Apart from providing concrete evidence of a vital and growing community of artists in Philadelphia, the exhibition reflects the personal expression and temperament of the individual artists. And at the same time, it demonstrates the diversity of recent American art.
While no definable style characterizes their work, the five participants do share common attitudes about space, procedure, and materials. All work in an extended format; they assign importance not to sculpture as object, but to the relationship of forms to one another in a given spatial setting. In this instance, the artists have dealt directly with the particular architectural features of the ICA galleries and adjoining areas. In fact, the gallery space is a vital component of the works and became an enormous workshop for their creation. The size of the structures in Made in Philadelphia implies monumentality; however, the artists’ working procedures and acceptance of the transitory nature of an exhibition challenge conventional notion about sculpture. For them the creative process – the artist’s solution to a given set of circumstances and conditions – is more important than the creation of a permanent work of art.
By selecting materials which depart from traditional usage – natural forms, industrial supplies, commonplace objects and even the passerby – the five participants explore a wide range of expressive and procedural possibilities. In some cases, they have broken away from the historical distinction between painting and sculpture. Through choice of materials as well as their handling and management of them, the artists have created works of art that are both personal and imposing. Each project is a continuum of visual events in which the viewer becomes a participant or, with Simkin, a performer. The structures call upon all the viewer’s responses; for the observer must reconstruct the artist’s work through a series of perceptions, associations and, finally, memory of things seen and recalled.
-Suzanne Delehanty, Curator and ICA Director, 1973