Inventive and subversive, McClean’s witty performances, amusing sculptures and parody paintings contradict the rigours of his academic training. Born in Glasgow in 1944, Bruce studied at Glasgow School of Art and completed his postgraduate study at St. Martin’s School of Art, London, in 1966. 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.
Often satirical in nature, Bruce’s performances are directed against the art world. 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.