July 4 2011: Plastic Sculpture by Charles Ross (M.D. Magazine, 1967)
The New Generation, an exhibition of constructed sculpture (mainly by students of Anthony Caro), was shown at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1965, and much of the focus was on the use of new materials like fibreglass and plastics. During the 1960s, these materials had became ever more standard, and became linked to a certain strain of interest in science, industrial manufacturing and other questions. While not especially original (artists like Naum Gabo had been using plastics decades earlier, and the move away from plinth based sculptural forms to more expansive arrangements were also preceded by many ancestors, whether constructivist ideas about mass production or hand-made surrealist assemblage) the New Generation exhibitions, along with related moves towards kinetic art and scientific content, made the latter half of the 1960s a peak period for this kind of work. It’s long seemed to me that artists like Liliane Lijn, Chryssa and others in this period have been undeservedly overlooked in much mainstream art history. While the San Francisco (later Manhattan) based sculptor Charles Ross wasn’t an especially familiar name when I found this article on him in an old issue of M.D. magazine, indications may be that he, too, deserves a bit more attention than he’s generally received: the (seemingly still ongoing) Star Axis project, in particular, seems to promise a similar fusion of light and Land Art as the more celebrated Roden Crater of James Turrell.