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  #1  
Old 12-09-2008, 05:02 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
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Why are the best sculptors Italian?

I realized that practically all of my heroes in sculpture are Italian - Michelangelo, Marino Marini, Medardo Rosso, ect. I have been to Italy before and did a Summer art program in Florence for a month, but I still haven't figured this one out. I think that if I understood their worldview I could be a better sculptor. Does anyone have any ideas about this?

Thanks, Mark
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  #2  
Old 12-09-2008, 08:39 AM
mountshang mountshang is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

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Originally Posted by Musicman92130 View Post
I realized that practically all of my heroes in sculpture are Italian - Michelangelo, Marino Marini, Medardo Rosso, ect. I have been to Italy before and did a Summer art program in Florence for a month, but I still haven't figured this one out. I think that if I understood their worldview I could be a better sculptor. Does anyone have any ideas about this?

Thanks, Mark
My theory is that it's because the hilly land of northern Italy itself is so sculptural -- especially Tuscany. To wake up in Florence is to want to make sculpture.

And there's also this cultural respect for sculpture as something to be studied and mastered, rather than as something to be expressed.

And of course every nationality has to excel at something: France/cuisine, Germany/philosophy, Spain/bullfighting, America/baseball etc.
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  #3  
Old 12-09-2008, 10:09 AM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

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Originally Posted by mountshang View Post
And of course every nationality has to excel at something: France/cuisine, Germany/philosophy, Spain/bullfighting, America/baseball etc.
I would expand that list a little, such as:

Germany/music, philosophy, beer, starting world wars
France/cuisine, wine, whine, surrendering, wondering why after liberty, equality, and fraternity, they are no longer a world power
Spain/Siestas, bullfighting, decorative metal work
America/ Pop culture, fast food, Policing the world, excelling in most sports except those obscure European ones, Freedom and opportunity (while it lasts)
Italy/ Fine art, fine food, fine landscapes,( what am I doing in Minnesota?)
China/ Fascinating and inventive cultural history, most expressive mountains, Tyrannical governments of the few running the lives of the most people in the world, 50-50 chance of dogs being pets or dinner
Brazil/ parties 24-7
Japan/ extreme contrasts, closed and rigid cultural identity, quick studies of others, great woodworkers, making fine craft out of common things
Canada/ single-handedly (along with Siberia) fighting global warming by being unreasonably cold, still fighting the18th century French/ English wars, second best national anthem after the US
Middle East/ welcoming hospitality to guests, violent emotions, tribalism, fanatiscism
Africa/ despotic governments that change more often than underwear, wildlife, sweet people, except for the despots, exploited natural resources
Australia/ Best self-depreciatory sense of humor, most likely to be the land of freedom and opportunity if America goes down the tubes
Hong Kong/ famous motto: " made in "
Switzerland/ neutral financial enablers of the worlds despots, chocolate
Holland/ permissiveness, tulips
Sweden/ babes
Norway/ fjords, fish, friendly
Greece/ best ancient culture
England/ tea, crumpets, useless monarchs, the Beatles, stick-to-itiveness, even if that means driving on the wrong side of the road, or losing the War of Independance to America because their soldiers would not stop lining up like ducks to be picked off by snipers.



Sorry if I left some out

BTW, at some periods of time Italy has produced the best sculptors, but at other times the French, the Americans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Japanese, and the Chinese have been better. (notice how Germany did not make that short list?) (of course, neither did New Zealand)

P.S. added in case someone is inclined to take this too seriously!
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  #4  
Old 12-09-2008, 10:19 AM
grommet grommet is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

you forgot skiing for switzerland and notable teeth and silly word humor for England.
(thanks a lot Mom for the English teeth, etc)
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  #5  
Old 12-09-2008, 10:33 AM
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

I don't think sculptors are grown by regions or landscape. Perhaps even, it could be considered a weakness to become attuned and aligned in such a manner. But if a few hard-working artists manage to engage in discourse and exchange (over drinks or whatnot), and excite each other about their developing methods and philosophies, well then, you might have one locale that separates itself from another. Better? nah, different, maybe.

It is arguable that ALL the greatest artists of the twentieth cetury were American and not only did they all live in NYC...THEY ALL HUNG OUT AT THE SAME BAR DURING THE SAME DECADE. (See, even one as gullible as myself could never bey into THAT).
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  #6  
Old 12-09-2008, 10:39 AM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

My experience of working in Italy is of a country that has a particuar affection for sculpture because it is EVERYWHERE. It has become a part of Italyís identity as a nation, given the role it played, as part of the Renaissance, in the birth of a modern unified Italy. The art links everywhere up, from Venice to Sicily, even if politically the country is still fractured into self-contained states and north/south divides (divided even by language Ė dialects are still spoken there). This ingrained role also means that everyone has a respect for sculpture. The frequency of the sculptures all around, as well as the kudos of being a practising artists (all of whom are thriving) means that even the ordinary Italian Joe has a complex feeling for an art form/activity that they have lived with since childhood.
Iíd say that all Italians understand FORM better. That has also led to a lot of work that is technically ingenious. But Italians are not so good with content, I feel. A lot of modern Italian sculpture is too stylish Ė like itís a branch of the fashion industry. Much of it is all too Ďgorgeousí.
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  #7  
Old 12-09-2008, 12:18 PM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

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Originally Posted by Portoro View Post
This ingrained role also means that everyone has a respect for sculpture. The frequency of the sculptures all around, as well as the kudos of being a practising artists (all of whom are thriving) means that even the ordinary Italian Joe has a complex feeling for an art form/activity that they have lived with since childhood.
That is a large key right there. Having a supportive, encouraging, and nourishing environment can make a huge difference.

