top of page
single page jpeg version_American Sculpture 1951_7x10_indesign_Color Corrected_144.jpg

American Sculpture 1951: Artist book by Peter Dudek

Book Launch at BravinLee programs  Wednesday, August 16, 5:30 - 8 pm
Published by Non-Mystic Monk Editions

Entropy becomes the performative aspect in Peter Dudek’s conceptual reimagining of an exhibition catalog entitled “American Sculpture 1951.” Dudek, a sculptor, purchased this original catalog in a used bookstore in New York City in 2018. Its pages document important postwar American sculptures frozen in time over 70 years ago. Dudek explains, “I collect old art exhibition catalogs, especially on sculpture. I like the ink quality and the rich blacks of books printed 50 or more years ago.” 

“American Sculpture 1951” was a large group sculpture show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art;  Although the American art scene of those days is now known for its embrace of abstraction, you would not know it from the catalog. Aside from a handful of abstract pieces, figuration dominated the pages. The curator, Robert Beverly Hale, claimed that sculpture was less willing to abandon realism than painting. 

Curiously, in this particular version, the catalog’s images had begun to seep through the pages creating a layering quality that caught Dudek’s eye, “Most interesting to me was how the catalog had aged. Images from one side of the page bled to the other. This was not a static document; entropy and physical deterioration had reconfigured artworks; it was a creative act unto itself, an ongoing performance.”

“I decided to scan the book, and the intensity of the scanner’s light read three or four pages deep, further merging and modifying individual sculptures. These new images suggested a new catalog, a new “American Sculpture 1951,” one that would participate in and further elaborate the catalog’s desire to reimagine history.” Dudek’s version of the catalog embraces impermanence, disorder, and chance as part of its conceptual meaning and transformation. The scans re-photograph the catalog at a particular stage in its transformation. Presenting photographic reproductions rather than the original artifact questions notions of reproduction vs. aura. The scans, themselves an erosion of pictorial clarity, become the artwork more than the physical book.

Indeed, “American Sculpture 1951” is more than just a collection of images; it is a living testament to the perpetual dance, where history unfurls itself as a fluid, dynamic entity. With every passing moment, the exhibition catalog evolves, continuing its enthralling performance, forever challenging the boundaries of artistic representation. In Dudek’s hands, this artistic relic breathes anew, and its metamorphic journey leaves an indelible imprint on the viewer’s soul, an ode to the ever-shifting tides of creativity and the relentless allure of impermanence. Allowing sculptures to be fractured and recombined introduces elements of chance, rupture, and recontextualization relative to Dada and Surrealist artists.

Images courtesy of the artist and are all pages from "American Sculpture 1951", 10 x 7 inches.


bottom of page