This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.


By Bruce Beasley

There are two growing phenomena in the world of sculpture that I believe need exposure and discussion. One is a type of sculpture symposium and the other is a sculpture loan program to governments.


Being invited to participate in a sculpture symposium can be a wonderful opportunity for a sculptor. Symposiums can provide opportunities for artists to meet and collaborate, to work in new materials or techniques or travel to new places. However there are also symposiums that exploit the artists that are invited. I believe we can divide sculpture symposiums into two categories. First are symposiums where the purpose of the symposium is to allow the sculptors some new experiences. I applaud these symposiums. I have participated in them and they can be a wonderful experience. Second are symposiums where the goal is for the sponsors to end up owning a collection of sculptures. These symposiums usually present themselves as having very lofty goals, but most often they are nothing more than an exploitation of the artists and a way to get a sculpture collection without paying for it.

I will give two examples of the latter kind of symposium. Over a several year period the Yuzi Paradise in Guilin, China recruited artists worldwide to come and produce large stone sculptures. The plan was to build a fancy hotel and restaurant outside of the city of Guilin. Since it was outside of the city the project needed a ‘draw’ or special reason for people

to come. The developers decided to make sculpture that draw. Many sculptors attended these so called ‘symposiums’ over several years and the enterprise ended up with an impressive collection of large sculptures that became the advertisement and the primary reason to go to this expensive hotel and restaurant. Many tens of millions of dollars were invested in this art hotel and ‘Sculpture Paradise’. What is instructive is that everybody involved was paid EXCEPT the artists. The hotel architect was paid for his talent and time, the landscape architect was paid for his talent and time, the symposium administrator was paid - everybody was paid except the artists whose talents and efforts provided the core attraction of the hotel and restaurant. Why did these developers do it this way? Why didn’t they just purchase the sculptures? I think the reason is simple. They thought they could get away with it, and they did.

Recently I was solicited to apply to a sculpture symposium in Abu Dhabi. The organizers spoke about how Abu Dhabi was creating a new cultural district with museums and other cultural buildings. They explained that they were commissioning top international architects to design the buildings. This would clearly be an important new part of the city that would cost hundreds of millions. The stated purpose of the symposium was “to leave contemporary sculptural works for the new cultural district”. The selected artists would be housed, and have the costs of materials paid for. On one level this sounds attractive. But once again, the purpose

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44