In the 1960s, the American art scene was divided between the east and west coasts and underwent a profound shift in artistic practice, due in large part to the development of sculpture. Tony DeLap was part of this change in San Francisco, as were Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Richard Serra and others in New York, whose works, manufactured by subcontractors in industrial materials, are regular in volume.
The lack of artifice is one of the major features of minimalism. DeLap’s work is characterised by the broadness of his approach as he plays with the limits of moderation. The sculpture Tango Tangles II meets the requirement of pared-down modularity. Yet the curves of its two parts give it a somewhat whimsical air, as do the variety of positions and connections between the two, which can be changed whenever it is put on display, changing how it is perceived, and the title, which refers to a Charlie Chaplin film.
Tango Tangles II is one of a set of sculptures, some flat, some three-dimensional, representing sections of the same ‘ribbon’, all with titles taken from Chaplin films – Modern Times, Triple Trouble, and so on. The series is rooted in the infinite potential of the variations of three shapes and four colours, all standardised and capable of being combined. None of the works has a fixed composition; instead, all can be assembled and rearranged in space. The ‘tango tangle’ of the title perfectly describes the sculpture, ‘dancing’ with itself, and the two words, differentiated by just a couple of letters, suggests change in constancy and constancy in change.
The work was shown at the Dilexi Gallery of San Francisco stand at the second Salon international de galeries-pilotes curated at the Museum in 1966 under the leadership of its then director René Berger.
Barbara Rose, Tony DeLap Painting: Sculpture and Works on Paper 1962-2013, Santa Fe, Radius Books, 2014.
Yves Aupetitallot and Catherine Lepdor (eds.), g.p. 1.2.3. Le Salon international de galeries-pilotes à Lausanne 1963 1966 1970/The International Show of Pilot Galleries at Lausanne 1963 1966 1970, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 2002: n. 2.
René Berger, 2e Salon international de galeries-pilotes: artistes et découvreurs de notre temps, exh. cat. Lausanne, Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 1966: 44-45.