Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
I am so glad that Swallow and Museworthy have caused me to look again at Bernini’s greatest master piece. This has crystallised an idea I have had for years but have postponed and put off and delayed, and considered and thought about and got concerned about and worried about and thought about again and lost confidence about and forgot about and and and. I am going to do it. It will take two years, major project. Not controversial, not been done before, not ugly (!), bronze and smaller version in parian ware. Wait out. Yes. Muumm, that Californian shiraz I have just had for lunch was very good!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
These are some pictures to illustrate my answer to Swallow here:
With thanks to SCALA for some of the photos.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I mean no disrespect for either of these two great sculptors. They, like Beethoven and Mozart, are pillars of our western art. Nevertheless I have reservations especially about Michelangelo. Neither an academic nor even well read in Art History I am a simple sculptor with strong but malleable views.
If you were an alien with no prejudices, no foreknowledge of these sculptors would you believe that Michelangelo’s David and Pieta were by the same artist?
If you knew the story of David and Goliath and were asked which of the two Michelangelo was trying to depict; using reason only, who would it be?
If you did not know what the Pieta was meant to depict, honestly would you believe it to be a Mother and Son subject?
In the first I would argue that he is huge; facially very ugly and anatomically wrong (head and hands too big).
In the first, even if Mary had borne Jesus at the age of 16 she would have been approaching 50. The actress Sarah Barnhart was also a sculptress and produced this extraordinary work. Surly the great pillar of Renaissance sculpture could have come somewhat closer to the emotion framework Frank Lin mentions. I do not deny, it is very beautiful and moving but for a different story.
Now the first book of Samuel, chapter 16 vv 12 describes David ‘of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look too.’ Judging by the number of intimate relations he subsequently had with women, how could we possibly doubt that? How also could we think that Michelangelo would have missed this? He was well able to create beautiful male faces!
Michelangelo’s attempts at sculpting women are a laugh, they are men with breasts.
Bernini’s work, like Mozart seems to pour out of him, unlike his great predecessor he does not destroy his work (does he?), or even cross anything out! He is streets ahead of him in animated action. Who could miss St Theresa’s passionate emotions either?
It is not so much a matter of who is best, the guy who comes after is always at an advantage, he or she knows what they have to surpass. In their own way they were both ground breakers of sorts.
(On a more technical point, I understand that Michelangelo believed in carving from one block of marble where Bernini used multiple blocks joined together facilitating more difficult poses.)
Friday, May 23, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Same sculptor, same girl, same title but diferent work;
I have never been a great fan of relief but there are exceptions and here is one. Volubilis (a flower petals gradually unfurling ) by Alfred Boucher (1850-1934), he made a few variations of this study and here are two. I recommend a visit to Wikipedia on this it illustrates the development of an idea rather well.
It seemed somewhat poignant after the last post on Rodin!
At the Paris Salon of 1893, the public was astonished to discover a scrawny, old female nude tangled in her long hair: Camille Claudel’s Clotho.
In the master’s studio, three sculptors bluntly took up the theme of physical old age in women (specifically, osteology: the study of bone formation). First, Rodin created The Helmet-Maker’s Beautiful Wife, completed in 1889. His collaborator Jules Desbois was working on Misery at almost the same time. Then, Claudel executed Clotho. A comparison of the three works shows how, in the same studio, new ideas take form and evolve differently, according to the individual viewpoints of the artists. “The only ugliness in art is that which has no character,” Rodin said. In these works, Rodin and his studio broke with the nineteenth-century tradition of portraying idealized subjects.
Rodin unflinchingly observed the aged body. Desbois showed the nude old woman in an attitude of shamed propriety, letting the last tattered rags of poverty fall away. Claudel created a hallucinatory allegory of Fate holding the thread of Life.
What a wonderful time of year, The Season: The Chelsea Flower show starts it off, but for some of us there are things like the 19th & 20th Century European Sculpture London, New Bond Street,
Thursday, 29th May 2008, 10:30 AM. At Sotheby’s.
