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  #26  
Old 04-24-2003, 02:47 AM
benny benny is offline
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figurative art dead?

An example of 'dead' figurative art -
a sarcophagus! Maybe you mean rather boring lifeless armless statuettes or portraits of dolphins and or pregnant women etc... yes? Conceptually, what kind of dead do you think the human figure has become in culture just now? Dead as in the cold hard steel of a door nail? Or just dead boring? Please clarify any prejudice you may have against figurative work. Be scathing if you need to..I won't take it personally. Thanks.
When culture has been totally deconstructed perhaps we might see them piling real bodies into bottomless pits and calling it art....
Clear as Mud.

Benny
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  #27  
Old 04-24-2003, 10:38 AM
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Victoria- Two thoughts about the "deadness" (lifelessness?) of Greek sculpture:

One, material and technique have an incredible bearing on the appearance of a work. In the images above, notice the bronze work has a less compact body, with arms outstretched and legs spread. Notice the marble sculpture on the right which is more compact and column-like. Because of the tensile strength of bronze, it opens the sculptor up to more superficial "expressiveness" because there is less chance of the arm just shearing right off under its own weight which it may in the marble. Perhaps the limitations of marble actually led the sculpture to a more delicate, subtle expression. That would be a more Eastern way of thought.

Second, it is difficult to compare drawing to sculpture. From your teacher's standpoint, you've got a piece of paper in front of you with no physical limitations on the positions the body can be contorted. "Expressiveness" tends to be equated with expansiveness, i.e. the busier it is, the more lively it is. Expression can be confused with melodrama.

Likewise, now that any material is open to being used for sculpture, the result may be drastically different than what the Greeks accomplished in marble. Works in steel can actually attain the expansiveness of the line on paper. Likewise, many steel sculptors confuse expansiveness with expression.

Just some thoughts.

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  #28  
Old 04-25-2003, 05:35 PM
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Re: figurative art dead?

Quote:
Originally posted by benny

When culture has been totally deconstructed perhaps we might see them piling real bodies into bottomless pits and calling it art....
Clear as Mud.

Benny
until then we'll just keep calling it war...

Clear as Mud.
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  #29  
Old 04-25-2003, 07:17 PM
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Is the theatrical nature of Ron Muecks work http://www.artmolds.com/ali/halloffame/ron_muek.htm anything different to the inner life depicted by Rodin?

I don't believe figurative sculpture is dead, but what it has left to say, can only well be said in the private, personal act of the individual viewer and the work.
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  #30  
Old 04-25-2003, 11:27 PM
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"Photorealist" sculpture

Thanks for this link to Ron Muecks’ work. Saatchi art has been much in the news over the last couple of years, but I had missed this. Except for presenting nudes (clearly a strong variance), this work is in the vein of Duane Hanson. Here’s a pointer to Hanson’s work: http://museum.oglethorpe.edu/Hanson.htm

Jeff Koons also has made some polyester figures cast from life and given natural color.

I believe it is implicit in your comment that sculpture requires interpretation by the viewer. In fact, one could say with a degree of legitimacy that sculpture consists of a spatial communion between artist and viewer. In a sense, a sculpture is different for each viewer, and even different for the same viewer over time. Remember the Zen assertion “One can’t step into the same river once.”

In the spirit of artist - viewer exclusivity, I’m not sure what you mean by “Is the theatrical nature of Ron Muecks work ....... anything different to the inner life depicted by Rodin?” I find Rodin theatrical to a somewhat excessive degree, but admire him greatly for restoring vitality to sculpture more or less not seen since Michelangelo.

I dislike making remarks on works or artists I have not seen in person, but will go so far as to say, with regard to the pieces in your link, that they appear to me dead, in the sense that they seem to depict the individuals as objects rather than as persons with inner spirit. Given that these figures or figure fragments are lifesize and therefore would assume personlike quality when encountered, my reaction to seeing them in person cannot be predicted.
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  #31  
Old 04-26-2003, 12:49 AM
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Without having actually seen Mueck's work in person either, I would say his work done in a radically different scale than "real" life is much stronger than that which is "life-size." For instance, the large head which I believe is a coulple feet across, can take on the effect of an absurdist object, forcing the viewer to confront the disconnect between scale and perception. Work done perfectly in scale with the figure comes off like a waxwork reproduction. Perhaps this points to a more general observation about figurative sculpture.

