Scott Burton

(American, 1939-1989)

Benches, 1985

Pink granite; 36 x 36 x 90 inches each

Sculptor and performance artist Scott Burton was known for his large-scale work in granite and bronze that elevate every-day furnishings to the level of fine art. Coming of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s at the apogee of Minimalism, Burton’s work erased the boundaries between furniture and sculpture, altering the way the public engaged with art. He believed that art should not be placed in front of the viewer, but rather around, behind, and literally underneath. Like many of Burton’s mediations on furniture, Benches is an amalgam of abstract considerations of surface, form, material, and color at the same time that it reflected an understanding of a tradition of utilitarian modernism extending from the Russian Constructivists to De Stijl to the artists of the Bauhaus. Through these overarching concerns, the work eschewed traditional definitions of both art and furniture design at the same time that it advanced a new kind of public sculpture. Architect Phillip Johnson, who designed the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design building, specifically recommended Burton for this site-specific work. Burton died of AIDS in 1989 at the age of fifty. Burton received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from New York University.


University of Houston

Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and Design

South Exterior