This is a feast for buyers and art lovers. There is an online catalogue and I commend it to you, whether you can afford it or not there is some beautiful work up for sale.
Important Note for Art Lovers
There is a vast amount of fine art in private hands and for most of us we only get to see it when it is sold! So do take this opportunity. (Even if you are lucky enough to be invited to a home with great works of art in it, it is rude to look too obviously at it. The reason I believe is that it can be miss-understood; you might be looking to see if it is real, a copy or a print! Very sad really especially if it is the real thing!)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
One of my favourites of his, is this emotionally charged work at a time when his relationship with Claudel dies.
There are lots of wonderful stories about him a couple of which I will borrow here.
Martin Gayford reported this in the Telegraph review 18 months ago.
The dancer Isadora Duncan recalled an encounter with Auguste Rodin. She visited the Sculptors studio, where, she said, “He showed his works with simplicity of the very great. Sometimes he murmured the names of his statues, but one felt that names meant little to him. He ran his hands over them and caressed them.” By and by, he took “a small quantity of clay” and pressed it in his hands. Breathing hard, in “a few moments”, Rodin had made “a woman’s breast that palpitated beneath his fingers”. Next, they jumped in a cab and went to Duncan’s studio, where she demonstrated a new dance wearing her customary Grecian tunic. At this point, the artist seemed to lose sight of the distinction between statue and woman. Soon, Duncan was given the same treatment as his works of art.
“He gazed at me with lowered lids, his eyes blazing, and then, with the same expression that he had before his works, he came towards me. He ran his hands over my neck, breast, stroked my arms and ran his hands over my hip, my bare legs and feet. He began to knead my whole body as if it were clay.” She extricated herself, to her later regret, and sent him away “bewildered”. Many others did not…….as Ruth Butler puts it, genius was “the ultimate aphrodisiac”……he was besieged by young women…..
(Gayford’s article is well worth reading in full!)
Now some would suggest that he was just an old lecher…but….the other story I enjoyed was this one from Irene Korn’s book Auguste Rodin Master of sculpture. ISBN 1-85501-887-x
In his later years, Rodin was often accused of being obsessed with women and with six. (intended typo). The British painter William Rothenstein recalls a conversation with Rodin in his 1931 book Men and Memories:
“During a walk Rodin embarrassed me by remarking: people say I think too much about women.” I was going to answer with conventional sympathy, “but how absurd!” when after a moment’s reflection, added, “Yet, after all, what is there more important to think about?”
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Emil Gaudissard 1872- 1956 (Allegory of Victory and Progress) includes a relief of a horse and cart/carriage on the back. (It seems that girls have always been needed to sell cars, or is it that girls are attracted to fast cars as much as we chaps are!)
I have not re-read Cindy’s essay but concentrated here on your comment Chris.
Emotion illustrated; emotion engendered, I understand.
One point that I want to clear up in my own mind is your use of literary.
There are for me two ways I can interpret that word.
One – illustrating a person or subject from a written source such as a story or historical figure.
And Two – a ‘style’ of artistic expression.
The first I understand the second I do not.
For example let us take Eve here. (I have a beautiful picture of Eve which I have mislaid but when I find it I will add it to my 100 top). She is in a very strange and rather awkward stance, in fact not a very natural position and not dissimilar to your Adam here. If I was to be asked what emotion they were feeling, I would go for the feeling ones gets when in disgraced but only in retrospect because I know the story having read the Bible. If I hadn’t then may be I would have said that Eve was cold (as in ‘La Frileuse’) and that Adam was about to throw the discus or perhaps on the run up to bowl (as in Cricket).
Now this may be heresy, or frivolity, or mockery, or you may consider me a Sassenach or just plain dumb, but when I actually look at the surfaces of Rodins’ work and try and understand the relationship with the surrounding space I become even more at a loss, the fog descends around me.
