In Lawrence Weschlerʼs book chronicling artist Robert Irwinʼs life, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees, Irwin recounts a time when he saw a huge James Brooks painting “blown off the wall” by a small Phillip Guston. He goes on to talk about how he realized that it was scale and the inter-relationships of the parts that conveyed power and not sheer size. Richard Tuttle has spoken about how he came to his small- scale works while working at Betty Parsons Gallery, a gallery famed for showing the large-scale works of the abstract expressionists. Parsons told him that they painted large because they were painting the expanding universe. Tuttle figured that there must be an equal and opposite force and moved off into a career of mostly diminutive and fragile sculpture.
The works in the exhibition heroes share an interest in conveying great power and great subtlety with diminutive and scrappy means. Often in sculpture small works are meant as either maquettes or models for larger works or are miniature versions of larger sculptures. None of the work in this show functions in this way; their size is necessary, whether it come from material based, process based, or a conceptually based necessity. They strive for profundity and meaning in a world that places great value on volume and size, yet as Tuttle notes, it is often the small lifeboat that survives while the larger ships sink.