Phyllida Barlow and Vincent Fecteau in conversation

August 2021

Phyllida Barlow was joined in conversation by artist Vincent Fecteau to discuss her commission, act, at Highgate Cemetery. At the Cemetery, Barlow created an imposing, sepulchral form in a dramatic and contemplative response to the funerary architecture of the site.

For more than 50 years, her large–scale installations have tested the possibilities of sculpture. Consisting of industrial or everyday materials her structures of stacked, bound and balanced materials have a challenging physical presence and yet often appear at the edge of collapse.

Since the early 1990s, Vincent Fecteau has used simple, everyday materials such as papier-mâché and clay, as well as such items as rubber bands, seashells, and string, to create abstract sculptures and collages. His forms are often incongruous or unsettling, but are characterised by their precise and sophisticated compositions.

Barlow and Fecteau discussed the commission and recent work, including Barlow’s stage set for Mozart’s 1781 opera, Idomeneo, at Bayerische Staatsoper, as well as their respective relationships to materials, sculpture, and working during lockdown.

  1. Phyllida Barlow DBE RA (born Newcastle upon Tyne, 1944) lives and works in London. In 2017, she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. Major solo exhibitions include Haus der Kunst, Munich (2021), The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019), High Line Art, New York (2018), Turner Contemporary, Margate (2017), Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh (2015), Tate Britain, London (2014) and Studio Voltaire, London (2010). Her upcoming ARTIST ROOMS presentation at Tate Modern opens to the public on 23 August.

  2. Vincent Fecteau (b. 1969) lives and works in San Francisco. His work was featured in the 2002 and 2012 Whitney Biennials and the 2013 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. Major solo exhibitions include the Art Institute of Chicago (2008), Kunsthalle Basel (2015), Vienna Secession (2016) and CAA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco (2019). A survey exhibition of his work is on view at the Museum Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, through September 5.

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