Bounds of Sense

Richard Deacon1987


Maastricht, Netherlands

In the early 1980s, the work of the British artist Richard Deacon and that of a few others was introduced as the ‘new British sculpture’. Deacon’s work is a counter-reaction to the conceptual sculpture of the previous generation in which the artist was essentially the one contriving the work of art, not necessarily the one executing it. In Deacon’s view, the creation of a sculpture cannot be dissociated from the actual skills of craftsmanship. He makes sculptures with organic curves, built up primarily of coiled lines. As in many sculptures dating from the 1980s, he uses curved steel and laminated hardboard. To underscore his dictum on artisanal skills, he makes sure that the joins in the material are clearly visible.

The title Bounds of Sense probably refers to a famous twentieth-century philosophy book by Sir Peter Strawson that centres on the connection between the world, the senses and the ‘self’, as well as on that between form and content. The work consists of a metal lower part and a curling, organic form constructed from strips of laminated hardboard. The sculpture’s lines shift as the viewer moves around it. The glued construction grips the balancing structure like a kind of paper clip, mass and centre are absent.


  • Title: Bounds of Sense
  • Creator: Richard Deacon
  • Date: 1987
  • Physical Dimensions: 300 x 183 x 215 cm
  • Provenance: Acquired. Richard Deacon, Bounds of sense, 1987, CC BY SA 3.0, ©Peter Cox
  • Medium: Laminated hardboard, galvanised and curved steel

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