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WICHITA STATE UNIVERSITY SCULPTURE TOUR

Munster Benches, A Pair

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Munster Benches

Artist - Scott Burton
Born - 1939
Died - 1989
Origin - America
Year Built - 1986

About the Artist:  Scott Burton frequently referred to himself as a "public sculptor," an acknowledgment of both the site-specific character of his work and its accessibility.11 In Munster Benches, A Pair, 1986, he has attempted to bridge the obvious gap between fine art and the public, creating an object that is accessible rather than esoteric. The two curved benches not only function as pieces of public furniture, but they also act as art objects, subtly structuring the public space through an imaginary sphere. Burton's benches are at once aesthetically interesting as well as utilitarian; the work is functional and naturally encourages interaction. His Minimalist technique recalls the works of Donald Judd (1928-94) through the clean, spare forms and the visual absence of the artist's process. However, the impersonality of Burton's Minimalist aesthetic is tempered by the work's recognition of the human element.

Burton, a performance artist early in his career, used furniture as narrative objects and as surrogates for a human presence. Increasingly, the artist made furniture for its own sake, turning to a Minimalist language in the early 1980s. He continually stressed accessibility in both form and content and called his furniture "a rebuke to the art world." Burton's populist approach earned him a number of public commissions. The Munster Benches were commissioned in wood by the city of Munster, Germany, for Skulptur Projekte in 1987, an international outdoor sculpture exhibition held every decade. Burton later cast the benches in aluminum.

Burton studied first at the Hans Hoffman Studio in Provincetown, Massachusetts, between 1957-59. He later received a BA from Columbia University in 1962 and an MA in English from New York University the next year. He worked as an art critic in the early 1970s, before turning to performance. Burton held performances at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1972, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1973, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York in 1976. He began making wood furniture thereafter.