Scott Burton believed that art should "place itself not in front of, but around, behind, underneath (literally) the audience." In this way, he challenged ideas about sculpture's monumentality, formality, and status as an object to be looked at on a pedestal. Instead, he wanted his sculpture to occupy the same space as its beholder, to be functional and, preferably, placed in a public setting. Burton openly acknowledged a debt to Constantin Brancusi, who was the first modern sculptor to challenge the conventional distinction between aesthetic and utilitarian form. Here, the blunt geometry of Burton's seats contrasts with the material (red granite) that is visually sumptuous and warm. The artist specified two possible configurations to encourage social interactions and gathering: a ceremonial circle, as the work appears here; or side-by-side to form a long bench. An indoor work, Burton's Rock Settees, 1988, is also in the Gallery's collection.
Fabricated for NGA through (Max Protetch, New York; purchased 14 April 1998 by NGA.