Scott Burton

Scott Burton, Sculptor Whose Art Verged on Furniture, Is Dead at 50 (New York Times, January 1, 1990)

Scott Burton, an American sculptor whose work balanced stubbornly and elegantly between art and furniture while evolving into a new kind of public sculpture, died of AIDS on Friday at Cabrini Medical Center in New York City. He was 50 years old and lived in Manhattan.

Mr. Burton worked in a tradition of utilitarian modernism that started with the Russian Constructivists and was continued by the De Stijl and Bauhaus artists. His greatest achievement may lie in his forays into public art, which evolved in accordance with his belief that art should ”place itself not in front of, but around, behind, underneath (literally) the audience.”

By the end of his life, Mr. Burton’s simple yet eye-catching benches, stools and chairs, cut from smooth and sometimes jagged pieces of granite, could often be found with people sitting on them in several North American cities, including Seattle, Cincinnati, New York City, Portland, Ore., and Toronto.

Mr. Burton, a small, wiry man known for his erudition, verbal precision and explosive laugh, worked as a critic and an editor for Art News and Art in America before becoming a full-time artist. He emerged in the late 1960′s and early 70′s as part of an artistic generation that came of age in the shadow of Minimalism.