Bruce McLean is known for his witty performances, amusing sculptures and parody paintings, which contradict the rigours of his academic training.
McLean was born in 1944 in Glasgow and studied at Glasgow School of Art, and later at Saint Martin’s School of Art in London, from 1963 to 1966. In reaction to what he regarded as the academicism of his teachers he began making sculpture from rubbish. Rejecting the notion that sculpture should never be placed upon a plinth, as instructed by his tutors, McLean placed frames, pedestals and plinths at the very centre of his work to mock established art forms.
His ‘Pose Work for Plinths’, 1971, illustrates his keen eye for absurdity. Draping his body across three plinths of varying heights, Bruce daringly mimics Henry Moore’s reclining figures and demonstrates his desire to break with the establishment.
In 1972 he was invited to exhibit at the Tate and even this was not without mocking intent, McLean opting for a ‘retrospective’ lasting for only one day. McLean was finally appointed Head of Graduate Painting at The Slade School of Fine Art, in spite of his apparent rejection of traditional values!