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  #1  
Old 11-27-2004, 03:29 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

i am just beginning to seriously invest myself into figurative sculpture, and i'm trying to explore a few different materials. my first-love is stone, but i simply can't sculpt stone in my new york city apartment and i can't get enough hours in appropriate studio space right now. further, i figure 'reps' is what counts when developing one's self in a new discipline, and so i've been working at modeling/additive-processes instead. the thing that drives me nuts, though, is the apparent necessity of armatures, which to me seem like a harmful impurity in the whole unique process of clay/wax/etc: i mean to say the only appeal of these materials to me is their infinite malleability and therefore their ability to be so freely formed and re-formed--an armature kills this entirely.

in some of my readings i've run across mentions of wax not requiring an armature. a few books from the 20s i've ran across mention it in passing, and then i've run across one book ["Figure Sculpture in Wax and Plaster"] which I was only able to skim through that seemed to indicate that microcrystaline could be used in this way. But, when I asked around at the store I was looking at the book at (The Compleat Sculptor in NYC), they said it was probably a bit risky and a-bad-idea to do wax without an armature for anything much above a few inches in height [I was planning on working with wax at about the scale of Degas' wax figurines: 6-8"].

i've looked around online quite a bit, and have als tried to find any books specifically devoted, or devoted in good part, to modelling in wax, and haven't had much luck getting a clear answer to this question, so i thought i'd ask here:

can microcrystaline wax be used without an armature for 6-8" [or taller?] figures? if not, any suggestions for someone who'd like to be able to just pick up a material with some inherent beauty of it's own and use it as directly as possible?

[i know about casteline but it's process sounds awkward and the material is rather ugly compared to wax. i'd rather work with simple, natural materials that have inherent beauty to them.]
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Old 11-27-2004, 08:07 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Hpat - I think you would be OK with 6 - 8 inch figures directly in wax, with no armature. The main consideration, of course is temperature relative to size and shape. Another possible problem is weakness at points where wax is added.

Iíve worked in bronze, taken from water- or oil-clay originals for some 16 - 17 years now, and the intermediates are hollow waxes. The procedure locally is to float these wax casts in a tank or tub of water when theyíre not being worked, such as overnight. Floating relieves most of the stress on the piece when itís not being handled.

However, Iíve handled figures (I do realistic sculptures, almost exclusively of people) as much as 20 - 30 inches tall for up to weeks at a time with no obvious problem. Keys here, of course, are the overall width to height ratio, plus the wall thickness of the hollow wax cast. And thatís in New Orleans, which certainly is warmer in summer than NY in winter, even indoors. If youíre working directly in wax, youíll have to pay special attention to getting additions fused well to the earlier wax. I generally use an electrical heating element if I think this will be a problem. (Wax casts, of course, solidify from the melt, and the cast basically is a single unit.)

Iíd say, try some extreme shapes first, as a test, with the wax you expect to use. Make a couple of tall, thin shapes, which stretch out here and there without support, and see what happens.

Overall, I think youíll be OK as long as the forms arenít too extreme.

Last edited by fritchie : 11-27-2004 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 11-29-2004, 06:42 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Hpat,
Fritchie has good advice as usual. Some aditional thoughts...
You didn't say what you intend to do with the wax. Is it for bronzing, or are you just modeling for the sake of practicing and have no intention of making a permanent piece? If you want to just practice, I would suggest just using plasteline clays which will never dry out and are easy to model. True they would need an armature, but a simple figure armature can be made or bought out of pliable aluminum wire which can be bent and remodeled at any time - so you are not chained to a rigid form. Wax can be used, but without an armature, you'd have to use pretty stiff wax which is difficult to model in my opinion. Of course with a small wax figure without an armature, you will save the moldmaking process if you want to have a one of a kind bronze made of it.
Another option is to use water based clay which can be used as an armature in itself. Just shape the "skeletal core" and let it stiffen (but not dry out), then you can add limbs and support them with popsicle sticks or whatever until they are stiff, then you can add fresh clay to the core and it will be supported. The negative side of this will be that the piece will be fairly fragile, must be kept moist, and will be rigid at the core and not easy to make adjustments. On the up side, you can fire it without having to remove tha armature and you will have a permanent piece with no moldmaking.
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Old 11-29-2004, 09:23 PM
anne (bxl) anne (bxl) is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Hpat, I work quite a lot in directwax (I called my dog Wax, so guess!). I make my smallest pieces in wax (till 45cm height- 18 inches?) and the only problem is that once finished, it has to be conserved in some fresh cellar till the moldmakingprocess. Even if I live in a country where the weather is rarely very warm I have to do so. For overnight takecare, as Fritchie said, watertank is fine. On my opinion, wax cannot be a permanent piece. In art history I know just one exception to this : Medardo Rosso's figurative heads.

Even if you consider the waxpieces as an intermediate material before casting (with or without armature) I am not sure you will save the moldmaking process as the pieces will be waxcored and so not thin enough. Sometimes I shape directly the skin of the piece, without any core. It's a technic of my own and probably not applicable to figurative pieces.
Why don't you exercise first, as Buster suggest, with plastilline? so much softer and easy to work....
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Old 11-29-2004, 10:29 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

hpatenaude:

If your intent is to practice the human form, hands feet, arms and heads really don't need an armature for themselves for short periods----one foot that I had modeled in #4 roma plastelina sat on various shelves for 10 years till i finally cast it in plaster---I used it over and over as a model for other feet-----

However, if your intent is to do full figures, my advice is get used to and develope a long-term working relationship with armatures-----I have 6 permanently set up for up to 24" macquettes, (five currently have clays in various stages of developement) and 2 set up for heads or busts-(both with clays)---I've found that once they are set up with wire skeletons, I can translate my visions into shapes more "in the moment", and the arms and legs are free to bend and dance. If I wand to change them, I need only carve down to the wire to rehape the skeleton.
Armatures are a cheap and invaluable tool.

Alternately, you could work from an oversized lump of clay and carve out and model on figures as though partially removed from stone.....but then----the figure cannot be free of it's matrix......

care to show a pix of what you're doing?

rod
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Old 11-30-2004, 02:01 AM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Thanks to everyone!

I'm not interested in permanent materials, but I also, for purity's sake, am not a big fan of the armature. I do work in plastaline right now, and I've had success doing seated, lounging, etc poses. I've carefully tried to do some torsos (if I keep it to a torso study cutting of legs and arms I get a lot of good pratice out of it and it works fine, but it does tend to be leaning backward, and can't take much rigorous modelling), too. All without armature.

I carved a foot a few months ago, when I had time, in limestone for a couple weeks. Ideally, I'd carve and nothing but carve, both because of the process and because of the beauty, permanence and purity of the material. I've turned to modelling, though, for three reasons:

(1) Being able to do it in my apartment [metal against rock is loud].
(2) Cheap and/or reusable materials [even if I keep a backlog of wax or clay models rather than tearing them down, the materials are far cheaper than soapstone, which otherwise works in an apartment].
(3) I need to study the human form in three dimensions thoroughly and constantly; this comes best from repetition. Modelling, then, seems to be the right approach, as a form of thorough and modifiable study in materials that allow a bit of speed. Further, I can correct what's wrong and learn from mistakes without feeling like I just permanently screwed up 2 weeks of work and a $70 stone.



So, this is why I'm not interested in permanent materials necessarily. I hate the idea of the armature but I know I should just get used to working with one. Modelling is, for me, about expediency in some ways anyway, I shouldn't complain about the armature as a further expedient. But, if possible, I'd love to do modelling in a purer material, like wax. I'm very happy to hear that it's possible to do this--and that was my main question. In the time since I posted, I went down and bought some relatively firm microcrystaline. I warmed it up in chunks and was able to work with it and get forms that couldn't be achieved without armature in plastaline. I just need to get a good process together now of easily warming and cooling the wax [when the figure would bend I just put it in the freezer to let the wax set, then took it out to continue applying layers]. I'm also interested in wax because it seems to offer certain hybrid possibilities of additive/subtractive processes.



Thanks for all the advice, I also bought an armature and several mirrors and am trying to work concurrently in both wax and plastaline now. I'm hoping to get whatever growth I can on my own, but worst-case I'll be talking a life sculpture studio next semester [I am currently an architecture student at Cooper Union in NYC and am transferring to Pratt Institute come spring, where I'll be getting to spend all my time doing nothing but sculpture; I've been in and out of all sorts of art+design programs in the last couple years--it took me a while to come to the realization that sculpture was the right path... something I'm resolutely sure of the more I do it] and will have facilities and more models than myself and my ever-so-patient spouse--as well as, I hope, a good teacher or two.

- Hanee
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Old 11-30-2004, 03:47 AM
lesliepatrick lesliepatrick is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Something I have seen used by people who like making tall, skinny things, with direct wax modelling - be it people or giraffes...is an armiture from wire....sometimes up to 6 feet tall. I get the feeling that you are reacting to a constructed and inflexible armature.....but the wire, granted needs to be welded to a secure base, but once this is done it remains quite bendy and can be shaped .....even when the wax is on. Dont like the arm there, so bend it, patch up the wax a little and bingo.
The trick is to put 'rawl' plugs over the wire, so that the wire has a thickness to it, and i suppose this stops the wax from spinning on the wire framework/armature.....and as to waxes readjusting themselves in warm weather....yesterday was 38 here, so i have a flotilla of waxes in the bath.
Take care
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Old 11-30-2004, 09:34 AM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

No, I'm reacting to flexible armatures as well. What people use for plaster sometimes to me is pretty ghastly [the true inflexible ones, where they have to basically model the form in chicekn wire or what have you and then just apply plaster layers of skin and detailing], but I really have an issue with a material being a messy composite, as well as the bit of what I consider dishonesty of hiding it's structural basis. Call me a modernist, but I get dissapointed whenever I see something lie about it's own structure by concealing something [i.e. the plastacine which is really held up not by it's inherent shapes but by a thick aluminum tubing inside it]. It's understandable to prefer the materials to just be "x" than "x as a skin around spare bicycle tires, some bubble gum, a bit of duct tape, some tin foil, aluminum tubing, bhurlap."

