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Lesson Plans

Re: size and meaning

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
R. Moore (ronmoore)
Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:01:00 -0800 (PST)

I'm enjoying the ongoing discussion of size. Marcia pointed out the
effect of outsize objects. The example was Oldenberg's LIPSTICK, which
was enstalled at Yale University. It was ultimately reviled and defaced,
then removed. The very size of the thing caused viewers to take stock of
it and, perhaps, think about the outsize role of cosmetics in American
Society. I think the scuulptor was also playing on the tension between
the object's obvious phallic monumentality and it's nearly exclusively
female utile function. Oldenberg has made quite a few similar "outsize"
sculptures: Hot Water Bag, Hamburger, Screw, and so on. In all cases,
the very hugeness of the piece calls us up short (so to speak), and gets
us thinking about the large (maybe too large) role each plays in our

Someone asked about art-size in connection with religiour and
political statement. True, historically, large artworks have almost
always been intended to convey a message of power or divinity. Look at
the Great Wall in China, for example, or Saddam Hussein's grotesque
self-advertisment of a war memorial in Baghdad, or Mount Rushmore, or St.
Peters, and so on, and so on. But, nowadays, think of the biggest things
we make: Football stadia, Hydroelectric Dams, Giant radiotelescopes and
atom smashers. Some of these are not desgned with aestheticconsidreations
in mind; but some are. So what are we saying with size today?

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