Thursday, November 01, 2007

Painted Sculpture

It is nearly a century since the ideals and understanding of what is Art were turned upside down. In this new century, Sculpture, the premier medium for visual arts being first on the scene, has to consider again the fundamentals.
A three dimensional work of art in a recognisable subject such as the human body, does not strive to replicate what is already there. So you may ask, is Ron Mueck’s work Art? Though very realistic and a bit spooky, it does have style, that element which tells us instantly that it is “a Mueck”, so perhaps it is Art. If it was a perfect replica of a human body it would be impossible to attribute to an individual Artist just by looking at it.
We have known for some time that some of the earliest sculpture was painted, and some even had eyes made of other materials. The Renaissance seems to have been dominated by Marble and so it continued until the 1900s that Marble and Bronze were the favoured mediums for the highest echelons of Sculptured forms.
We have become used to “form” in sculpture being its reason d’etre haven’t we? It is what puts it above the porcelain figurine, or fair ground effigies.
You can usually “spot” a Rodin, even if you haven’t seen it before. But what if it was painted? Oh horror you may say, but were the Elgin Marbles painted?
I hope this will spark some thought.
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Blogger chris miller said...

I've seen those "dazzlers" before -- and I'm still not buying that it has anything to do with how those statues first appeared.

The ancient architect would have been nuts (or irresponsible) to have designed with painted marble in mind -- since pigments were no less transient then than they are today -- i.e. if the figures weren't repainted annually, they would look faded and worn --- which anyone who was serious about the gods being presented would not have tolerated.

So if we do find traces of paint on those ancient figures -- I would attribute it to some later century -- possibly during a religious revival -- when desperate priests tried to draw more traffic to the temple by brightening up the images.

2:28 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

It's not just traces of paint that historians and archaeologists have to say those statues were originally painted but also written accounts which mention statues being vibrantly colored. Yes they would have had to be painted frequently, but that would have been part of the upkeep for the temples along with keeping all the gold, bronze, etc, polished. Think of it this way, if you're going to invest the massive amounts of time and money it takes to build a marble temple, you surely would be able to take the effort to keep everything well painted.

9:21 pm  
Blogger Marly Youmans said...

How ambiguous we are about these things. We have pre-distressed furniture and pre-washed jeans. But we also have a mania for the new.

12:10 am  

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