Book Release & Signing: American Sculpture 1951 by Peter Dudek

American Sculpture 1951

Book Release and Signing by Peter Dudek


6:30 PM | Mar 13 (Wed), 2024

@ Bungee Space, 13 Stanton St, New York, NY 10002

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Peter Dudek will present his recent limited edition artist book, American Sculpture 1951. It’s a reimagining of the catalog of the same name published by the Metropolitan Museum of Art for the exhibition of the same name. He will speak about how the idea for the book came about, his interest in old catalogs and how the project evolved.

In addition to signed copies of the book, limited edition prints based on the book will also be available for purchase.

About the artist:

"Early on my artwork was concerned with built things, architectural structures and, as it evolved, the dialog between sculpture and modern architecture. Aspects of museum display crept into the work, which then led to a flurry of curatorial projects. Currently my practice consists of sculpture, installations, books, drawing, photography, printmaking and the occasional bit of writing with a dash of curating thrown in. I do not paint."

Peter Dudek


Artist Peter Dudek is delighted to announce the publication of American Sculpture 1951, a conceptually re-envisioned facsimile-like artist book of an old exhibition catalog by the same title. The original was produced by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to accompany a large group exhibition of contemporary sculptors. The show included 94 artists out of which 49 had their artworks impressively featured in the catalog.

Dudek, a sculptor himself, first found and purchased the catalog back in 2018 while perusing the aisles and display stacks of a used books store. Naturally drawn to the subject matter, but even more to the exquisite, photogravure-like quality of the rich black & white reproductions, Dudek was especially enamored by the aged physicality of the pages and cover now showing an almost sepia overtone, slight fraying of the spine’s edges, and some grain-like splotches. The word “PRESS” was stamped in upper right corner of the front cover and the otherwise blank back side had handwritten notes in pencil.

Looking closely at the 49 sculptures spotlighted in the catalog, Dudek was at first surprised at the predominance of figurative pieces. Although the American art scene in those days is now known for its embrace of abstraction, you wouldn’t know it from the catalog’s Images. The curator’s foreword claimed that sculpture was less willing to abandon realism than painting had at that time. This would have explained why only a handful of abstract works were showcased.

However, Dudek found most intriguing the way this seemingly simple, soft-cover 7” x 10” book of around 60 pages, has kept its format and time only added an aged surface sensuality. In fact the front cover’s design suggested an element of graphic abstraction that is remarkably minimalist. Additionally Dudek noticed how, a handful of images, due to the rich black ink, appeared as beautifully alluring apparitions from one side of the page to the other. Ironically it was two abstract sculptures and their placement in the book that produced this most immediately visible result: David Smith’s Flight and Leo Amino’s Triumphant Warriors. Fascinated by this poetic seepage Dudek imagined the catalog not as a static, entropic, and physically fragile document, but as a book that has reconfigured the artworks inside its pages. The catalog - this book - became a creative act unto itself and an ongoing process.

Curious about possibilities of using these graphic afterimages effect as a starting point for a new project, Dudek began scanning some pages of the catalog to use as ideas. Unexpectedly the intensity of the scanner’s light reached three, sometimes even four, pages deep. These additional layers from other pages further changed and reconfigured the original sculptures. The new images suggested morphed pieces; animated collaborations; the figurative pieces were transforming into abstract forms or otherwise creating movie stills of surreal narratives.

Dudek realized a new catalog was needed, a re-envisioned American Sculpture 1951, one that would participate in and further elaborate this ongoing entropic ritual.

Text by Peter Dudek

Poster Designer & Editor: Shuyu Peng