John Chamberlain: The Foam Sculptures


Text by Klaus Kertess, Marianne Stockebrand, Iris Winkelmeyer


A special exhibition of foam sculptures by John Chamberlain was on view at Chinati in 2005–06. The foam pieces, which are largely unknown, date from 1966 through 1970 and are made from commercially available polyurethane foam, which Chamberlain cut, folded, and tied to make a kind of instant sculpture—direct, graceful, and immediate. The work presents another aspect, complementary to the steel sculptures, of Chamberlain’s unique exploration of form and materiality. There were approximately thirty pieces in the exhibition, which was the first comprehensive survey of this work since 1966, and this is the first publication to address them. Its first section is based on the 2005–2006 exhibition, with installation shots and photographs of each exhibited piece; the second section assembles a total of 85 foam sculptures, constituting an almost complete catalogue of this group and an update to Chamberlain’s catalogue raisonné of 1986. Essays by Klaus Kertess, Iris Winkelmeyer and Marianne Stockebrand treat the sculptures in the larger context of Chamberlain’s oeuvre and discuss the issue of conservation.