Jackie Winsor. Burnt Piece. 1977-78

Jackie Winsor Burnt Piece 1977-78

  • Not on view

Winsor's use of a cube can be seen in relation to Minimalist sculpture of the 1960s; however, she undermined this basic form by setting the cement, wood, and wire mesh structure over a bonfire. She burned the cube for about five hours, until, she has said, it "began to expand and round slightly. As it cooled later, it contracted and the cube became slightly concave. During the firing, fragments of concrete popped off the main body to a distance of twenty feet. I had researched the material's properties because I wanted to push it to its structural limit, to where the concrete was actively, dangerously, responding to the heat but was not overwhelmed or destroyed. . . . That is what physically happened to the form and material. That is its history."

Gallery label from 2012.

A member of the post-Minimalist generation, Winsor inherits the Minimalists' preference for simple geometric shapes. But her works are handmade, and their surfaces are more various and tactile than Minimalism's impersonal, machine-honed planes. They also show slotlike openings that invite us to peer into their dark interiors: "You go up to the windowed cubes and touch them," says Winsor, "you peek, you use your eyes, your nose." In this way "the cubes parallel and are metaphors for the body." For Burnt Piece Winsor built a cube out of wood and wire-reinforced concrete. Then she set this cube over a bonfire, burning away the wood and turning the concrete brown, black, and ash gray. This volatile process has created a dramatic narrative. Winsor burned the cube for about five hours, until, she says, it "began to expand and round slightly. As it cooled later, it contracted and the cube became slightly concave. During the firing, fragments of concrete popped off the main body to a distance of twenty feet. I had researched the material's properties because I wanted to push to its structural limit, to where the concrete was actively, dangerously, responding to the heat but was not overwhelmed or destroyed. . . . That is what physically happened to the form and material. That is its history."

Publication excerpt from The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999, p. 300.
Medium
Cement, burnt wood, and wire mesh
Dimensions
33 7/8 x 34 x 34" (86.1 x 86.4 x 86.4 cm)
Credit
Gift of Agnes Gund
Object number
90.1991
Copyright
© 2019 Jackie Winsor
Department
Painting and Sculpture

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