It's just my own personal bias, and it should have a place in my artwork, but, what I've come to the conclusion of is that it shouldn't hinder my /studies/. And an armature and plastacine is an excellent way to study the human form. So I should shut up about its faults and learn a thing or two.
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Old 11-30-2004, 08:20 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

This has been very informative, Hanee, both about materials in general and about your own viewpoint regarding purity of construction.

Personally, I decided from the beginning not to worry about an internal armature. It can be limiting, but is possible to change with a bit of work. Iíve not felt limited overall.

In regard to Rodís (Sculptorís) suggestion, I have been doing torsoís from imagination for a couple of years now, and have 4 simple armatures mounted on square plywood bases, that I use over and over. Each is simply an inverted U-shape of Ĺ inch plumbing pipe, of a size that fits within the shoulder space of the torso.

Let us hear of your progress! (And Iím sure further suggestions about method are welcome on this very instructive thread!)
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Old 12-01-2004, 11:22 AM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

I find the purity of materials or truth to materials angle very interesting. If youíre in architecture you probably know that concrete canít span a long distance without a steel armature, i.e. rebar. The co-efficient of thermal expansion for the two materials is almost identical so they work together in such harmony that in my mind at least, itís a thing of awe. Without this pairing modern architecture as we know it would be impossible. Of course for the rebar to work properly it must be embedded a few inches below the surface, where no one can see it. Is that corrupt?

I think there are a few generic armature designs that have been floating around for years that really are bad, and I donít blame you for being repelled by them, but I think to abandon an armature completely would be a tremendous limitation. Instead, a big challenge would be to design a better armature and get us out of the 19th century.

Look at the Remet Corp. webpage for wax. Iíve tried at least one of their products and it is much easier to work with than the generic junk sold at the local art store. Iíll probably try them all eventually because I love the stuff Iím using now.
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Old 12-01-2004, 09:08 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

It's not a simple question, most definitely, and I'm very aware of the arguments in the design disciplins, where I think the issue has the longest and most notorious history. And I've made my fair share of arguments on the subject, but, now that I've changed my identity to sculptor, I feel the work I do should embody my ideas on the subject, and that my undrestanding of the subject should be done through the work only, rather than arguing this or that verbally... And right now, I'm just starting, so it's important not to put up barriers to things, and to try as many possibly materials and techniques early on.

Now, as far as the concrete argument:

The concrete argument generally reinforces my feelings. There are all sorts of problems with concrete--it's lack of grain and materiality and it's absolute plasticity with no material properties of its own [many beautiful things are such precisely because of their constraints--concrete's so wide-open that many past beauties of architecture--like wood joinery and masonry, which had all sorts of rules that they came with that enhanced their beauty by making their forms seem like the ONLY possible answer to something; And if inevitability is not the highest complement to a piece of art, I don't know what is]. I'm not the first to find concrete problematic, either. There were modern architects who tried to struggle with the problem of re-enforced concrete. Le Corbusier on several of his later buildings used what he called "beton brut," which is when you pour the concrete with wood panelling as your forming device, and you leave the rough wood marks and perforations in the concrete, giving it a texture that occurs naturally from the process, and revealing the nature of how the structure was made--to some degree. Efforts were made, in other words, to try to figure out how to use concrete as a real material, rather than just a technological innovation.

And, it could be argued that, as beautiful as villa savoye may be [personally, I'm more a fan of the latter Corbusier work--Ronchamp and Chandigrah specifically, I feel are some of the greatest masterworks of the last 100 years], it lacks materiality--and that Alvar Aalto is who we should look to for a better appreciation of materials.

So I don't think the argument of "ah, but look what can be done if we combine materials as aggregates" is a clear case, but it is a good one to consider.

Honestly, what brought me to sculpture was (1) that it's done for its own sake and (2) it's utter physicality. In a past life I used to be a software designer [as in code], which had plenty of beautiful internal forms and all these sorts of debates going on in it, but it lacked materiality and the final call on every would-be beautiful thing was: when can it be done by? After leaving the field, I've been emersed in design (I've done furniture and architecture now). The problem there is the same lack of purity--something done /FOR/ something, not for it's own sake. Might not sound like a huge difference to some people, but there really could be no bigger difference. Sculpture, to me, is the same values as furniture or architecture--forms in space for the sake of beauty [as far as I'm concerned--I know beauty gets a bed rep in favor of 'conceptual' work these days]. The nice thing is that Sculpture gets to be that "for the sake of beauty and only for beauty." And, in that sense, there's nothing more beautiful than forms intrinsically beautiful in materials also intrinsically beautiful. Concrete, is not a material intrinsically beautiful. It can be, at best, neutral. Similarly, plaster has very little beauty of its own. I feel the same with plastacine, myself. Earth clays are far superior as beautiful thigns in and of themselves, but we use plastacine because it gives us freedom to develop the /form/ and worry less about materials drying out. But it's a difficult tradeoff. It may well be that I can get a more dynamic composition--something truly sculptural, that is, fully three dimensional--working in plastacine than in stone, for example. So there's these constant tradeoffs between tools that make things expedient and materials that allow free composition, and things that are beautiful because of the materials or the way in which the materials bear the mark of the hand.

Besides all those arguments, which should last anyone a lifetime in trying to undrestand, I'm really only a fan of things done directly. It's near impossible to do a very finished plastaline model and then carve it in stone and still have any life in it. Similarly, a bit of hte life gets lost when you cast a clay or wax model in bronze--which has definite material beauty, but looses the mark of the hand. All complicated arguments that I'm sure you've all heard and had your part in... but, I think it's worth a thought when choosing materials and methods. As an absolute beginner in figurative sculpture [really, I should say all sculpture having to do with mass--I've spent a lot of time working with linear and planar vocabularies, but mass is a completely different world--and I can't think of anything more appropriate to do in mass than the human form], it's fine for me to consider materials+methods, but only in so far as I can find things that offer the same ability to learn about the human form in space. Certainly swaring by nothing but marble would be a huge loss to me, as would be swearing off plastaline+armatures prematurely... as the process they offer is significantly more free in one sense than wax.

Anyhow, I'll keep you posted--in 6 months I may have a right to say a word or two w/r/t questioning materials and methods; right now I don't.

Now, time to get back to my armature and learn something...
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Old 12-02-2004, 12:43 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

ďI feel the work I do should embody my ideas on the subject, and that my understanding of the subject should be done through the work only, rather than arguing this or that verbally...Ē

Thatís a good point, the thing that really counts is what the viewer has to look at although art is nothing without ideas.

I am very curious to know more about why youíre beginning with the figure. Iím involved with the figure because I think the human body is the basis of sculpture because sculpture is such a physical thing that it reminds us of our own body. I also remind myself when Iím in the studio that itís as much a physical act as a mental one, so training oneís hands is as important as training the mind. However, Iím curious about your perspective because from what Iíve seen ideas about purity (e.g., pure form) and art-for-artís sake seems to most often to lead away from representing the figure and towards abstraction. In the case of architecture, the human figure has been represented on buildings for a long time but it was cries for purity that took that away to leave us with modern minimalist structures. Another way of putting it is ďget that ornament off of there and let me see the structureĒ, ornament including representations of the figure.

Iíve also heard the argument about bronze losing something from the original, and Iím not quite sure where the concerns are. Is it intrinsic to the material or is it how we manipulate it? Iím betting on working methods being the issue and not the material because bronze casts so nicely that it will pick up every detail. Iím handling the issue by doing all the metal work myself because I suspect the handoff of casting to specialists is where things get lost. If youíre working in wax directly then youíre in a good position for casting in metal without losing a single thumbprint. If you decide to go ahead with wax on a small scale you could get it translated to bronze with very little slippage from the original because there would be only one molding step which would amount to dipping your piece in slurry.
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Old 12-02-2004, 08:25 PM
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Re: direct modeling; concrete

Hanee - I respect your wish to "get into direct work", but you've started a thread here with many challenging ideas, so I hope you donít mind if we continue a bit longer, even if you yourself choose to say little.

One of your remarks I want to challenge is that concrete has no character. To an extent that is true, but in fact it is a mix of cement powder (basically a finely ground mixture of limestone and clay, I think), fine aggregate such as sand, and some bulking aggregate, typically gravel. Where bending or cracking resistance is needed, prestretched or prestressed steel rods are added.

I greatly admire concrete buildings where the texture of the compound mix is emphasized,, as well as some where the surface has been specially shaped through textured forms as you describe. I canít claim extensive knowledge of methods used to produce highly textured concrete, where the gravel is exposed, though it can be done and I find the result pleasing.

In many cases, Iím sure the forms are precast, with free aggregate placed on the bottom of the mold to form the surface of the finished piece. However, I do know that concrete cast in place, even vertically, can be pressure-washed as it begins to set, in a way that removes surface flatness and exposes the typically multihued aggregate. To my eye, the results are very pleasing. Thatís a way of expressing the true nature of this compound material. I find the molded surfaces of the sort you described as also interesting but less aesthetic.

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Old 12-02-2004, 08:59 PM
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Re: direct modeling; concrete

Can't the form supercede the material? Since concrete can be poured into any form, isn't the problem you are having with concrete really just due to the aesthetics of the particular molding method? If a concrete shape were made to be elegant and sensuous rather than boxy would you look past what you know of the material and consider only responding to its curves and the way it occupies space? Or is it the grainyness or just the idea of what concrete is that gets in the way?
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Old 12-02-2004, 09:24 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling; concrete

(Responding to other posts momentarily, but):

JAZ, I think I covered this already. The highest beauty in my opinion is forms intrinsically beautiful in materials intrinsically so. There are many beauties, I am merely making purist arguments here about working towards what is most ultimate and fundamental.

The form can be beautiful, so beautiful that we grant it our forgiveness in terms of its materials. And sometimes, a form is beautiful precisely in a way that it could only be if it used materials somewhat unaesthetic. Ronchamp would have been hard to do without concrete, for example.

