press release

Material transformations. Matter, physics and process. Monuments to labour. Through these provocations British artist John Latham (1921-2006) rethought the limits and possibilities of art.

A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham addresses his visionary contribution to the study of sculpture, bringing sixteen works by Latham, spanning 1958 to 2005, into conversation with sixteen sculptures by artists working across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Art school was an important influence on Latham, where his tutors included Henry Moore, yet for him the structures of education inhibited production of knowledge. He would later be removed from his teaching post at St Martin's School of Art in 1967 for distilling the 'essence' of a library book - critic Clement Greenberg's collection of essays Art and Culture (1961).

Latham dedicated his life to building a cohesive world view, unifying science and the humanities. He described his position not as that of an artist, rather as an 'incidental person' - a creative and independent part of the social network, charged with creating independent thought. Taking Latham's multifarious practice as its guide, A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham proposes that each work by Latham teaches how post-war sculpture developed internationally.

Time-based events were intrinsic to Latham's research across all of the provocations forming the narrative of A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham. Throughout the exhibition three event sculptures take place directly outside the Institute building. The first is a 'Skoob Tower' burning, described by Latham as a 'sculpture in reverse' - skoob being the word books inverted - realised by Neal White; the second Annea Lockwood's 'Piano Burning' and the third a building of Gordon Matta-Clark's 'Garbage Wall'.