Alice Aycock's large, semi-architectural works deal with the interaction of structure, site, materials, and the psychophysical responses of the viewer. Offered meaningful but contradictory clues by both her images and her texts, viewers attempt to discover not only what the work of art conveys but how it communicates its contents, in investigations that parallel the artist's own. In Alice Aycock: Sculpture and Projects, Robert Hobbs examines the development of Aycock's work over twenty years and her negotiation—along with other artists who came of age in the early 1970s—of the transition from modernism to postmodernism.
"The problem," wrote Aycock in 1977, "seems to be how to connect without connecting." Hobbs describes Aycock's strategies for doing just this: for creating a work with disparate image and texts that offer a new perspective on reality. Influenced by the "specific objects" of minimalism's hybrid forms and by conceptualism's emphasis on language, Aycock relies on paradigms, cybernetics, phenomenology, physics, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, information overload, outdated scientific thinking, and computer programming to create a "complex" that is architectural and sculptural as well as mental and emotional. Schizophrenia and other mental conditions, sometimes considered metaphors for the disconnections of postmodern existence, are specific sources of inspiration in Aycock’s work. By exploring the physical and existential positions of isolation, estrangement, disorientation, entrapment and fear, her three-dimensional constructions not only posit alternative states of mind, they suppose possible narratives and suggest multiple truths and lies. Aycock’s work invites the viewer to experience sculpture with the entire body and a fully mind. Her sculpture has had a transformative effect on the contemporary art experience.
About the Author
Robert Hobbs is Rhoda Thalheimer Endowed Chair in the Department of Art History at Virginia Commonwealth University. He is the author of many books, including monographs on Edward Hopper, Mark Lombardi, Lee Krasner, Robert Smithson, and Kara Walker.
"Aycock's ambivalent response to the rise of feminism is one of the many issues that Robert Hobbs addresses with some subtlety in Alice Aycock, Sculpture and Projects. This 11-by-9-inch spaciously designed monograph masterfully integrates its documentary and interpretive functions, suggesting a felicitous coupling of scholar and art. Hobbs, a distinguished art historian, illuminates Aycock's work with references as intricate as Aycock's own, which range from the literary to the biographical."—Art in America
"This account of Alice Aycock's pioneering work is a profoundly rewarding read. It brings to mind the impact of her ever influential artworks on the generation of artists that followed, especially the way in which recent works oscillate between art, architecture, and design, between experiment and functionality, anticipation and becoming. Read it and you will feel altered."
—Hans Ulrich Obrist, Curator, Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris, and Professor, IUAV, Venice
"The art of Alice Aycock represents a significant step in sculpture after minimalism. In this study, Robert Hobbs provides the first comprehensive account of the artist's brilliant production and its multifarious sources, establishing her essential role in the development of a sculpture in the 'expanded field.' Aycock emerges an even more fascinating figure than one had previously imagined."
—James Meyer, Associate Professor of Art History, Emory University
"Robert Hobbs is the right scholar to probe the imaginative, anti-entropic universe of Alice Aycock, an artist long overdue for such comprehensive treatment. Spanning the domains of architecture, site-specific sculpture, historical cosmology, and systems theory, Aycock's structures and eviscerated machines invite the viewer (and now reader) to contemplate and inhabit their schizophrenic evocations of contemporary subjectivity. Aycock's wide-ranging intellectual interests are matched by Hobbs's careful scholarship into the social, art-historical, and personal contexts that have fueled this important art."
—Caroline A. Jones, Professor in the History, Theory, Criticism Program in the Department of Architecture, MIT, and author of Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg's Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses
Received an Honorable Mention in the Art & Art History category of the 2005 Professional/Scholarly Publishing Annual Awards Competition presented by the Association of American Publishers, Inc.