But the idea that form can transcend material, to me, is a bit of an absurdity. They are always both present as parts of our perceptual experience. A Cezanne still life done in acrylic or fresco rather than oil paint, would still have great composition, but the glow of it would be lost. Part of this is because oil paint is simply a better material than acrylic, and part is because the thing he painted had everything to do with the nature of oil paint, not the nature of, to take an extrem example, fresco.

I'm not saying everything should be made in the materials with the most intense sensory experience, like precious stones or marble with complicated colors and patterns. When the beauty becomes increasingly one of forml, the materials should have a beauty that is subdued, that doesn't overpower the form. More intense doesnt' mean more beautiful, and I don't mean to say "the most intense beauty" when I talk about ultimates.

But I'm onto another subject: the gist is that in more determinate and specific forms, the materials should have a beauty that helps to reveal the form without distracting too much from it.

In any event, I meant to post just to say: the material never goes away, it's always a good portion of our experience of a form--and especially our first impression of that form. We can remember the form of a sculpture for years, but the materials fade the quickest in our mind. And this is why the material beauty is so important, in some senses: it's what makes our experience of a thing so physically present and livens it with something that cna only occur in the rich medium of visual and tactile perception.

Forms, seperated from materials, we have all the time in our imagination. And, unfortunately, we have them in the arts too these days. In my opinion, an art work should have more power over us when we stand in front of it than the memory of it. Otherwise instead of making sculpture we could just make plans for sculpture, which can give us the essence of a form. Or three dimensional computer models--where all the material constraints are relieved and the form is fully trransmissable and can be copied identically and viewed in many places at once.

But, I hope at least, that sculpture doesn't become VR installations or CD-roms of physically impossible forms.
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Old 12-02-2004, 11:50 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Okay, so here's exactly what I didn't want to do: talk like a sculptor when I in fact am not yet one. Ick, I am becoming a true vermin: the non-praticing art critic.

The Figure: That's a pretty big question.

Why /I/ am interested in the figure:

Funny, because I've now spent about a year solid thinking about figurative sculpture in stone as a calling, and right now it's very difficult to put simply why the figure. Perhaps there are simply too many good reasons.

I could state a formalistic one about the nature of a mass and what forms make sense as a mass and which do not.

I could state a practical one, about it being a logical step in my growth to understand the human form rendered in stone as being the absolute opposite of all my past established vocabularies of form.

I could state one in terms of beauty: that beauty requires definite forms, and that there is no form more definite or naturally pleasing to a human than a human. Here I could go on a rant against vagueness in the arts,a nd an inability to reluctance to create determinate forms; that is, we tend to romanticize incomplete things and read profundity to what is simply vagueness. The figure is the antidote, when done in the full.

I could state a Kierkegaardian one [and this is the main one, I think, that keeps me coming back to the figure in stone] about eternity and temporality. This is the most profound of them--there's something crushingly beautiful about capturing life in stone. Stone is so absolutely permanent, and so, in terms of our own life spans, eternal. It is also the coldest and deadest of materials [metal is cold, but god is it lively!]. It is the exact opposite of a living thing, and it is precisely the sort of material that gives us a glimpse of things eternal--it is still, silent, permanent, absolutely unchanging, implastic, it yields only to great force and has a conseqneutiality that cannot be denied. The exact opposite of the temporal world around us. And this works both on the level of stone sculpture as an activity, and stone sculpture as a product of that activity. I can imagine nothing more consummate to a life than to labor over, and breath that subtle amount of life into, an almost pulsing, but completely stilled and frozen, body in stone. I can think of nothing more humane, nothing more ultimately human than to fight so terribly hard to bring something into existence--something so definite and total. Nothing that requires more love to be poured into it, and that requires every labor both mental and physical. That is it in terms of the activity, as far as the product: the only beauty that can stop me, turn me inward, and cause me to come face to face with the profound condition of humanity, that all things pass and die, but moreover, that /we/ as conscious human beings pass and die, than figurative sculpture when done in a certain manner that stone seems to achieve best. Maybe an example is necessary at this point, and I will give one I have actually experienced in full rather than a deriviative imagining of an experience: there's a bust of Carpeaux's [whose Ugolino, until I started to become very disappointed in it for various reasons I could enumerate at length, was what really sealed my decision to go into figurative sculpture] from one of the figures of La Danse. It's terra cotta, and it's at the Met. You could try to find it online but the photo they shoot of it is terrible, I don't know whether it's lighting or what, but it makes the face broad and flat, when it's anything but. But, this face is absolutely perfectly captured as a spatial, existant form. It has distinct humanity--it's no generalization. But it's also very likely not an exact replica of an existant person. It is a true creation of something. It turns to one side and tilts downward very slightly, with it's eyes looking further downward. It has the sort of light smile and joy in the face that you usually could only find in an 8 year old or an adult on a rare spring day. But, in that the eyes look down it has this degree of inward looking and reflection, like that moment's thought of the real significane or insignifance, whatever it is we want to call it, of being human. When you're in the middle of a wonderful experience of joy and have that split second ware you become fully self-aware of the very fragile thing you are, and then look back up. It is a capturing of a moment of human life in it's fullest, what makes it human life, the very subtle and nuanced joys and tender materiality. The way we can all feel for a moment here or there, if the wind is cold enough or the smells great enough, or otherwise we are pulled into the natural world of sensory pleasure and beauty. So, to me it appears, in my projection onto this at least, that this figure has all of that, but, and here is what makes it what it is: it's completely dead in another sense. It's hardened clay. It's that moment of subtle pulsing life taken and frozen in a permanent material. The person who made it is dead too. and I can't help but think that there could be no more full form of beauty, and no more powerful and humane thing, than a bust like that. As a painting it would be comparatively nothing but a snapshot of the thing, but in front of us it is the thing, it's full and present, it's just in a different material, it never breathed and it never could breathe, but it exists, and not just as one point of view of it, but as the full and real and physical thing. As just beautiful forms for their own sake, no matter how perfectly inevitable they were, no matter how much they formed a perfect unity, it would be comparatively nothing because it would seem like something that we may well appreciate for beauty, but only when time allots, as a wonderful part of life, but not the absolute and total substance of it. As something with some 'conceptual' basis it would be comparatively nothing, because it would make me think of happenstance thoughts and pull me instead of into something fundamental and transcendent, that is beautiful regardless of what culture or time it's in, it would pull me into the banalities of contemporary culture, or, at best, comments upon it.

At the same time, the I'm half-futurist, and I love a spinning Bologna [as composition only] just as much, but in a COMPLETLEY different way than Cellini's crucifixion [which I've come to love though I haven't seen it yet]... And, in the end, each work is it's own--and there's certainly a time to make something about the spinning vitality of life--like Boccioni's Development of a Bottle in Space--and a time to make something about the almost heart-stopping tragic beauty of life--like that face of Carpeaux's.

The Figure and Architecture

I don't see any relation here, at least in as far as how I look at the figure. It's not about representation, for me, at least not in the way people mean representation usually. As far as my tastes and inclinations beyond figurative sculpture: they're quite broad. I love what is called abstraction by some people. I',m not sure on my stance on it today, but right now, as far as abstract formalism, I'm working on a desk I designed that is nothing but stark lines and planes in space [I make it out to sound like a better piece than it is, but I'm pretty happy with it still, and it's a huge source of beauty in my daily life].

I like to hope it's not an either/or. But I tend to distrust 'and's for good reason. My long term aims are to do both architecture, which to me is abstract sculpture par excellence, and figurative sculpture. They are to me a perfect compliment, anad they both demand separation, not integration. But, I worry that with anything less than total dedication to one thing and only one thing, I can't possibly achieve the sort of mastery I have in mind [and, speaking honestly, I haven't yet seen any piece of figurative sculpture that I don't find something missing or off in, on one day of the week or another... so I can't imagine anything less than a lifetime of work, and I'm /just/ starting right now, as soon as this semester is over and I'm free to follow my sculptural pursuits.]. And I think the inability for most people [including myself] to devote themselves wholly to one thing only and for it's own sake, has resulted in a great poverty of the arts as of late [or perhaps in the last fifty years, or maybe one hundred years, or maybe two hundred and fifty, depends on where you want to draw the line... I'd say the last 50 years have definitely been a pretty sharp downward turn--at least many of the moderns had some love in them for what they did, despite their endless verbalizing and being caught up in theory rather than practice--though in my opinion Sculpture has been dead for the longest of all, or perhaps, it's been on life support since it's birth. Painting has had it's highs, even as late as Cezanne... but in my opinion Rodin had the keys but failed to have the constraint of a real master, his work becomes a facile mannerism of himself most the time; but oh what a great modeller and oh what composition! I'll cover Rodin below in a moment... and Carpeaux and other's had greater sincerity but never put all the right pieces together in all the right order...].

Bronze, oof!

This was the shortest response I could manage and that's /after/ I deleted a few paragraphs... Brevity and completeness have never graced me, unfortunately--which might be another reason--at least the latter, of completeness, why I'm so interested in figurative sculpture, where I really must achieve completeness if I'm to achieve anything:

A lot of people would take this argument in a metaphysical/ontological direction, about the nature of something existing, and whether it exists in more than one place, and whether something is a thing or a representation of a thing. I think these are valid arguments (and if you want to read what's one of the best works that argues from a ontological standpoint without becoming excessively self-indulgent and imaginary: take a look at Etien Gilson's The Arts of the Beautiful; it's a well argued and structured formalist-ic theory of art as making--as distinct from thinking and doing [the classic triad here being making[has to do with beauty]/thinking [has to do with truth]/and doing [has to do with good/right]--these becoming the respective human activities of art, science and ethics--often times these days people try to make making a form of thinking [as in 'conceptual art] or doing [as in 'political art'], and there's very little real making going on these days--and I think that's one of the reasons Sculpture, and figurative sculpture specifically, has been dead in a lot of ways for the last 50-100 years... it has been replaced instead with installation art). Whew, that was a long sentence! Ah, the woes of forum discourse...

