On the Cover:
Jun Kaneko with 2 in-progress sculptures in the kiln at Mission Clay Products in Pittsburg, Kansas, 2006. Photo: Takashi Hatakeyama.
Sculptors by and large tend to stress the importance of materials in their work, since they have such a range to work with. But I would like to follow many of the artists in this issue by honing in on one quality of material—color. Cover artist and winner of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture Award, Jun Kaneko, defines the surface of his extraordinary ceramic works with color and patterning; and, as George W. Neubert points out in his essay, Kaneko also produces a number of emotional ranges through color. Because Karla Black often uses raw materials like plaster powder, the hues of her installations always take center stage, creating what writer Anna McNay calls “almost formless orchestrations of color, light, and reflection.” In Jean-Michel Othoniel’s brick constructions, made from glass and other materials, “intense colors,” he says, “exalted by the concept of beauty, scream with the urgency of our need to speak.” And while Pablo Butteri’s objects and installations in salt, coal, and glass, among other materials, are restricted to a monochromatic palette, he finds exploration within that narrower range as roomy as the full spectrum. For instance, the “Degraded Salary” series, he explains, “is metaphorically represented in a gray scale generated from the burning and transformation of materials, which are then used to pigment salt.” Even Shigeo Toya, who works in wood and tree ash, relies on the highly variegated tones of his materials to emphasize texture and shape. So frequently overlooked, color acts as a sort of lifeblood in sculpture, pumping it up to its full dimensions: without it, three-dimensional works would inevitably deflate. —Daniel Kunitz