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Jonathan Muecke: Objects in Sculpture



Stabilizer (STAB), 2013

Jonathan Muecke. Gift of Michael Jefferson and Heidi Mucha. Image courtesy Jonathan Muecke

Does color have shape? What is the texture of scale? Is it possible to eliminate surface? Can space expand? 

For more than a decade, American designer Jonathan Muecke (born 1983) has tackled such deceptively straightforward yet puzzling questions about the relationship between form, material, and perception through a range of creative experiments. Whether working in steel, wood, textile, or composite materials, Muecke’s intent remains consistent: to produce objects that challenge our spatial expectations and habits, prompting us to experience our physical environments—and to understand our place within them—anew. 

Vertical Expander, 2012

Jonathan Muecke. Image courtesy Jonathan Muecke

Objects in Sculpture, the designer’s first solo exhibition in a major museum, presents a selection of key works that Muecke identifies as “open objects.” Harnessing precise, spare lines and evocative shapes, the objects eschew traditional design typologies and historical references. Each work rigorously questions the interdependence and possible synthesis of formal and material phenomena. The resulting objects are curious, enigmatic, but also familiar: a rock with holes; a faceted curvature of carbon fiber felt; a five-sided, open box made of steel; a textile volume with concave surfaces; a continuous, multitiered wooden zig-zag. Muecke insists that these ascetic objects—while meticulously crafted and deliberately devoid of details—are not minimal. Instead, he argues, the objects are “maximums,” each manifesting the limits of legibility and perception, memory and apprehension, and therefore have the capacity to generate new relationships between objects, bodies, and space.

Image credits: All works by Jonathan Muecke and images courtesy Jonathan Muecke. Top to bottom: LCS (Low Concave Shape), 2018 Courtesy of Volume Gallery; CTS (Concave Textile Shape), 2019. Courtesy of Maniera Gallery; RWH (Rock With Holes), 2021. Courtesy of the artist and Volume Gallery; Shield, 2011. Courtesy of Dr. Brian Stonehocker; BOX, 2010. Courtesy of Jonathan Muecke; Scrambler, 2009. Courtesy of Dr. Brian Stonehocker.

Jonathan Muecke: Objects in Sculpture is the fourth edition of the Franke/Herro Design Series, which highlights the work of important emerging talent. The exhibition is curated by Irene Sunwoo, John H. Bryan Chair and Curator, Architecture and Design, and was conceived by Zoë Ryan, Daniel W. Dietrich, II Director at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania.

Installation Photo


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