For Students
Mark di Suvero, Shang Mark di Suvero, Orion Beverly Pepper, Ternary Marker Lucas Samaras, Stiff Box No. 12 Erwin Binder, Requiem Michele Oka Doner, Angry Neptune, Salacia, and Strider Charles Ginnever, Daedalus

Outdoor Sculpture: Lucas Samaras

Lucas Samaras
United States, born 1936
Stiff Box No. 12
1971
Cor-Ten steel
Gift of the Lannan Foundation in Honor of the Pelham Family, 1997/1.138

4. Lucas Samaras

“Rather than saying I am a sculptor I could have said I was a boxer.”
“The Greek word for box is kouti which also means stupid.”

—Lucas Samaras

Lucas Samaras’s diverse oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, photography, and performance. In the late 1950s and 60s, he participated in Allan Kaprow’s “Happenings”—a radical form of performance art associated with the Fluxus movement. Today, the notoriously reclusive artist is perhaps best known for his distorted photographic self-portraits, which he calls “Photo-Transformations,” and his unusual assemblages.

Samaras’s engagement with the box as a sculptural format began in 1961, when he began a series of box assemblages covered inside and out with materials such as pins, razor blades, and hair. By the early 1970s he had produced a subcategory of this work that he dubbed Stiff Boxes; in these he used Cor-Ten steel to make sculptures that explored balance and structure while still referencing the box form. In Stiff Box No. 12, a box is placed at the center of the piece near the implied dividing line between two very distinct halves; this creates a dichotomy between the soft, graceful curves on one side and the sharp, angular edges on the other. With Stiff Box No. 12 Samaras has created a visual puzzle with ambiguous psychological valences.