Bruce McLean: The Shapes of Sculpture
An Exhibition of Recent Paintings
10 October - 3 November 2012

Bruce McLean has been investigating the condition of sculpture since the late 1960s, creatively interrogating, in an astonishing diversity of media, the nature of its validity, its diverse possibilities of meaning, its propositions and pretensions, its presentations, positionings and re-positionings, its private and public settings, indoor and outdoor, and its critical contexts. The paintings in the forthcoming exhibition at the Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 6 Cork Street, London W1, mark a new direction in this continuously lively, witty and profound inquiry.

They may be regarded as paintings of things that look like sculptures, or in some cases, paintings of paintings of things that look like sculpture, sometimes based on photographs of things in the artist's studio that look like sculpture but are in fact merely two-dimensional representations based on photographs of sculptures; these are thus paintings of paintings of photos of sculptures and paintings of overlapping paintings of sculptures and other studio equipment. At this time when all art ends up as a photograph, especially sculpture, McLean starts with the photograph and works backwards (so to speak) toward discovering the shape and function of (the) sculpture.

Since sculptures (like paintings) exist in space, these new works may be regarded as paintings also of a specific space circumambient to the sculptures, an imagined space for imagined sculptures, or things that in the paintings look like sculptures in a painter's studio. But Bruce McLean is a sculptor, and always has been. He considers his whole oeuvre from performance pieces through photo-works and film works, architectural installations and paintings to be sculpture. Thus, though the new paintings may in fact be sculptures (as designated by the artist, when it suits his mood), they are most certainly paintings as well. They can be hung on walls (nothing un-sculptural about that) if the walls are big enough.

Bruce McLean is a Scottish sculptor, performance artist, filmmaker and painter. He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1961 to 1963, and from 1963 to 1966 at St. Martin's School of Art, London, where he and others rebelled against what appeared to be the formalist academicism of his teachers, including Anthony Caro and Phillip King. In 1965 he abandoned conventional studio production in favour of impermanent sculptures using materials such as water, along with performances of a generally satirical nature directed against the art world. In Pose Work for Plinths I (1971; London, Tate), a photographic documentation of one such performance, he used his own body to parody the poses of Henry Moore's celebrated reclining figures. When in 1972 he was offered an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, he opted for a 'retrospective' he titled "King for a Day" which lasted only one day.

In 1971 McLean established Nice Style, billed as 'The World's First Pose Band', while teaching at Maidstone College of Art. With them, and in other collaborative performances (Academic Board, 1975; Sorry! A Minimal Musical in Parts, 1977; The Masterwork: Award Winning Fishknife, 1979), he continued to use humour to confront the pretensions of the art world and wider social issues such as the nature relojes de imitacion of bureaucracy and institutional politics. From the mid 1970s, while continuing to mount occasional performances, McLean has turned increasingly to paintings/sculpture and film work. In 1985 he won the John Moores Painting Prize. Since retiring from his professorship of painting at the Slade School of Art, McLean has taken on a large studio in west London where he has been making increasingly large paintings and sculptural film works.

Notes to Editors:

Bernard Jacobson Gallery was founded in 1969, publishing and distributing prints by artists including Robyn Denny, Lucian Freud, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff, Henry Moore, Richard Smith, Ed Ruscha and William Tillyer. By the mid 1970s, having established himself as one of the major dealers in the international print boom, Jacobson began to show paintings and sculpture. The early 1980s saw the gallery open branches in Los Angeles and New York, expanding the range of international artists to include West Coast American artists such as Joe Goode and Larry Bell as well as modern British masters such as David Bomberg, Ivon Hitchens, Peter Lanyon, Ben Nicholson, William Scott, Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland. From 1977, the gallery moved more firmly into American and international art, with shows of artists such as Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons and Frank Stella. Recently, the gallery has held shows by the American artists Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler, Robert Rauschenberg, Roy Lichtenstein and Tom Wesselmann, while European painters include Bram Bogart and Pierre Soulages and British artists William Tillyer, Bruce McLean and Marc Vaux.

In 2004, the gallery moved to 6 Cork Street in London's Mayfair, uniting Bernard Jacobson Graphics and Bernard Jacobson Gallery under one roof. Since then, the gallery has held major exhibitions including a two-part examination of Robert Motherwell's Open series, the largest showing of the artist's work in the UK since the 1978 retrospective at the Royal Academy of Arts; a selection of new works by former President of the Royal Academy, Phillip King; a rare selection of works from Helen Frankenthaler's personal collection; and Bruce McLean's first London showing of new paintings in over fifteen years. In 2010, the gallery hosted the first UK exhibition of new work by French painter Pierre Soulages for over thirty years and a four-part exhibition of the varied works of the British artist William Tillyer. New geometrical works by Marc Vaux were on show in the exhibition New Paintings: Triptychs and Ovals in conjunction with his display at Tate Britain.

In 2011 the gallery opened a new space in New York on East 71st Street with an inaugural exhibition entitled 60 Years of British Art followed by 21 Americans, the latter showing work by major American artists including Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. Bernard Jacobson Gallery also has a strong presence at major international art fairs participating at London's Pavilion of Art and Design, The Armory Show, Art Hong Kong, Expo Chicago, Frieze Masters, Art Basel Miami, and the prestigious Art Basel where ArtInfo voted it one of the top booths of 2011 for a vast and impressive selection of works by Robert Motherwell.


Exhibition title:      Bruce McLean: The Shapes of Sculpture
                                  An exhibition of Recent Paintings

Dates:                     10 October - 3 November 2012

Location:                 6 Cork Street, London W1S 3NX
                                  Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 3431,

Opening hours:     Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm; Saturday 11am to 1pm

Catalogue:             The exhibition will be accompanied by a new publication by 
                                 Bruce McLean and Mel Gooding entitled Three Part Piece

Photosheet:             Download photosheet here


For further information and images, please contact:

Sue Bond Public Relations
Tel: +44 (0)1359 271085, Fax +44 (0)1359 271934