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SCULPTURE, A Journey to the Circumference of the Earth
Robin Peck

full size book cover

“For Robin Peck, sculpture is a real-life adventure story. No writer gets closer to showing how space and form imprint on the imagination. To read along with Peck is to understand how sculpture comes to be.”
— Richard Rhodes, Editor, Canadian Art

“Wandering around the fields of architecture, history, paleontology and museology, Peck reveals that contemporary sculpture and prehistoric fossil are both mysterious, gigantic simulacra touched by a multitude of unknown hands. Peck makes highly imaginative juxtapositions ... [combining] imagination and intelligence.”
— Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

“Robin Peck is among the most original essayists in the language today. He is an assiduous if unorthodox scholar, and takes infinite pains in researching his often wayward, but always engaging, dissertations on art and artists. He goes against the grain — but he has a fine mind, and the impeccable credentials required to do so authentically: he is a critic on the inside of criticism, an artist on the inside of art. And if he sometimes deflates the monstres sacrés of our period it is always to enlarge their humanity, not to demolish or dismiss their art — for he is a generous, open and receptive interpreter, notwithstanding the unusual viewpoint from which he often speaks.”
— Dennis Young, NSCAD University, Halifax NS

Robin Peck has been writing with an emphasis on new sculpture since 1977. His essays appear regularly in a variety of international art publications and as exhibition catalogue essays. Peck has developed his writing as a sculptural travelogue that documents a circumambulatory viewing experience derived from the viewing of sculpture and engaged with Baudrillardian notions of post-modernist travel. (See his essay “Sculpture and the Sculptural in Halifax and Vancouver” in Vancouver Anthology, the institutional politics of art, ed. Stan Douglas, Talonbooks, 1991).
Sculpture, A Journey to the Circumference of the Earth is a study of the philosophy, history and material technology of sculpture within the context of a travel narrative. The book structure follows Peck’s travel in the field of sculpture with a companion, “the sculptor” (a very real but composite character of shifting gender), from New York to Transylvania, across Europe to Paris, England and Iceland. The manuscript for Sculpture, A Journey to the Circumference of the Earth, was written in 2002, under the tenure of a Canada Council Senior Arts Grant in Criticism. It is based on a series of notes begun in the late 1980s that continued to the present day. (Some portions of these notes have been previously published as magazine essays in C Magazine, Parachute, Boo Magazine, Canadian Art, or as essays in exhibition catalogues).
This book includes a bibliography and extensive footnotes. It will be of interest to persons with an art background (students, teachers, working artists, etc.) but this is not a prerequisite. This is an engaging, readable book that can appeal to a general audience and a general art audience. There are few contemporary books in this field and none that use the form of a sculptural travelogue. Of modest size, this book is an easily transportable object that will fit lightly to hand as a travel companion. Thus the book as sculptural object will be an extension of Peck’s sculptural travelogue narrative.

Sculpture, A Journey to the Circumference of the Earth

Chapter 1. Travels with a Sculptor
Introduction; the Sculptor and New York; Richard Serra's Torqued Ellipses.

Chapter II. Dia and the Dinosaur
New York Sculpture; Two institutions: The Dia Center for the Arts and the American Museum of Natural History in New York; Contemporary Sculpture and the re-creation of the Dinosaur; Dan Graham, Jeff Wall and Glass Architecture.

Chapter Ill. A Circumambulation of the Transylvanian Plateau
Brancusi’s Ansamblul de la Tirgu Jiu in Romania; Transylvania — Carving, Kineticism and Vampirism; Plaster and Modernism; Whiteness; Brancusi and Orientalism; the glass castles of Dracula and Dan Flavin; the crystalline.

Chapter IV. Sculpture on the Orient Express
The Orient Express from Bucharesti to Paris; Brancusi’s journey to Paris, Nomadism, Photography and sculpture, Brancusi’s Paris studio, Giacometti’s fines de platre de Paris, Les Animaliers and Modernism.

Chapter V. Henry Moore in the Pub
Paris to England; The Sculptor and the Mauser, Gaudier-Brzeska and the sculpture of early Modernism; The sculpture of Henry Moore and the English sense of place as embodied in the Public House; A socialization of British sculpture since 1945.

Chapter VI. A Journey to The Circumference of the Earth
Travel to Iceland; circumference and center, sculpture as a consequence of violence and beauty, sculpture museums, the crystalline and Richard Serra’s Afangar installation in Iceland.


Robin Peck was born and grew up in rural Alberta, Canada within sight of the Rocky Mountains. He had a memorable rural childhood (architect Douglas Cardinal was a neighbour), but left Alberta in 1968, first for art school in British Columbia, then for the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Since then he has worked as an artist, a writer on art, an independent curator and an educator. He has taught sculpture, art history and criticism in various universities and colleges and has lived in several North American cities.
It was in Vancouver, British Columbia during the mid-1980s that Robin Peck first began to develop a sculptural travelogue narrative within an essay format, a writing form that would be compatible with his experience of producing and viewing sculpture. He exhibits at Canada, an independent art gallery in New York City and his essays appear regularly in a variety of international art publications.
In the late 1990s Robin Peck returned to rural Alberta, to live on the site of his grandfather’s former ranch (est. 1890) where he has established his permanent studio residence in the midst of a private wildlife refuge. From there it is a one hour drive west to the Rocky Mountains, a one drive hour east to the Red Deer River Badlands and a one hour drive south to an international airport. Peck maintains that he needs all three.

• media and review copy mailout
• Book Launch Tour
Sept: Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, AB
4 Oct 2004, 7 pm: Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, AB
14 Oct 2004, 8 pm: Contemporary Art Gallery, 555 Nelson St, Vancouver, BC
16 Oct 2004: Open Space, 510 Fort St-2nd floor, Victoria, BC
17-18 Nov 2004: University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
1 Dec 2004, 12 noon: Boardroom, NSCAD University, Halifax, NS
2 Dec 2004, 5 pm: Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Hollis St, Halifax, NS
12 Dec 2004: Canada Gallery, 55 Chrystie St, New York
16 Dec 2004, 5:30 pm, Art Metropole, 788 King St W, Toronto, ON

Release: Aug 2004
Essays (BISAC: ART026000 Art / Sculpture; ART009000 Art / Criticism); TRV016000 Travel / Museums, Tours, Points of Interest
Rights: All rights available
124 pp / 5.5 x 8.5 / trade paper
Broken Jaw Press
ISBN 1-55391-032-X, $19.95