Puff Piece On inflatable art.

Puff Piece On inflatable art.

Issue 46

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Arts & Culture

  • Words George Upton
  • Photograph Melissa Schriek

Conceptual art is sometimes accused of lacking substance. There is at least one particular field where the detractors would be, in a technical sense, correct: inflatable art. 

Since the 1960s, artists have been exploring the potential to create sculptures that are at once monumental and fragile. Warhol’s Silver Clouds (1966) uses a proprietary mix of air and helium to make a scene in which metallic pillows float lazily around a room. Anish Kapoor’s abstract sculptures grow to fill vast spaces, inspiring a sense of awe and contemplation at their overwhelming scale.

Inflatable art can be playful too, channeling the nostalgic associations we have with blow-up objects and fun. Piero Manzoni’s Artist’s Breath (1960) consists of a balloon inflated by the artist, satirizing our fetish...

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