Our backs are frequently up against the wall... that is to say, our sculptural backs. At a recent art show I was commiserating with a fellow sculptor about the fact that sculptures are sometimes put on a pedestal and pushed back against a wall at shows. This is generally done simply to facilitate the flow of viewing traffic, without regard to 360 degree view needed to fully take in the complete composition of a 3-dimensional form. This not only limits the available views of the piece, but it often causes the piece to be overlooked entirely as viewers look "past" the piece to see what is on the wall behind it. Exhibit venues have varying amounts of display area and, obviously, it is important to establish a set up that allows for optimum viewing and movement throughout the space available. If space allows it, it is certainly in the best interest of gallery and artist to provide display arrangements that optimize viewing of all work.
One of the reasons I work in sculptural forms is that I appreciate the opportunity to explore and become a part of the actual space in which the work exists. I can "get to the other side" - and see it! I also enjoy the process of creating a 3-dimensional composition that can provide viewers with visual clues that lead them through the forms, surfaces, and spaces that I have created. The impression that of a piece of sculpture makes can change, slightly or dramatically, as one moves around it, providing constant revelations about the true nature of its form. 360 degree access is essential... without that, it would be like looking at a black and white photo of an Impressionist painting or reading just the first chapter of a novel - you would be missing the full experience. So, the next time you pass a sculpture...stop and see what's on the other side.
*See full views of 'Quandry', 'Pole Bender', and '12Balls' in the Sculpture section of this website.