Bill Bollinger was an important post minimalist
sculpture in the late 1960s and early 1970s. One of a generation of people who changed what sculpture meant.
His early work was noted for it's use of found and industrial materials. He became famous for the quote "I only do what it is necessary to do. There is no reason to use color, to polish, to bend, to weld, if it is not necessary to do so" This led to work made of cyclone fence
, or rubber pipe
Graphite Piece, where one half of a room is filled with powdered graphite, and the other half of the room is empty, becomes a discussion of materiality, physical presence, and human impact on built space.
He was part of two art shows that defined what this new post-material sculptures would look like. The 1968 9
, at the Warehouse space of landmark dealer, Leo who represented among others, Johns, Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, and Warhol
. 9 was named after the number of artists in the show, and those artists included Giovanni Anselmo whose most famous sculpture
makes you wait for lettuce to rot so a marble block can fall, Eva Hesse
, who was known for early and innovative use of fiberglass, latex, and other forms of plastic; Stephen Kaltenbachwho moved
between linguistic conceptualism and more industrial pieces ; Bruce Nauman, the early video, audio and neon innovator; Alan Saret, and his tenuous pieces in wire
Richard Serra whose early work (pdf)
shared the industrial materials with his later work but was on a much smaller scale, Keith Sonnier who was known for abstracted neon
, and Gilberto Zorio fellow Artist Povera
with Anselmo. He was also part of the famous exhibition Live in Your Head at the Kunsthalle
Bern. A show that had 34 artists, which became a canon of process, conceptual, post-industrial, minimalist, language, and installation artists.
In 1972--Bollinger departed from his more installation and found work to make a series of cast iron work, that shared an interest in abstraction. sharing some material and scale choices with Serra
. Eventually he worked with a set of sculptures about water, that were expensive, and hard to sell. As the glitz of the 1980s replaced the slightly scruffy 1970s, his work became more and more difficult to sell and he was ignored. As interest in the 9 show developed
including Marcia Garcia Torres' pamphlet on the 9 show, interest in Bollinger slowly increased. The first major step of Bollinger's critical reception was Wade Saunder's
poetic and critical investigation of his work, published in the March, 1st issue of Art in America. Saunder's article begins with the heart breaking epigraph: "Richard Serra: There were a lot of good people in that show ("9 at Leo Castelli," December 1968). Nauman was in that show, there were a few interesting Italians in that show--
Chuck Close: Eva Hesse was in that show.
Richard Serra: Eva Hesse was ill the show. There was a really talented guy--1 don't know what happened to him--Bill Bollinger.
Chuck Close: Bollinger was very interesting. There were some beautiful Sonniers in that show, the best he ever did, I think.
--New York City, Oct. 2, 1995, from The Portraits Speak: Chuck Close in Conversation with 27 of his Subjects (New York, A.R.T. Press, 1997)
It took almost a decade, but that 2000 article has now resulted in a set of major career retrospectives, 40 years after Bollinger's death. The first, in February 2011, was at the Kunstmuseum Lichtenstein. (youtube video of the show, in German, but good images.
This show moved to the Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh, in November. The curator of that show
Christiane Meyer-Stoll had a conversation with the curator of the Fruitmarket, Fiona Bradley. They also produced a major catalog
. Here is the Scotsman's
review of the show. Here is The Glasgow's Journal
. Here is the visual Art Blog Distorted
That show is now at the Sculpture Center of Long Island. Here is the notice of the Sculpture Center
. Here is an Art Info
This retrospective might rework his reputation.