But, I would take a different approach, at least today (some days I'd argue the metaphysical viewpoint, which I think is also true), and argue two things:

(1) In translation from one material to a different one, a form will be foreign to the latter, because the whole nature of it's development had to do with the substance of the prior. I.e., it will look like a clay form translated into bronze rather than a bronze form. This is a huge deal, even for the abstract formalist who says the materials don't matter.

(2) Being a copy, independent of how it was copied or whether it was copied into identical materials even, it will loose in one of two ways:
(a) If it is copied by hand, it will be a dead experience, and it will show in the work--because the process of creation, the real art work, already happened. It will become a dead practice of rote craft. If copying someone else's work, it could still have some life in it--because there are hopefully some discoveries to be had in that case.
(b) If it is copied mechanically, the overall thing will not be dead for the reason of thoughtlessness, but dead because of a certain fineness that is lost. It's precisely the same as the difference between digital and analog--sure, it's very close to the same, but that 'very close' is significant, especially when we approach real masterworks. Ask a true lover of classical music if a CD is the same as vinyl and they will resolutely tell you that all fineness is lost.

Examples:

If we venture into other arts, what I have said will seem quite obvious: if a composer writes a Cello Concerto and it is transposed for playing on another instrument, or in a different key, we can be very sure there will be a significant difference, especially the more sensitive the original was to the nature of the Cello and the key. In the argument of inevitability as the highest form of art, it's evident that the ability to take something, and change a fundamental part of it, without loss, indicates that the work was lacking in a tight relation of parts/materials/so-forth.

Coming back to the more contentious, because it's not distant, subject of sculpture:

It's hard to discount the entirety of bronze sculpture--and certainly there's plenty of beautiful bronze sculpture out there. But, the question is, if we held them up to their original objects, how often would we lament the loss of that vital original. Some of the best bronzes I know of [that I've actually seen, I really can't talk about anything I haven't seen in person when it comes to fineness of perception] are the casts of Degas' wax figurines. Now, though all the hand-marks seem to be present, and there's a dull brown to the material that is /similar/ to the wax he might have used, a few things are missing that would make the thing so terribly different. First, is that the actual wax had a different surface to it, and I'm quite sure that degas' work was influenced by the way this surface looked and the entirety of what he was doing had much to do with his sensitivity to that surface. The original wax must also have had a fineness that showed the way in which he applied the materials, whether his layers were thin, and so became paler in collor and more translucent. They would also show where he carved if he did, in certain ways: there woudl be a change of surface reflectivity on the carved parts versus the parts that hot wax was used. These are fine things, but we all know, as artists, how the most subtle detail can be a world of difference in appreciating a work.

Now wax-to-bronze is one of the more natural translations. By being a material that goes through pretty dramatic physical changes when it is heated and cooled, it has some similarities. It can become a true liquid, just like bronze. That's about as far as the similarities go, of course--as, you can't touch liquid bronze with your hands, though it would be great if you could.

Another example, then: consider Rodin. Though I'm not a fan of many of his works, he was truly a great modeller. With his more exagerated [and, dare I say, a bit mannered!] works, he really celebrates clay as a material, and the gesture of the hand squeezing and pushing it about. When that's taken and put in marble by his workers, it's simply hideious as far as I'm concerned. The marble is pointed-out, and then rubbed with abraisives, and it's like seeing a rodin sculpture after it sat in a river for 100 years. But it's worse than that--because that could be beautiful for the right forms. But his forms he renders in marble have NOTHING to do with stone at all. If it was like a river stone, it would have very subtle and continuing endless curves, without ever having any major sharp shifts or more bulbous forms. But his sculptures are all about the bulbous lumpy things that have no palce in stone--perhaps in wood they might be /slightly/ better. In clay they are completely natural. A lump is the whole nature of clay. I could go on all day about how completely off Rodin's (or I should say his assistants--from what I know Rodin never touched marble himself) work in marble is, but I think the point is probably self-evident to most people whove seen them. Obviously lively forms about looseness and change-ability have no place in a vocabulary of stone.

Now, in bronze, some of the liveliness of the material is there, but the whole surface quality is nearly inverted in the way it reflects light, and on top of that, who says it's in the nature of bronze to have those sorts of clumpy lumpy things in it? Certainly the roundness, like a bronze bell's horn, makes sense, but the surface handling is all wrong. Metal pouring has, as one of it's more likely nature's, to be a smooth-surfaced thing, and most bronze-ish forms are very different than the forms of clay: horns, armour, all these things have a certain degree of arcing curves and sharp planar shifts, with a brilliance to the material that arises from it's smoothness--it's reflectivity. Bird in space can work in bronze quite OK for this reason. Of course, bronze can be other than smooth too. It can be a molten spatter. But, still, then, to me it seems that Giacometti [I'm not sure what type of metal his stuff is in] is more exemplary of that other way in wich to use metal. Giacometti's works look like spattering clumps of iron ore, and the forms resultant make sense--they're forms that would never be appropriate to clay, and that have everything to do with the properties of metal, regardless of whether some of his modelling was done in clay he clearly did it as if he was modelling in clay a metal sculpture, and the clumps are not the clumps of a hand making clumps (which is wrong for metal, the hand does not form it), but the clumps are more the clumps of something being dumped on from a bucket of dirty half-set metal.

All of these examples, with the exception of bird in space as a contentious one, are figurative. Different rules may apply when we step outside of the figure as how it is [rather than as stylized abstractions of it]. Boccioni's figure [the man in space, or whatever it is called] I can't help thinking is completely appropriate to metal, for example--it's not about hte figure it's about certain forms natural to metal imposed on a figure--it's not really starting from the figure but starting from industrialization and molten metals and sharp edges and motion and energy as things in and of themselves.

I do have one last comment on bronze in particular, and that's that the material can obscure the form quite significantly. My view on this might be different if I considered polished bronze, but the only bronze figurative works I know of are not polished and were not made to be so.

So let me take one example here, of a high enough quality work to demonstrate it. There's a sculpture of Rodin's called "The Bronze Age." Though I have my critiques of the head, the body is in my opinion quite beautifully subtle--a thing I've never seen in any of Rodin's other works. The work is so perfectly and sensitively modelled that it has every bit of understanding of clay that Rodin's works typically have, but, he's constrained himself here, and because of his control and mastery of both the form and his passionate, but truthful fingers, there are the most subtle nuances everywhere. The hips could nearly make one cry. This is all the subtlety that sculpture can have, outside of its gross [as in from-a-distance, coarse, more overall--not as in 'gross'] form. It's still form, as far as I'm concerned, but it's so very fine and form down to every last finger mark. On top of that, as far as consummate beauty in terms of something being true to what makes sculpture sculpture: the thing is increadibly three dimensional. There is no primary view whatsoever, the arm crosses over the face from the front view of the face, and as you move about it's almost constantly pulling you around and makes you both want to move from and stay forever in each position. There are a few minor deadspots, where a view seems dead only because the rest is so profoundly good.

But, now the critique of the bronze: You can barely make out all of this without almost having to touch the thing. Only if you took the time to get 3"s away from the surface of the hip would you see what was happening. From anything but the closest proximity the forms get muddled and it's hard to make out where one plane of the hip changes into another. Half of his work is unintelligble, then, because it was rendered in bronze.

Now, I don't know what the right solution would be for this. I find it terribly dissapointing, but, at the scale he was working at (it's a full height figure), I can't imagine any other material possibility that could have /those/ forms in it. Marble would be all wrong, because half of what makes this piece so beautiful are the finger's shaping it--you loose that in carving stone, you get different beauties, but not the tender pressure of finger against clay as finger presses against skin. And my what skin on this thing. What could rodin have done otherwise, to achieve this thing? I don't know that much about materials, but my guess is that terra cotta would have been near impossilbe at that scale, and wax would have been possible perhaps with an armature because of the huge outstretched arms--but the form would have been different in wax. There is something so clay-like in all of Rodin's works that I can't imagine them being done in anything else.

I have plenty of other examples and complaints I had typed out but I've deleted them. The architecture case is particularly tricky w/r/t the above points, because it is almost never made directly--there's a very clear seperation between plan and implementation of that plan. The same is true of some abstract sculpture. And, it's inherent in the nature of architecture and certain large scale endeavors in general--it's a tricky thing to pull off, and you have to grant a certain loss, or at least different modality, when compared to the whole endeavor of modelling or [stone] sculpture.


[Another absolutely brilliant book {and I mean to speak for myself, above, I am not arguing along the lines of either of these books properly} on the subject of beauty, with regards to both form and materials--from a very materialist rather than metaphysical perspective, is Santayana's The Sense of Beauty... and best of all, it's beautifully written, besides being impecably constructed philosophically. As far as precision goes, what more could someone need than four chapters, entitled, "The Nature of Beauty," "The Materials of Beauty," "Form," and "Expression"].
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Old 12-03-2004, 12:21 AM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

really short clarification:

I don't mean to imply that the sort of thing accomplished in Carpeaux's bust requires facial expression to be achieved. I think the hip of Rodin's The Bronze Age could well achieve the same [though it's hard for it to in Bronze, if it were Terra Cotta, Wax or Marble, and if the head weren't so darned absurd, it'd be well on it's way]... simply the handling of the skin and the structures underneath it, with sufficient sensitivity and love poured into it, can achieve the same profound expression of the human form [i mean all of what it is to be human]--but a good head helps .
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Old 12-03-2004, 02:35 PM
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ExNihiloStudio ExNihiloStudio is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

There is a lot to discuss here; I wish I had more time to get into all of it.

