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EXHIBITION

REVIEW

Scott Burton At Albion, 8 Hester Road, London SW11, until 2 June Although the wave of recent retrospectives and surveys devoted to the art of the 1980s might appear to have been allencompassing, what it has left behind is the period's bombast and Classicism. Painters such as Julian Schnabel and David Salle, and the kind of stylistic rhetoric that produced, in architecture, the likes of Canary Wharf, have been thoroughly rejected. So one might doubt the public's thirst for a survey of the art-furniture of Scott Burton, even one as extensive as this, with more than 20 objects ranging from the beginning of his concentration on furniture, in the mid-1970s, to the time of his death from an AIDS-related illness in 1989.

Burton first came to prominence in the 1970s, when he produced pared-down performances, often involving a single actor interacting with furniture. Eventually the actors disappeared and the furniture was left alone, but rather than opting to irt with design, as figures such as Jorge Pardo have begun to do today, Burton continued to work within the gallery system and produce one-offs.

He enjoyed considerable success throughout the 1980s, yet his work surely embodies much that curators now seem to want to ignore about that time: the grandiose gestures to the ancient and Classical past in works such as Ziggurat Table, a at surface whose legs are ziggurats; the slick gloss of the thin-surfaced tripod Hectapod Table; the pastels, which appear in the Child's Table and Chair; and, above all, the period's will to power, which Burton sums up in ironic fashion in a design entitled Slave Table, with thin, unadorned metal that's bent into the shape of a human figure on all fours.

Burton was diverse in his sources: occasionally he would draw on the American vernacular for objects such as the Lawn Chairs, while sometimes, for works such as the Sling Chair - a leather seat hanging from a tubular steel frame - he would raid Modernist designers such as Marcel Breuer. But the most important inuence on Burton came from Brancusi, by way of Minimalism. A few works here, such as the bollard-like series of Concrete End Tables, remind one of the Romanian sculptor, but there is much more - the massive weight of the Square and Cube Table - that reminds one of corporate plazas.

To be sure, much of this is no recommendation for Burton, yet Albion's show is still a beauty to behold, so attered is it by Norman Foster's superb gallery space. And many of the objects are undeniably remarkable: the pair of Lava Rock Chairs are gorgeous lumps of red stone, like asteroids with smooth surfaces sawn out of them. Burton was an intelligent interpreter of his decade's styles and moods, sometimes above them, more often in thrall to them, but whatever the case, this show brings back strong memories.

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