American Bricolage

2 November - 22 December 2000
Sperone Westwater, New York

Press release

Sperone Westwater is pleased to announce “American Bricolage,” an exhibition of recent sculpture by Hope Atherton, Chris Burden, Alexander Calder, Greg Colson, Wim Delvoye, Tom Friedman, Tim Hawkinson, Toland Grinnell, Jon Kessler, Tom Sachs, Richard Wentworth and H.C. Westermann.

Organized by David Leiber and Tom Sachs, “American Bricolage” assembles work by artists (not exclusively American), exploring a recent tendency in contemporary sculpture, artists whose aesthetic strategies are based on the idea of “bricolage”. “Bricolage” is the French concept of the Handyman, Tinkerer, or Odd Jobs Enthusiast.

Today’s artist-bricoleur is a compulsive inventor creating a new cultural syntax out of the debris of the already-given.  Quotidian, often household items and common materials such as vacuum cleaners, trash bags, hot dog stands and duct tape are re-tooled, repaired, and re-invented.  Eschewing traditional artistic materials (but not an awareness of the history of art), these artists breathe new life into the ruined, the corrupted, or slightly out-moded objects of everyday life with keen and often quirky sensibility.

Master Odd-Jobsmen, these artists hobble together inspired contraptions, sculptures or arrangements that are frequently intended to be operational: these surprising, often oddball combinations self-consciously evoke the visionary inventiveness of the obsessive, self-taught hobbyist.  Drawing on the historical lineage of Alexander Calder and H.C. Westermann (whose works are also included), “American Bricolage” ultimately explores the American Do-It-Yourself spirit and culture that increasingly feeds on itself for renewal.

A publication for the exhibition has been produced in collaboration with the artists and includes an essay by Todd Alden.

Exhibition publications