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PAPER INTO SCULPTURE  
at the Nasher, by Todd Camplin

A paper napkin performs its duty by wiping away sauce from a fast food meal. Paper makes
up the books we read over a lazy summer evening. Paper in art is supposed to be flat and
contain just a sketch for a more ambitious project. Yet many contemporary artists use paper
as a means to create an artwork as finished and important as an oil painting or metal sculpture.
We can thank Giorgio Vasari for his promotion and his collection of drawings by his Renaissance
contemporaries. He was an early advocate for keeping and preserving drawings. His love of
drawings helped create a climate where eventually the paper itself would become
understood as an important element of art. Paper has come into its own by transcending
the drawing and becoming an object with surface and texture that is not just flat.
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Nasher Sculpture Center features Marco Maggi, Joshua Neustein, Noriko Ambe, and Nancy
Rubins who explore the limits of this material, paper. Slowing down and looking a little closer
is Marco Maggi’s game. His small detailed cut pieces make you want to go in close to observe
the delicateness of paper. His little cut shapes seem to float and draw shadows on the paper
surface. Maggi’s miniature world reminds me of the outside modeling of a sci-fi spaceship.
Noriko Ambe works in the tradition of altered books, the only paper becomes geological
formations. The cut and removed area remind you that those thick stacks of paper are more
than just individual pages, but rather a stacked system ready to be deconstructed. Joshua
Neustein breaks up the paper but then reconstructs it into bales. I am reminded of square
bales of hay I used when gardening. Only this mess of paper is closer to some of the post-
minimalist investigations reacting to Donald Judd’s strict idea about paper and its role in
sculpture. Judd had returned to the idea that paper was about the plan and not the art.
Neustein clearly sees that paper has a role to play in the making of a sculpture beyond just
the plan.
Paper into Sculpture  , Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, installation view, left to right: Joshua Neustein,    
C'est la vie, 2016. Acrylic and oil pastel on folded paper Anonymous loan  © Joshua Neustein    
Nancy Rubins, Drawing, 2010  Graphite pencil on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Gagosian Gallery  
© Nancy Rubins
Paper into Sculpture - , Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, installation view: Joshua Neustein, Paper Bales ,
1976 / 2017 Two paper bales Paper bales generously provided by Clampitt Paper, Dallas © Joshua
Neustein Photo: Kevin Todora

Paper into Sculpture, , Nasher Sculpture Center, installation view.  Marco Maggi,
site-specific work (detail), 2017 White archival self-adhesive labels © Marco Maggi  
Photo: Kevin Todora
Next to the Paper into Sculpture show is a collection of Esopus Magazines. This New York-based
magazine also approaches paper as both 2 and 3 dimensional. The two shows end on February
4th. Expand your mind about the paper as art and visit this show before it leaves.

I think Nancy Rubins takes the most traditional approach in the show. Although her pieces are
folded paper, she is still adding graphite on the surface and hanging the work on the wall.
Folding paper after drawing on the surface makes me cringe, but somehow the piece is
elegant and beautiful. I love the shiny graphite that seems to shine and glimmer in the light.
Esopus, , Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas, installation view: John Conway, small stellated dodecahedron Esopus
6 (2006) Nasher Sculpture Center, Gift of Marion Flores in memory of her husband Nash Flores  Photo: Kevin Todora