I strenuously disagree about separating the sculptural figure and architecture. I think the opposite should happen Ė they should be brought together and integrated. A painting can afford to ignore the built environment around it, but not a sculpture because sculpture exists in space and architecture has everything to do with defining that space. If you separate the two where does sculpture go except into exile? This is most critical with the figure. The good thing about installation is that an installation has an interaction with the architecture around. Good or bad, at least itís an interaction and the artist is involved with manipulating it. The way I see it, a strict abstract architectural environment will treat the sculptural figure as a virus to be attacked, and the proof of this are the segregated (or quarantined, to stick with the virus metaphor) zones we create where we say ďand here is the sculptureĒ. I canít accept the segregation of the two, figural sculpture and architecture. The classical is very sympathetic to the figure. In fact, if you open your anatomy book and place a labeled diagram next to a labeled elevation of the high classical order youíll see similarities. Each is comprised of parts that cannot be separated without doing great harm to the whole. A fragment of the figure and a fragment of classicism is just that Ė a fragment. Typically modern architecture relies on a repeating module, say a 1:2 square repeated endlessly in any direction. This is anti-figure. Look at the body, it is a mirror image left and right, but vertically not so. Feet, shins, knees, thigh, hip, up and up to the crown. Compare that to the faÁade that looks like a piece of Cartesian graph paper and youíll see why I think the figure is a lonely thing in the abstract city.

Iíve understood inevitability as the direction or final consummation that a tradition is leading to. Maybe this is not the same thing as what youíre thinking of. As far as specific materials are concerned, inevitability makes sense to me. I would re-state it like this: Why is stone the best? Because it is a naturally created material, and when we work it properly we reveal the design and creativity of what made it, the original Creator, i.e., God. Concrete is synthetic, i.e., man-made, and is therefore an imitation of the materials made by the original Creator, and therefore second best and therefore concrete cannot be as compelling as natural stone. Of course my restatement assumes a Christian God for it to make sense and I know not everyone reading this believes in that, but it makes a lot of sense to me.

Bronze has been worked by humans for millennia, and as such became one of the first industrialized materials. Industrialization means division of labor, and for sculptors the settlement has been for the sculptor to create in clay an original that is handed off to specialists for translation into bronze. Rodin and Degas, as far as I know worked within this model. Rodin made his clay originals and sent it out to the shop to be archived either in stone or bronze. Degasí wax pieces were found after he was dead by executors of his estate who decided to have whatever appeared to be salvageable cast into durable materials, i.e. bronze. The industrialization of society means that it is more common for an artist to design something and then send it out to be fabricated by others, a model first laid down by bronze casting. This model clearly presents a copy versus original problem and there does seem to be a bright line between the copy and original. As I mentioned earlier my response is for the artist to do all of the work but I also will add that doing all the work does not mean maintaining the artist/copier divide. When I work it seems like a constant process of course correction, a back and forth working and re-working that moves the piece along to itís consummation. If youíre working and re-working a piece through each step, from clay to wax to bronze, and are willing and open to change it along the way, to perfect it and to take advantage of unforeseen but fortuitous events, then each step becomes a different beginning instead of an act of preservation or replication. So the founder is trying as best he can to replicate the original, but the artist-founder should be free to change the piece at each step. I can also state from experience that experience with starting from clay and moving to bronze will alter oneís perception of the clay if the goal is to get to bronze. In other words, if your horizon is limited to working in clay your whole process is wrapped up in what clay is all about and the rest is mystery, but if you handle the clay and try to imagine where it might be when itís bronze the whole equation changes.

What is the essential nature of bronze? In the 20th century we learned that metal is made up of crystalline shapes, and when metal is heated the crystals move apart and are free to move about at which point the material is liquid. When metal cools the outermost layer freezes first and the crystals seem to align themselves in a pattern. This continues towards the core, and as the crystals align less and less floating space becomes available, so the near perfect alignment at the outer layers gradually becomes more chaotic towards the core. Incidentally, the regular alignment has greater structural strength so if youíre trying to make a strong casting then youíll want to control the crystal alignment as best you can during cooling. Under magnification this resembles the snowflake pattern you see on brand new galvanized trash cans. Is this the true and inevitable nature of bronze from a purist point of view? Again I sense the tug of abstraction here.
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Old 12-03-2004, 07:07 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Sorry to be a little rough on you with the comments on architecture, but I feel that you aren't giving me any principles to work with. You're saying a lot of common academic-pop phrases, but you aren't supporting them or relating them. Nor are you giving me any concrete examples. And if we aren't working with concrete examples, then we're not practicing philosophy but merely imaginary mental games. Philosophy needs to be intimately related with human experience and to influence human action. Concepts like "the abstract city" and '"integration" being an indiscriminate good' without saying why or how have nothing to do with that. They're unexamined received ideas that afflict our culture. A bit of reflection should either cause you to understand a better basis to them [they aren't WRONG, they're just not examined and so are shallowly held, they could be held in an examined, systematic way that gave them real power and force], or give htem up.

The gist of my perhaps more venomous rhetoric below is that I despise the mental self-indulgence in imaginary worlds, otherwise known as ACADEMICISM.

I assure you all of the greatest architects, sculptors and painters in history would walk out of room laughing if they heard someone talking about "the abstract city" or "interactive" sculptures. They didn't think about things in such terms, and it didn't stop them from achieving things that dwarf any of the high accomplishments of modernism [where this academicism began--because people started to love criticism more than art; manifestos more than materializations]. The academy is a particularly modern influence, and a rather unfortunate one. We'd learn more without hte magazines and grad schools and instead having apprenticeships of real work. This is an impossibility these days, as the academicism has infiltrated everywhere, and what was once art has been lost perhaps nearly forever, besides the brief up-bubblings of it here or there on occasion. Most of what we call art today is dispassionate rhetoric, amusement or self-love--or the worst of all: the cultus of 'interesting things' [the more common name for amusement].


Quote:
Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
I strenuously disagree about separating the sculptural figure and architecture. I think the opposite should happen Ė they should be brought together and integrated.
I think this is precisely this sort of thinking that has destroyed teh arts in the last 100 years. People seem to value what they call 'integration' but what I'd consider to be, for the most part, an ad-hoc agglomeration. What this does is it completely violates the nature of each side being brought into supposed synthesis, it makes each one parasitic to the other. This is what makes Architecture so difficult--as it can be taken to have either the ends of beauty or the ends of expediency. What happens, rather than someone choosing one ends and one ends only, and making the other absolutely subordinate to it, is that they try and find some sort of "middle ground" where the thing is half ugly and half useless. [Some of] The modernists had some truth in their strict utilitarianism [and the secret here is that one very high form of beauty is that of economy, so a purely utilitarian thing can achieve that sort of beauty quite easily if done rigorously iwth an eye for economy], as did the greeks in their strict ends of beauty. But this is a synthesis in terms of ends--though it illustrates my point about the dangers of synthesis. Another example is painting and sculpture--i think most of us would agree that polychromy KILLS a sculpture of the human form, and makes for a lousy painting too. There's no reason why you should expect architecture and figurative sculpture, which are as different as figurative painting and figurative sculpture, to do anything different.

I think the contemporary tendency to view 'interdisciplinariasm' (and variety, too--it's connected) as a value shows a complete disregard of what ever made any of the things we wish to 'integrate' beautiful. You really must question any view you hold that is so fully present as a cultural norm--if you think the lust for shallow synthesis is unique to the academics, consider the Pluot [it's a mix of a plum and an apricot for god know's why, I suppose so you can taste every fruit as "tropical mix" instead of as distinct flavors], and the other new fruits.

But the argument is far deeper. What's good for one thing is not good for another. A good poem makes a bad painting, and vice versa. You have to understand the nature of the art in question, and once you do, I'm sure you'll undrestand why it has been for thousands of years kept seperate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
A painting can afford to ignore the built environment around it, but not a sculpture because sculpture exists in space and architecture has everything to do with defining that space.
Sculpture is not, and was never, about defining a space for human inhabitation, nor was it ever. This is what architecture is about. Give me an example of what you mean here--it sounds like your making a curatorial argument for a gallery, or complaining about bad pedastels in public parks, or bad placement of sculptural objects. And caring about the 'context' completely defeats the ultimate beauty of sculpture but giving it a second ends. Now it becomes about it's self and "it has to work with the paneling in this room too." True masterpieces, whether of architecture or sculpture, are self-complete and are not considering their 'context' in the way your thinking of it. This doesn't mean architecture shouldn't consider the trees around it, the horizon, the lay of the mountains in the distance--this is not 'context' but an essential part of the material of the landscape that it is working with as part of it's composition. I think what your calling sculpture, I woudl call architecture. The figure has no place serving a function as one compositional part within a larger whole of an architectural space. Treating it as such would be a complete destruction of the work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
If you separate the two where does sculpture go except into exile?
I don't undrestand. I really don't see any relationship between the two, so you need to be more explicit and thorough as to waht the relationship is, and not let these words, unsupported, try to carry your argument. Why would sculpture go into exile? What do you mean by exile? To my knowledge during the peaks of sculpture it was always kept seperate from architecture--Bernini being a rare exception; and in Bernini's case I'd say it's more that Architecture and Sculpture are just a form of persuasive theatre that is not art but a form of emotional manipulation. Mind you, I also think Bernini can be a great sculptor sometimes, you have to take it work by work. In almost all other cases, I see sculpture having the highest seat when it is allowed to be it's self. Though the ornament of gothic buildings, as a very particular and true form of art, appears at first glance to be an integration of sculpture and architecture, I think the sculpture suffered from this, when compared to renaiassance and post-renaiassance sculpture, as well as greek. In greece the temple architecture wasn't architecture at all, but sculpture and EXPLICITLY made such. It had no intention of being inhabited and every bit of the way it was made was for beauty as a total ends. The sculpture in it was made seperately. The two were both sculpture's of the same god, in different forms. Each was kept to it's own nature, though. And the only relation was being from teh same mother, not being integrated. Each obeyed it's own laws.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
This is most critical with the figure. The good thing about installation is that an installation has an interaction with the architecture around.
Another unexamined and customary view. What is the 'interaction' concept you're speaking of? What do you mean by it? Why is it valued as good?

