Sculpture Journal

Bang! Bang! Observations on assemblage and pretend guns

Sculpture Journal (2019), 28, (2), 211–228.


This essay maps out a specific category of twentieth- and twenty-first-century sculpture that involves artists assembling objects in the manner of children making pretend guns. The characteristics of these sculptures that exist at the intersection of the found and the assembled, the sculptural and the performative, are outlined by focusing on three series of works by Claes Oldenburg, Daniel Dezeuze and Francis Alÿs. References to historian André Leroi-Gourhan’s study of prehistoric tools and weapons, as well as to psychological studies of children’s pretend play, will serve to draw out the specific relations between objects and materials, imagination and perception, that these artists set up with their pretend guns. In this way, such a category of sculpture will be shown to outline a trajectory that is distinct from the Duchampian readymade and the surrealist object as much as from conceptual assemblages such as those of Robert Filliou or the so-called appropriation art of the 1980s.

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Author details

Dezeuze, Anna