60 Seconds with Bruce Mclean
Posted by Charlotte Broomfield on 14th October 2014
Bruce McLean is a major figure in contemporary British Art. Taught by Anthony Caro at St. Martin's in London, he found the attitudes of his educators ponderous. He recounts as, 'twelve adult men with pipes would walk for hours around sculpture and mumble." In petition he turned to making sculpture out of rubbish & performance art in order to highlight the pompousness of the art world and mock established art forms. McLean exhibited at the Tate Gallery at the age of 27. Bearing this in mind, 60 seconds went quickly and I had to learn to type fast.
1. How has the art world changed since you emerged as a young artist from St Martins in 1966?
There seems to be more sculptors. Hundreds of people doing hundreds of shows – more people seemed to be artists when I was there. It seemed a lot smaller.
2. In your work, how have you exceeded the boundaries of sculpture?
Well, because we were studying modern sculpture at St Martins we were encouraged to enquire and question the nature of sculpture, so if you’re constantly taught to question then you start to do it. Why is it on the floor? Put it in your pocket etcetera. I started to make a proposition of what sculpture could be. And that is what I’m still doing – I’ve done all sorts of other things such as film, live action and I’m still concerned with what sculpture can be – I work in painting which I call a sculpture.
3. How important is humour in your work?
Well, it's not the only thing, a lot of people think humour is pinnacle in my work. In some it is, but sometimes it isn’t the fundamental element. I think that any artist that doesn’t have a sense of humour isn’t very intelligent and that doesn’t make for a very good artist. In terms of attempting to try and find what a new sculpture can be – nothing can exist without humour but this being said, it’s not always a fundamental in my work.
4. Favourite Gallery?
It used to be the Museum Abteiberg of Mönchengladbach in Germany which is designed by Austrian architect Hans Hollein. Marvelous works were created – I saw the Johanne Cladders collection, A Fabulous Beuys, Warhols, Polkes, Richters, Twomblys.
5. What's the thought process behind 'Pink Cava Lilly?'
Basically I was in my house in Spain and I was just sitting in the garden and my wife was gardening and I made a drawing out of what I saw.
6. You want to create a publication about Art. What do you think current art magazines are lacking?
I think they’re lacking writers who can respond to the works as opposed to curators. What I mean is that the magazine should be the work. The work could be the piece – like the Paris magazines of the 1940s and 50s – which had Picasso and were of inconceivable quality – something you can keep. These were incredibly beautiful publications. The photography and typography was brilliant, a lot of publications don’t understand what good graphics are these days.
7. What are your thoughts on Creativity as a healing process?
If you look at something fabulous it makes you feel better. If you look at something terrible it can make you feel crap. Perhaps not physically but definitely emotionally. Hospitals can evoke awe and lift spirits by having more beautiful and energetic things around. As simple as when something looks great it makes you feel great if something looks shit it makes you feel like that, really.
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