Most people use the term interaction quite incorrectly: an inanimate object cannot act. Interactoin has to do with two conscious entities. Sculpture and architecture are not endowed with consciousness. They have no actions, no will, they are not animate things. I assume what you mean is that in a compositional sense the thing becomes a single composition, rather than a composition within a composition. I covered this above. The single composition to me is a destruction of the sculpture entirely. It should be, like a painting, a composition within a composition (the latter being the wall it sits on and teh proximity it has to other paintings). But when looking at the thing if it's a half decent piece of art we hopefully forget it's 'context' entirely and grant it our attention. Only a distracted and aesthetically insensitive viewer looks at a sculpture garden as a 'sculpture garden' instead of this sculpture, and that sculpture, and that sculpture (primarily, with some after thoughts on parting about how one might be a response to another or how they are positioned int he plane... we're arguing here about the 'art' [I should say craft] of curation, basically. I like good composition of artworks in relation to eachother, but, in all honesty, the white walled approach works best--the art of curation is a necessity, but we'd be better if we could avoid it altogether and just have a single sculpture in an empty room with nothing else and with no walls blocking the light. We can't do this, so then all these things become an issue, but they become an issue only in that they should be crafted well enough so as to make them MOOT. A good set designer makes the set disappear, so that we are fully pulled into the world of the thing in front of us.


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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
Good or bad, at least itís an interaction and the artist is involved with manipulating it.
Once again, what value is an interaction? Why make the world into a lump of undifferentiated experience by imagining each sculpture should become part of each buuilding which should become part of each 'city' which in turn should integrate with the culture it is bred from, means we end up occupying a world that is nothing but a lump of inarticulate mass. In our every day experience we encounter only pieces of things, never a whole. The sculpture is PART of it's surroundings. A hideious existence, in my opinion. To confront an autonomous, determinate object is a great find as a human being. To pick up a stone resting conspicously on a matt of grass, is quite the pleasure and quite the real substance of life. In your obsession over the field, you forget the different beauties of hte idfferent flowers, and instead love this meaningless mass of experience which only has it's recourse to life through quantity, not quality.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
The way I see it, a strict abstract architectural environment will treat the sculptural figure as a virus to be attacked, and the proof of this are the segregated (or quarantined, to stick with the virus metaphor) zones we create where we say ďand here is the sculptureĒ.
This is a good thought, develop it further I'd like to undrestand what you mean more. An example could help me to understand. I mainly have no idea what you mean by "a strict abstract architectural environment." What do you mean by abstract architecture? The only abstract architecture I know of is the non-architecture we call 'conceptual architecture' that exists only on paper and not in materials. And what do you mean by 'architectural environment' veruss just 'architecture.'?

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
I canít accept the segregation of the two, figural sculpture and architecture.
To segregate is to dis-integrate. That's not what's happening. You're arguing to integrate two things which were always different things. I am not segregating teh fish from the fowl by refusing to cross-breed a falcon and a fry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
The classical is very sympathetic to the figure.
"The"? classical [what?]? The classical greek architecture, The neoclassical french painting? What do you mean here?

Are yout alking architecture or sculpture now? See I think the problem is
maybe we mean different things by "the figure." I mean figurative sculpture. I'm not treating people who move about in space as forms of 'the figure'--they're people, human beings, not stones. They're not works of art nor are they part of hte composition of a work of art. So I think here you mean "classical architecture in it's proportioning system justly considered the nature of the human form in which it would be perceived relative to." Which is true. Modern architecture did the same too--Wright is one of the best examples if you've been in one of his buildings. Such humane scale too! And he's modern.

Further, what about Gothic? It understood the human body, and it made it feel small and insignificant [which I think is a perfectly valid architecture]? Do you have qualms with gothic? What do you mean by the way in which they should be related?

And, waht do you mean by classical--Roman or Greek perhaps? The two are very very very different architecturally. They bear almost no relation besides that the romans superficially used inaccurate Greek iconography for their columns. Greek architecture that we know of is predominantly about a form for the purpose of beauty as an object, in the same way as sculpture is. Roman is about interior form of a space. Both are resolutely three dimensional, though I think Greek is perhaps more so, they understand the insetting of columns and the necessary indents in walls to keep them being perceived as planes rather than as volumes, and to keep a more intimate interpenetration of space.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
In fact, if you open your anatomy book and place a labeled diagram next to a labeled elevation of the high classical order youíll see similarities. Each is comprised of parts that cannot be separated without doing great harm to the whole. A fragment of the figure and a fragment of classicism is just that Ė a fragment. Typically modern architecture relies on a repeating module, say a 1:2 square repeated endlessly in any direction. This is anti-figure.
What do you mean by figure anyway--you're treating humans as if they're some sort of abstraction. I think you mean to treat a stone sculpture of a human body the same as a human being. I don't see any relationship whatsoever here. You say "the figure" here and I'm thinking you mean people walking through a building, right? I thought we were talking about figurative sculpture and architecture, not human beings and architecture. Did I miss something?

Assuming you're now talking about human beings: Anti-figure? No, it's simply a different formal system, which has certainly it's own beauty, and goes back to greece as much as any other place. And, I really don't like to periodize, besides. Pick works or ouvre's. Historical relation is the least significant of any decent work. It suffices for crass mannerisms that may invade culture from time to time, but a masterwork is not a product of it's time, and transcends attempts to imprison it within a time or place.

You've made no effort to talk about works, and to me this illustrates an aesthetic numbness. If you were moved by something you'd speak about the thing itself [a specific building or sculptural work]. Instead you talk about /concepts/ of things. Clearly the interest here for you has nothing to do with a love of architecture but a love of architectural theory. The same goes for art. Are you deriving your whole argument from a theoretical understanding of things not from something you've seen? When I speak about sculpture or architecture, all my knowledge comes from the works themselves. If I complain about a stale deadness in Canova, it's becasue I am comparing him to Cellini or Michelangelo. But I don't talk abstractly about "architectural environments" and "figures" independent of particular works of art and without any influence from works of art or from human experience [I don't mean it has to come from works of art, it could come from nature--but then say "Ah, the oak tree, it is so beautiful because it's arm's stretch out like the arms of a human! And it' ssymmetry is there in rough, but not in detail, in detail it is a complex undulations of constant curves and distinct materiality of texture. This is what architecure and sculpture should be!" [To which I would rightly reply: "Only a tree can have the beauty of a tree; a building the beauty of a building; and a stone figure the beauty of a stone figure."]

Back to the 1:2 thing, though, I feel you aren't working out the math at all, or even trying:

Now, first of all, it is simply untrue that modern architecture uses indiscriminate, repeated 1:2 ratio modules. In fact, I know of almost no architecture that does this. Le Corbusier used his 'Modulor' system of proportioning which had EVERYTHING to do with the figure, it was a series of anthropomorphic measurements and proportions very akin to the Greek's system. It wasn't mean to be stupidly repeated--nor is someone who uses 1:2 as part of their systme. Or 1:4... I mean and where are these proportions, in plan or section? And what's the height? An 6 foot high by twelve foot wide structure is intimately connected to the scale of the person perceiving it. Similarly, 1:2 is the vision we have, roughly, in that we have two eyes placed side by side [discounting peripheral vision the part of our vision that composes the core of what we are looking at is pretty close to 1:2 in proportion].

On top of that, the whole proportioning your talking about only applies to the flat elevation view of a perfectly postured human. Why on earth should anything other than elevation dimensions relate to teh human's elevation? When you say 1:2 proportion it's CRITICAL as to WHAT scale and WHERE these proportions are. In plan or in elevation? What's the scale? 1 metres to 2 metres doesn't relate to a human figure, but 6 feet to 3 feet does quite a bit, in elevation. 72 feet by 18 feet, in plan OR elevation, has nothing to do with the figure, but 72 inchies by 18 inches in elevation has a lot to do with it.

If you're going to make a gemoetric argument, be serious about it. The kind of argument you made would pass for profound in a contemporary art magazine, but would just put question marks over the head of every mathemetician, furniture designer, or real architect [one who has actually built a great many buildings].

FURTHER: the whole way Greek proportioning worked so well is that it was SCULPTURE NOT ARCHITECTURE. It could be taken in as a single discrete object. In fact, it was made perfect to do this. At the acropolis each building is put at an angle relative to the viewer's position upon entering the site that reveals two sies of the structure completely [and god is it amazing!]. The greeks are pure geniuses for this, as it was a huge adavncement over past gridded systems in which either no consideration relative to position of viewer was made (which is FINE for some endeavors, but what te greeks are focusing on is compelling an in the round experience, and they're interested in significant perspectival poitns in a field)... by doing, this since the structures are regular in form, they reveal THE WHOLE object as such. The entire nature of the object can be taken in from one point. Even if one has to approach it and move around it, it's all an experience from OUTSIDE THE OBJECT. It's a language of objects within a field. And in it's object-iveness, and the FACT that no one is even supposed to enter these buildings, makes it really a sculpture. If you don't believe me just do some research on it. The temple is based on the traidtional greek house, except, get this, they put it inside out. Houses were made for beauty fromt he inside, temple's from teh outside. That's why the load bearing walls rest inside and the columns on the outside. In a house for human inhabitation, hey would have done it the inverse. They inverted it because they wanted the thing to be beautiful as an object, not an inhabitation.

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Look at the body, it is a mirror image left and right, but vertically not so. Feet, shins, knees, thigh, hip, up and up to the crown. Compare that to the faÁade that looks like a piece of Cartesian graph paper and youíll see why I think the figure is a lonely thing in the abstract city.
First, what city do you live in? In new york most buildings are 'pre-modern.' Even the 'modern' buildings have a great variety, each built around entirely different rules [or lack thereof] of proportion. I don't see what makes this abstract, and I never walk around seeing Cartesian grids on facades. I see facades that look for the most part, whether modern or otherwise, in terms of proportion, no different than 14th century italian facades. Not saying this is good, I think 99% of buildings are relatively not worth a second glance, but it has nothing to dow ith whether they're based on a 'cartesian geometry' or not.