When I look at Rodin I see a departure from his immediate predecessors and contemporaries. What he lacks in anatomical accuracy he gains in expressive vitality and freshness. He employs the viewer’s natural ability to ‘fill in’ and makes it ‘work’ without loosing credibility. For me some of his poses are too ‘natural’ to capture real emotion (The Kiss) and others are just awkward and uncomfortable. But he is clever; I love this but this is even better and this is quite brilliant.
Nevertheless, I accept that Rodin was an important creator of fine sculpture and deserves his place in the history books and museums, I could even live with one or two of his works (this one for instance) but I do not get a feeling of much joy from him in fact quite the opposite. ‘The Gates Of Hell’ is just too successful! He was a great deal better at the female form that Michelangelo!
It is joy that I get from Clodion. The terra cotta texture of his ‘flesh’, the tickling of the ‘male gaze’ (as Amanda puts it) in his subject matter, the complexity of his decoration in the fashion of his time and the amazing success technically of an often very complex group adds up to fantastic works of real Art.
But I wonder if his work is profound? Does it need to be?
Saturday, May 03, 2008
Cindy Jackson, on page seven of her essay entitled “Linear Form vs Organic Form” asks us to compare Rodin’s figures with Clodion. She concludes, I think, that there is no emotional content in Clodion’s anatomical master pieces where in Rodin’s it is all about emotion.
Art is, for me, all about emotion; so does this mean that Clodion’s work is not Art?
My wife felt she had had enough after room eight at the Royal Academy’s Rodin Exhibition last year. Not too much emotion but too many bodies!
Here in lies the difference?
I did not enjoy Rodin’s work as much as I thought I would. I was far too concerned that his feet and ankles were too big and thick respectively. It annoyed me in some cases, that he had left the mould joints and then there was so much dirty plaster. I really do hate the “Burgers of Calais”, as for Balzac he is “gross”. I think that is probably the emotion we are all talking about is it not? I find the Burgers stiff and lifeless, too short in the leg to be convincing; all in all rather depressing. Great stuff just what Rodin wanted me to feel? (Some bright spark pointed out the merit in the space between the figures. I think I agree with him!)
I would never however suggest these masterpieces should be forgotten, quite the contrary.
Now I do like the “Gates of Hell”, though I was disappointed at the “uncrispness” of the casting, for me it was far too bland. He must be credited for originality with “The Thinker” and “The Kiss”. The former is a great work with impressive “presence”, blockish and powerful; the latter unconvincing and with little passion!
Clodion however has a completely different appeal! Beautiful young women comfortable and unashamed in their bodies frolic in the risqué fashion of a more decadent era. He can escape in to naughtiness with the use of mythical Males”. True to his time Clondion is all about aesthetic beauty. One might compare Clodion with Mozart and Rodin with Tchaikovsky or Stravinsky.
We must never forget that artists have to eat and feed their families so occasionally they have to produce work that does sell in the contemporary market! Being true to your art can be very difficult if your offspring are about to become homeless and starving.
That said, let’s get back to “Linear Form vs Organic Form”
The New York skyline might be breathtaking, even beautiful, but for me it is not Clodion or Rodin or Michelangelo or even Giacometti. Architecture is utilitarian; mud hut, Cathedral, office block. Sculpture is not, it is three dimensional, visual and kinaesthetic expression of human emotion.
Rodin once said “People say I think too much about women, yet, after all what is there more important to think about”? I am sure that Clondion did not bore of his work either. This is not some excuse for titillation but a passionate need to express emotion. (The full story about this quotation is much more fun and I will keep for another post.)
I am currently exploring the wonderful “new” world of women artist since the middle ages. The most interesting thing that struck me was how they see the same subject differently to male artists. Also how it is interpreted differently by their public.
Karen Petersen and J.J. Wilson’s book “Women Artists Recognition and Reappraisal from the Early Middle Ages to the Twentieth Century” is my current bedtime reading. Although written in the late 1970s it is fascinating stuff. My only criticism is "the ones left out" especially the sculptresses but that is hardly their fault.
Back to Cindy, here is her essay: