Box, Body, Burial: The sculptural imagination of Keith Arnatt
8 February – 26 April 2009
Exhibition in the Upper Sculpture Study Gallery, Leeds Art Gallery
Through his preoccupations with the box, body and burial in the early part of his career, Arnatt challenged sculptural convention long before he was seen as a photographer.
Keith Arnatt (1930-2008) is best known for his conceptual photography from the 1960s and early 1970s and his subsequent documentary photography of people and objects in the landscape, yet this exhibition shows that his artistic roots are also firmly grounded in sculpture.
One of Arnatt’s best known works - ‘Trouser-Word Piece’ - shows the artist wearing a placard bearing the provocative statement ‘I’m a Real Artist’. Another key work, ‘Self Burial’ sees Arnatt gradually sinking into the ground in a series of sequential photographs. These works, presented in the exhibition along with a number of fascinating, lesser-known drawings and photographic documentation, highlight the sculptural dimension of Arnatt’s thinking during the early part of his career.
From his fabrication of minimalist boxes to his creation of cubic holes in the ground, from his hiding and revealing of the body in space to his manipulation of natural and man-made materials in the rural environment - all these works reveal a sculptural imagination which informed Arnatt’s photographic practice in the 1960s and beyond.
As an artist, Arnatt has always defied categorisation. This exhibition blurs the boundaries further by suggesting that Arnatt is not only ‘a real artist’ and ‘a real photographer’, but also ‘a real sculptor’.