On top of that, you're talking facade proportions. I think if we want to talk facades we should talk about paintings or drawings. Architecture has to do with three dimensions, not two. As do bodies. To compare them in this manner is absurd. What eaxctly is the _abstract_ city too? Do you mean a city described in a book? I'm being sarcastic I know, but I just think you're pulling out contemporary art nonesense without backing it up. You use abstract lightly with no elucidation as to how you mean it. For me to understand any of what you mean you need to define (1) Architecture (2) Sculpture (3) Abstract (4) Environment (5) Interaction, and so forth. Mainly, just defining Sculpture and Architecture would be great.

Plus, your argument here is about SYMMETRY, not PROPORTION! This has nothing to do with a cartesian grid, you're simply talking about vertical versus horizontal symmetry. And I don't know why you think that hte figure's relationship to architecture shoudl be so damned literal as to say "the body isn't symmetrical vertically (across a horizontal axis), therefore architecture shouldn't be symmetrical vertically, but the body is symmetrical horizontally (across a vertical axis) therefore architecture should be symmetrical horizontally."

This is an absurd argument, unless you mean to say that architecture's sole function should be a dumb abstraction in facade of a 2 dimensional frontal stance of a figure, scaled up. And even then, it doesn't make sense how that would be an 'integration' versus simple and rote mimicry. In fact, all around, I can't fathom an integrated figurative sculpture/building. Could you explain or give an example? Do you mean the door handles would be hands and the entrences mouths? All cantilevers of planes disappear? Would the buidlings all be towers? Would they be made of fabric and tensioned wires, with lumpy masses of insulation in between and tubular steel underneath it all? What IS IT that you propose? Has it ever occurred in the past, can you point me towards a building? And if not, do you mean to say that the last 10 thousand years of civilization have been doing everything wrong and somehow just never put one and two together? Or do you just mean to say that you like egypitan architecture the best [which, talk about cartesian grid!] because it carved both sculpture and figures into rock faces as part of the same construction, at a scale and proportion that didn't necessarily relate to that of a human being? Without examples, without some intention here, everything I read becomes vacuous. And where's this all stem from? Is it a love of something beautiful? or Good? or True? If so, what? Where's the passion? Is there any? Where does it arise from--how is it verified in human experience?
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Old 12-03-2004, 07:09 PM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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(part two)

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
Iíve understood inevitability as the direction or final consummation that a tradition is leading to. Maybe this is not the same thing as what youíre thinking of. As far as specific materials are concerned, inevitability makes sense to me. I would re-state it like this: Why is stone the best? Because it is a naturally created material, and when we work it properly we reveal the design and creativity of what made it, the original Creator, i.e., God. Concrete is synthetic, i.e., man-made, and is therefore an imitation of the materials made by the original Creator, and therefore second best and therefore concrete cannot be as compelling as natural stone. Of course my restatement assumes a Christian God for it to make sense and I know not everyone reading this believes in that, but it makes a lot of sense to me.
I don't mean a tradition coming towards inevitability, I mean a form. Inevitability of form is what I'm talking about. That in stonehenge when you use an inset trilith (that is, two vertical elements with a horizontal span that is inset half way on each pillar), the ONLY form that can result is a closed form--the natural one being the circle. This is inevitablity of ofrm that I'm talking about. That "one solution to a SPECIFIC problem." Not that one thing that was "bound to happen sooner or later" which is waht I take "as the direction or final consummation that a tradition is leading to."

So it is likely that I didn't make myself clear when I used the term, and I apologize. Your meaning of inevitablity is a fine one, but you mean cultural inevitability I think. So we're talking about two different things.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
As far as specific materials are concerned, inevitability makes sense to me. I would re-state it like this: Why is stone the best? Because it is a naturally created material, and when we work it properly we reveal the design and creativity of what made it, the original Creator, i.e., God. Concrete is synthetic, i.e., man-made, and is therefore an imitation of the materials made by the original Creator, and therefore second best and therefore concrete cannot be as compelling as natural stone. Of course my restatement assumes a Christian God for it to make sense and I know not everyone reading this believes in that, but it makes a lot of sense to me.
I don't get teh relation of this idea to inevitability (either of form or of cultural projections). What your arguing here doesn't assume christian god, but it does assume divine creation. It seems sort of simplistic to me (because it is a guess at something, without a test of that guess), in that, god also made piranha's that devour starving children when they fall of rafts--if we then took a picture of a starving child being devoured by piranha's it woudln't be beautiful, at least not in my opinion. God also made feces, idiana limestone and rotting grapefruits, none of which I find particularly beautiful. In fact, I prefer cement to feces any day, if only for the neutrality of the odour. Unless you want to argue that man makes feces, which would be inconsistent with chrisitan creationist theology.

I'm fine with a metaphysic viewpoint, and I'm fine with a Christian theology too, I just don't think it's a very strong argument. Nihilism or Catholicism I'm equally okay with--so long as they're rigorously understood and self-consistent. Just like a good work of art, an argument or philosophy should be self-complete without relying on external associations or expecting an empty word to bear the weight of what should be a clearly stated relationship.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
Bronze has been worked by humans for millennia, and as such became one of the first industrialized materials. Industrialization means division of labor, and for sculptors the settlement has been for the sculptor to create in clay an original that is handed off to specialists for translation into bronze. Rodin and Degas, as far as I know worked within this model. Rodin made his clay originals and sent it out to the shop to be archived either in stone or bronze. Degasí wax pieces were found after he was dead by executors of his estate who decided to have whatever appeared to be salvageable cast into durable materials, i.e. bronze. The industrialization of society means that it is more common for an artist to design something and then send it out to be fabricated by others, a model first laid down by bronze casting.
The division of labour argument is weak. The reason something is done mechanically or using assistants, is because it's a mechanical and mindless process. The system of transferring to stone called pointing [I assume you know about this system already I can describe it if necessary] was used before the renaissance--it has nothing to do with industrialization and everything to do with that something was modelled in a plastic material so that it could be really developed freely, and then the work left to do to turn it to stone seemed like sheer drudgery and so was either done mindlessly or by assistants or by mechanical methods. In any event, it's all the same--the problem is that the real art of it was already done in a different material.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
This model clearly presents a copy versus original problem and there does seem to be a bright line between the copy and original. As I mentioned earlier my response is for the artist to do all of the work but I also will add that doing all the work does not mean maintaining the artist/copier divide. When I work it seems like a constant process of course correction, a back and forth working and re-working that moves the piece along to itís consummation. If youíre working and re-working a piece through each step, from clay to wax to bronze, and are willing and open to change it along the way, to perfect it and to take advantage of unforeseen but fortuitous events, then each step becomes a different beginning instead of an act of preservation or replication. So the founder is trying as best he can to replicate the original, but the artist-founder should be free to change the piece at each step. I can also state from experience that experience with starting from clay and moving to bronze will alter oneís perception of the clay if the goal is to get to bronze. In other words, if your horizon is limited to working in clay your whole process is wrapped up in what clay is all about and the rest is mystery, but if you handle the clay and try to imagine where it might be when itís bronze the whole equation changes.

EXACTLY! I'm glad you see eye to eye with me here--and this is the one spot in the writing so far where you've based everything on actual experience--all for the better. These are experiences I know nothing of and it helps to hear it said from someone who has worked with bronze. The trick, I imagine, is to understand the nature of hte materials your working with [bronze], and to undrestand that the clay is a model of a /bronze/ statue. And this is /tricky/.

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Originally Posted by ExNihiloStudio
What is the essential nature of bronze? In the 20th century we learned that metal is made up of crystalline shapes, and when metal is heated the crystals move apart and are free to move about at which point the material is liquid. When metal cools the outermost layer freezes first and the crystals seem to align themselves in a pattern. This continues towards the core, and as the crystals align less and less floating space becomes available, so the near perfect alignment at the outer layers gradually becomes more chaotic towards the core. Incidentally, the regular alignment has greater structural strength so if youíre trying to make a strong casting then youíll want to control the crystal alignment as best you can during cooling. Under magnification this resembles the snowflake pattern you see on brand new galvanized trash cans. Is this the true and inevitable nature of bronze from a purist point of view? Again I sense the tug of abstraction here.
The reason you see abstraction is because your looking through a microsocope instead of through your eyes. The science of this is useful, to understand the nature of bronze, but the result of that particular pattern will happen when you look at any material through a microscope--it's always snowflakes and other cellular organizations--almost always, at least. But that doesnt' give the authority that those are good forms when scaled up, or that they're universeal forms--they're only such at the atomic scale, which is foreign to human perception.

We know the nature of bronze if we work with it--you don't need science to undersatnd the material. That's making art about technology, besides (which is 90% of hte art we have today--we read magazine articles about some technological or social-theoretic change and then go to our rawing boards and see how we can /use/ that to create something 'new' and 'fresh'--not saying you're all victims to this, I'm talking contemporary art /scene/ here....)...

Bronze is a tricky thing because it never occurs naturally, it's nature results to some degree from the varying processes in which it is made or used. And this is fine, it doesn't degrade the material by it being engineered. It just means that we have to make our form based on our undresatnding of the nature of hte material in how it's being used and how it reacts to how it's being used. For other things, wehre there is no inherent /process/ aspect to the materials, we can look at the natural forms of them. Like river stones or scholars rocks. But, in sculpting a stone, it's just as valid to consider the nature of the point or the toothed chisel.

When I say 'knowing' or 'considering' the nature of a material I don't mean that it's an intellectual activity either. It's done as part of an series of doings and undergoings [or resistances to those doings, too] had when working in a material. The wood carver carves with the grain of the wood because his chisel slips and he cuts himself when he tries to carve cross-wise. The plastacine modeller works in small bits of clay because the pieces don't adhere well when he tries to place large mass against large mass. The wood joiner joins based on the understanding that gluing endgrain to endgrain never holds. And the boat builder keeps his joints loose because he knows they'll break under the buckling of the sea if they're kept tight. The boat builder may not be able to tell you a damned thing about the cellular structure of wood, or the formulas for it's strength in tension and compression, but he understands wood, as a material for use in boatbuilding, far better than the theoritiican.
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Old 12-04-2004, 08:40 AM
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Re: direct modeling withou ...; goals

Hpatenaude, Hanee - I think youíre mistaking the nature of this forum - itís not philosophy, but a discourse among working sculptors and sculptors-in-expectation. I started reading your recent posts last night, but I have a dialup connection, so I decided to copy them to read offline.