Didn't you mean the ordinary Italian Guissepe?

Here in America, if I were to tell the oridnary Joe that I am a sculptor, I would usually expect one of the following responses:

" A what???"

" Right. But what do you do for a living?"

Blank stare.

" Wow! That's cool."

" Are you serious?!?"

" Like Michelangelo?"

"Awesome" (accompanied by a look indicating a total lack of comphrehension)
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  #8  
Old 12-09-2008, 02:36 PM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

On the other hand, part of the problem with England was the Reformation, when art got a bad name, mainly because of Cromwell and all those religious types who were art-blind (or theology-mad). We have still to recover from that - the ordinary Joe (Smith) in England can understand rock music, but not the carved stuff. In Italy, the sculptors ARE rock stars.
- Sam
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  #9  
Old 12-09-2008, 08:49 PM
mountshang mountshang is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

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Originally Posted by GlennT View Post

BTW, at some periods of time Italy has produced the best sculptors, but at other times the French, the Americans, the Greeks, the Egyptians, the Japanese, and the Chinese have been better. (notice how Germany did not make that short list?) (of course, neither did New Zealand)


Responding to my wounded sense of ethnic pride -- I wish I could find a German website as spectacular as this Italian one:

http://www.thais.it/scultura/default.htm




..but instead I can only offer this one--- which actually is a very nice gallery for contemporary figure sculpture:


http://www.galerie-am-gendarmenmarkt...ch/plastik.htm

It's an interesting gallery, at least for me, because it features the two great postwar sculptors of the GDR, Fritz Cremer and Waldemar Grzimek (shown below) -- along with what appears to be their children and students.

Not that I am a Communist, but that perverse ideology does seem to have sponsored some great figure sculptors in the last century -- along with Fascism and Roman Catholicism (at least in Italy).
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  #10  
Old 12-09-2008, 09:14 PM
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GlennT GlennT is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

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Originally Posted by mountshang View Post
Responding to my wounded sense of ethnic pride -- I wish I could find a German website as spectacular as this Italian one:

..but instead I can only offer this one
That offering, from my perspective, helps to further make my case.

My advice would be to take that wounded pride thing as a challenge, and become single-handedly (actually, two-handedly) the new renaissance of German(/American) sculpture. You can't change the past, but you can transform the future.
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  #11  
Old 12-09-2008, 10:30 PM
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bottegin bottegin is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

I agree that art is deeply rooted in Italy's DNA. One may start with the Romans who were greatly influenced by the Greeks, and continue wih the Ranaisance. But even today art is still very important for most Ialians. It may be seen in he way they design their products, the way they dress. Art is part of their life style.
When it comes to wood carving I have to speek about the village of Ortisei. Here Practically every household has a wood carver. Most families have more than one carver. Seeing the grand father, the father and his children working in the same work shop is very common. At school, children are introduced to wood carving from the first day of school. So here, children grow surrounded by the language of sculpture.
I try to visit this village every year as it fills me with a strong drive to carve more and more.
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  #12  
Old 12-10-2008, 03:39 AM
Musicman92130 Musicman92130 is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

There have been some very interesting points made. I do think it has something to do with the culture. And I agree that here in the US if you tell people that you are a sculptor you get an amazed look. Surprisingly people sometimes think I am joking until I show them my card.

Mark
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  #13  
Old 12-10-2008, 10:37 AM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

Have to say, the US has offered up some great experimental sculpture in the twentieth century. There is a freshness there in the work, a joy in creation, and a sheer love of the material, things that UK artists do not have (After all, Henry Moore is derivative, just a tiny little British Picasso, and Damien Hirst is a Duchamp Ready-Made-come-Warhol factory artist). Iím not even sure that UK artists know what originality IS. In the UK we aspire to what already exists (becoming middle class or upper class, for instance). New? Whatís that? Mind you, Iím not sure that modern Italian sculptors know what originality is either anymore - perhaps their artistic heritage hangs too heavily on them, just as our British ignorance of art is why there is so much stuff produced here now that may not be art at all (What IS all that stuff that Damien was selling at a recent auction???).
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  #14  
Old 12-10-2008, 11:06 AM
tobias tobias is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

I think its purely because they take the time to appreciate beauty. So much so that they refuse to live with out it. Not just sculpture clothing design arcitecture cars motorcycles.Oh thoes italian motorcycles are soooo pretty. oh yah an so are the women.
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  #15  
Old 12-11-2008, 04:07 PM
fshnrod fshnrod is offline
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Re: Why are the best sculptors Italian?

Italians appreciate all that is aesthetic.
One of my favorite Italian(sometime confused as a Russian) sculptors is Paolo Troubetzkoy. He was born in Italy(American mom, Russian Dad), and worked in Verbania most of his life. he did travel to both America, and Russia to work. He discovered the genius of Rembrant Bugatti of the famous Bugatti family out of Milano(one of the absolute best creative families to ever come out of Italy-brother did cars, and his father was an incredible designer. Uncle was a great painter.
Rod
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