The last exhibition, which dealt comprehensively with the question “What is modern sculpture?”, took place in 1986 at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris under the title »”Qu'est-ce que la sculp- ture moderne?”. The exhibition Negative Space at ZKM | Karlsruhe picks up the spear where the Centre Pompidou dropped it.
Since antiquity, the history of Western sculpture has been closely linked to the idea of the body. Whether carved, modeled or cast, statues have been designed for centuries as solid monoliths – as substantial and self-contained entities, as more or less powerful and weighty positive formations in space. Our expectations con- cerning modern or contemporary sculpture are still essentially driv- en by the concept of body sculpture, which is formally based on the three essential categories of mass, unbroken volume, and grav- ity. Whether body-related like Auguste Rodin's or abstract like Richard Serra's, sculpture is still and foremost mass, volume, and gravity.
The exhibition Negative Space endeavors to change the dominat- ing view of modern and contemporary sculpture by telling a differ- ent story. With the aim to investigate the relationship between sculpture and space in a decidedly spatial way, the presented art works address the sculptural phenomenon in relation to diverse spatial concepts: Open spaces, surrounding, hollow and intermedi- ate spaces, mirror, light and shadow spaces, virtual data spaces, etc. The exhibition offers a comprehensive overview of the art of sculpture, which – in contrast to the traditional concept – is com- mitted to contour, emptiness, and levitation. Visitors will encounter what is light instead of heavy, what is not full but empty, what is marked open instead of closed, what is not dense but diaphanous, airy, and light.