I donít have to defend Mark (ExNihilo) here. He can do that for himself. But I have trouble personally with your descriptions. This world is a real place, so far as that concept exists, and reality is not perfect.

You talk at length about Rodinís ďAge of BronzeĒ, and I agree itís an excellent work, with many of the defects you note. I saw side-by-side reproductions of the sculpture and a photograph of the model in a similar pose some dozen years ago, in a recently published study of his work. From these illustrations, it was clear that he reproduced most of the model almost exactly, with the exception of two areas - the head and the genitals. The former Iím sure he wanted to generalize, in a bow to tradition of the day, and the latter he minimalized to a degree, doubtless for the same reason.

You also talk at length about Carpeauxí ďLa DanseĒ or figure of similar title. I saw the original in the Louvre many years ago, plus a reproduction in plaster in Londonís Albert Hall, and I think I also may have seen a terra-cotta of the sort you describe. My impression was one of silliness, though doubtless the work was intended to be light and a bit frivolous.

Stone itself also is not permanent, apart from the problem of fracturing. I was surprised about ten years ago, on a second visit to Florence, to realize that Michelangeloís David has suffered a fair degree of dissolution on the upper right leg, again doubtless from water dripping from the arm while it sat outdoors for several centuries.

Most of these points I have mentioned elsewhere on this forum. I repeat them to say that I agree with many of your remarks, but I also have to say that I hope you will examine the Community and its goals more closely.

Last edited by fritchie : 12-04-2004 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 12-04-2004, 09:22 AM
hpatenaude hpatenaude is offline
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Discourse means a structured and reasoned system of related parts. The Greeks would call a building a discourse, as well as a sculpture. They wouldn't call small talk discourse, or a two sentence comment. So perhaps you should consider retitling what the forums are if you don't wish to have discourse in them.

With regards to the goals of the community, I can't imagine what else working sculptors and sculptors-in-expectation would talk about besides working methods, understanding the nature of their art, and reasoned critiques of works. Understanding the nature of their art is resolutely philosophy, and to some degree, so are working methods, as they are all subsumed under certain overarching ends of the work. Certainly any critique has to come from a certain philosophical standpoint--even if it's technical in nature. We can either choose to help a person by revealing the ground on which we are standing when we criticize, or we can leave them with 'just another arbitrary view' by concealing it [or by not having a ground, at least not having one that is clear to one's self].

But, mind you, I certainly appreciate if you mean that it is only to ask simple, non-controversial questions, share images, and get critical responses [which I would imagine, if they were any good of course, could be quite long and critique on the basis of more than mere craft--take Lessing's famous essay on Laocoon, for example.]

Now, to be more personal: I had no aim whatsoever of making this a discussion of the philosophy of art or the nature of the definite distinctions between each form of art. But, I feel a person who asks me a question has a right to a frank and thorough response. I feel the question "why do you want to do figurative sculpture" should, for a person, be akin to "what do you feel the entire meaning of [your] life is"--if they have any passionate interest in it and if they have truly chosen it as their life's work. And a long response, that necessarily will be admixed with a certain amount of philosophy, may very well be expected. When I posted I kept my questions to an absolute minimum, and I avoided getting into this sort of conversation. But I would feel it dishonest for someone to ask me a very frank question, to request that I elucidate something I had tried to keep relatively out of the picture, and to deny that request or oversimplify[molest] it. I'm sure you can understand the difficulty in a decision of this sort.

Now the nature of whether this is a productive thing or not, is certainly up for debates, as are the quality of my off-the-cuff responses [they are not as interconnected as they should be]. In my opinion likely no one will profit from this thread. This is unfortunate for myself as well as others. And to this degree I respect your comment and I should have perhaps said "Well, I have my reasons, let's leave it at that." Or to have responded to the things non-contentious and clearly personal (the question of why figurative sculpture) but not to those things in debate, no matter how much I felt someone's views to be unscrupulously constructed.

Certainly I will keep all this in mind, and already intended to expand these arguments no further.

[w/r/t La Danse--the bust I'm talking about is not the same as the head of the figure's in the work, it's a study done I believe afterwards or during the creation of hte danse, as a bust of a figure in it, but not necessarily in the same pose or with the same handling. I agree the overall work, though I have not seen it, seems rather light and inconsequential.]
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Old 12-04-2004, 08:25 PM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Thanks for clarifying your approach, Hanee, and I see no harm done. However, most people here, myself included, probably have never tried to develop a fully consistent and logical approach to any part of their lives, much less the full life. You seem to be especially analytical, and your comments will be appreciated for that. Please continue to participate fully.
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Old 12-05-2004, 01:32 AM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

Iím a slow writer so I think the best way for me to make my case is to give you a quick snap shop tour of my beloved Boston and point out what I think is good and what I wish there was more of.

Earlier you mentioned that a work of art should be its most compelling when viewed in person. I agree with this completely, and since I canít afford to travel around to visit the best and havenít much chance to do so in the past I make a point of visiting whatís in my neighborhood. My examples below wonít make it into any textbooks but itís whatís around my area and itís what I can visit. The photographs were taken by me for my own reference and specific needs at the time, so theyíre all horrible snapshots but theyíre the best evidence I have on hand of what I think matters.


Here is the front lawn of the State House of Massachusetts. The three statues in this picture are what I mean by the figure. I love that there are several of them relatively close together. Due to security itís not easy to get close to these. The two on the left flank the front steps, so you must pass between them to get to the front door which I think is important, although the background doesnít help them very much.

After you leave the State House you can wander through the Boston Common and see a number of other statues like these. Most are mediocre, but they are infinitely better than captured artillery or boulders with bronze plaques affixed to them. After you walk through the Commons you come to the next example.



This is the George Washington monument near Commonwealth Ave. & Arlington. My picture doesnít show how beautifully framed this monument is by the trees and skyline and park fence. In warm weather the tourist photographers and open air painters consistently set up in about the same spot to get a picture of this. This monument fills me with awe every time I see it, it has a certain power and restraint held together just so. This is the best sculpture in the entire city and every time I visit it I say to myself ďThis is how an equestrian statue should be done.Ē Vandals regularly break off and steal the sword blade and itís missing in this snapshot.

Next you can walk down the Commonwealth Ave. mall, which is a long narrow park with a road running along each side. There is a monument or two every block.



This one looks great at a distance, it has a wonderfully imposing silhouette that is beautifully framed by the nearby trees, especially when they have leaves. This is a good one to visit on a rainy day because the rain adds to the gloomy seriousness of this one, plus I donít think it works as well up close because of the modeling and the minimal concrete block pedestal.



Here is a typical Commonwealth Ave. Mall monument. Every example Iíve given so far was erected to honor a citizen for exemplary public service. I would miss these if they were gone, regardless of their aesthetic quality, and I would like to see more. The wonderful part of all this is that they are all part of the city, out in the open. You risk getting sunburn, wet, or cold going to visit them and that is part of the experience. I realize the surrounding environment is terribly distracting, but I would love them less or even not at all if they were put in a museum or sequestered park.



This is a horrible photograph, unfortunately itís the best my camera can do. Itís the federal courthouse on Post Office Square. Here you can see three eagles up top and the long cylindrical things flanking the windows directly below the eagles are fasces. The buildings around this one are taller so you can only catch glimpses like this as you walk around. You canít really see them from the base of the building, you have to move a block away. I stood in the middle of the street to take this photograph.



This is the Copley Sq. branch of the public library. I think the sculpture on the left is called ďSculptureĒ and the one on the right is ďPaintingĒ Again I would love these a lot less if they were isolated in a museum, but they mean something in front of the library. There is some related sculpture over the doors. Inside the front doors there is a monumental staircase with a pair of stunning stone lions Ė the best lions in the city. There are a lot of lions in Boston, on buildings, monuments, in front of doors, in surprising places and Iím glad theyíre all there.



My Boston files are almost depleted so weíll have detour north about 20 miles to Winchester to see this one, itís the WWI monument and cemetery at Oak Grove. There is a steep rise in elevation from the street level to the monument in the center, so you have to walk up quite a few steps to get there. You pass by the grave markers that flank the path to get to the monument at the high point. It has relief work on 4 sides, eagles on the bottom, and a doughboy on the top standing in a crucifix form with his chest bared. The thing about this one is the brow is a little pronounced so it casts a shadow on the eyes to give the face a ghoulish look, which I think is a little over the top because the cemetery location alone is enough to remind me of mortality.



Back to Boston. This is the Custom House on Custom House St. I would miss the griffins on the corners below the clock and above the neoclassical columns if they were taken away. When Iím thinking of sculpture and architecture together Iím thinking of things like this.



This is the abstract city. No eagles, no lions, no horses, no bronze people, no griffins, no stone roses, angels, and so on. Iím not crazy about sculpture that looks like this either.



The tall building on the right is the Hancock tower off Copley Sq. When I vaguely mentioned 1:2 grid and Cartesian graph paper I was thinking of this building. I donít know if the glass panels are actually 1:2 but that is my gut reaction to them. Itís like graph paper because I donít see why the grid of glass panels shouldnít extend to infinity in every direction except due to mundane limits such as economy, structure, or how long we could stand to ride an elevator. I would prefer it to have a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. I think the portions of the earlier examples Iíve provided have a top and a bottom, and I relate to this like a personís body has a top and a bottom, and a Greek temple has a top and a bottom.
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Old 12-05-2004, 01:42 AM
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Re: direct modeling without an armature: can i do it with wax?

This has been a VERY exciting thread and I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm delighted by the thoughtful responses. It has definitely stimulated my mind which is why I participate here.
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