Recent Work (2000-2009) | DOUGLAS BENTHAM

By: Douglas Bentham  09-12-2011
Keywords: Constructivist Sculpture

The first time I saw Picasso’s early constructions I was struck by how small they were. These tiny objects of wood, paper, tin and string, so vital to the birth of constructivist sculpture, trick you by their size. There is a sense of monumentality implied through these little forms.

The numerous series from which the works in this exhibition are drawn have been undertaken at intervals, usually when I need a change of pace in the studio. The form that a fresh series takes is most often shaped by a newly discovered material—found bits of forging, harness links, intricate mouldings…one series is built around telephone bells.

Since my first encounter with these tiny Picassos, I’ve learned much about rhythm and concentration, and how the two must blend seamlessly during the making of a sculpture. It takes a very different pacing, combined with a trance-like attention, to feel one’s way into small-scale work. My desire here is to create objects with the concentrated energy that allows them to be viewed from a distance yet also demands your close-up attention. I want them to occupy their own inner realms, coaxing the viewer into a kind of childlike fascination, followed then by a peaceful recognition of many things felt.

Douglas Bentham
October 2009

Keywords: Constructivist Sculpture

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According to Bentham, the translation of scale and material forces the viewer to deal with the language of abstraction.1 In looking from one piece to the other, the viewer is compelled to mentally reconstruct the work, to verify that, for instance, those two flanges join at just the same angle in both pieces.



Gonzalez was referring retrospectively to Picasso’s early sculpture and, by implication, to the welded metal sculpture on which he and Picasso had recently collaborated. The idea of sculpture as drawing in space has been central to the development of modernist sculpture from the first decades of the twenty-first century. He was aware of Smith’s insistence on the primacy of a picture plane as the basis for sculpture.



The curved “drawing” which composes them has two aspects: it draws sinuous “dancing” arabesques in the air and it draws around and contains space. The pieces rise off the ground in a variety of ways, sometimes upon platforms that become surrogates for the floor rather than bases or plinths. This architecture inclines to cage-like configurations characterized by curved rods and tubes containing curved plates and volumes.


New Work (2010-2011) | DOUGLAS BENTHAM

These tablet-scaled works hark back to the Doors, where each work’s own materiality, its scale and flux of front/back, back/front offers a kind of psychological interior in the viewer’s imagination. Although the artist plans to show the Centurions as a group eventually, the Tablets represents Bentham’s first full-fledged museum installation.