David Getsy's magisterial book Abstract Bodies: Sixties Sculpture in the Expanded Field of Gender begins with a seemingly straightforward argument: in the 1960s, American sculptors turned to a range of nontraditional materials, and abstract or nonrepresentational sculptural forms, to reimagine the human body outside binary constructions of gender. These artists took up materials such as scrap metal, aluminum sheeting, crushed car parts, worn leather, zippers, buckles, and fluorescent bulbs in large-scale sculptural works that often appeared as assemblages of seemingly incompatible or chaotic parts, thereby invoking the human body without ever directly representing it. In so doing, they imagined the body taking on numerous shapes that could never be accurately pinned down as distinctly male or female, or else imagining so-called male and female body parts as interchangeable or fitting in unexpected ways that upended any easy ascription of gender to a...

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