the industrial aesthetic fostered, perhaps, by the outsourcing of labour. Rather than adopt a contemporary reading of these practices as ‘collaborative’, this article aims to understand the emergence of art-specific fabrication firms within the context of late capitalism in 1960s America. Thus, the shift to ‘dematerialization’ in art is read otherwise; that is, in relation to the deskilling of work – particularly in manufacturing industries – that took place across the twentieth century.

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