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  #32  
Old 04-26-2003, 03:05 AM
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Re: "Photorealist" sculpture

Quote:
Originally posted by fritchie
with regard to the pieces in your link, that they appear to me dead, in the sense that they seem to depict the individuals as objects rather than as persons with inner spirit. Given that these figures or figure fragments are lifesize and therefore would assume personlike quality when encountered, my reaction to seeing them in person cannot be predicted.
That's an interesting view. Funnily enough close to my own view until seeing his show here in Sydney this year. I found the work to be all about the inner life of the figures - which came across very strongely.
They ranged from say 1/10 to 10/1 scale, with none close enough to confuse with an actual person - but so real as to confuse in other ways.

My comment/question re Rodin was somewhat flipant. My apologies. I was actually putting the boot in, as I'm generally suspicious of the overt drama (read device) depicted by Rodin.



And as for David - enough said LMAO!
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  #33  
Old 04-26-2003, 10:35 AM
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as far as i can see this guy is a modern master. notice the scale in this photo.
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  #34  
Old 04-27-2003, 12:09 AM
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Figurative sculpture dead?

No apology is needed re Rodin. I agree that he is overly theatrical, but I do find him very strong with individual figures. I’m curious about your earlier comment (RH) “I don't believe figurative sculpture is dead, but what it has left to say, can only well be said in the private, personal act of the individual viewer and the work.” Are you saying that figurative sculpture plays the role of a book, which holds a one-on-one relationship between author and reader, in contrast with theater or cinema, where the work is broadcast on the waves, so to speak? In other words, that there is no public role for figurative sculpture?
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  #35  
Old 04-27-2003, 07:25 AM
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Re: Figurative sculpture dead?

Quote:
Originally posted by fritchie
In other words, that there is no public role for figurative sculpture?
Ough oh... I nearly didn't enter this discussion!

That's not what I meant, though I can see your rational. I do think there is a public role for figurative sculpture, as there is for all art.

What I sheepishly tried to say is this: The shock (both of the new and of recognition) in figurative sculpture is largely explored, used and abused. If it can confront and confound, it does so on a more personal level, as the viewer will already likely have a broad memory of figurative sculpture for reference.
This is naturally true for all sculpture, but to a lesser extent in the abstract.

I don't see this as a bad thing, and don't believe it to diminish the figurative.

Ever more real depiction, ever more dramatic and polemic content, ever more florid guesture, ever greater scale. Enough!


Just my off hand thoughts.
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  #36  
Old 04-27-2003, 11:56 AM
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Place of the Figure

“The shock (both of the new and of recognition) in figurative sculpture is largely explored, used and abused. If it can confront and confound, it does so on a more personal level, as the viewer will already likely have a broad memory of figurative sculpture for reference. This is naturally true for all sculpture, but to a lesser extent in the abstract.” - RH

Thanks for this elaboration of your ideas. (And I appreciate the humor in the last line of your post!) That post gve me a lot of thought last night and I tried to recall the largest public commissions in the U. S. over the alst couple of decades.

At least two of the biggest are in Washington - the Vietnam Memorial and the FDR (President Franklin Roosevelt) Memorial. Both of these combine abstract and figurative elements, though the former was abstract at first, until the public at large found its voice and figurative elements were added. So much for the guidance of “art experts” in setting the agenda of public art. [In truth, I like nonrepresentational sculpture every bit as much as figurative, but in a different way. I greatly admired Maya Lin’s design for the Vietnam Memorial from the beginning, and she has been vindicated over time by the public’s genuine love for it today.]

Figurative sculptors have a habit of complaining that the public doesn’t receive this type of art as vigorously as it did a century or millennium or couple of millennia ago. Clearly, as this is my preferred mode, I ask similar questions, why? I decided as I worked over the first few years, that my work was relatively personal, and required personal, gentle spaces. As this is restrictive, I have tried to find ways of generating work more suitable for larger space. I think I am succeeding, but there are figurative places I clearly don’t want to enter.

It seems to me that the figure today largely is reserved for memorials or for genre work, both of which have become more or less fixed, “dead” in the words of many commentators here. An individual artist, sufficiently endowed, can bring fresh life to these forms, and I admire these people as much as workers in any other sculptural mode. However, these forms are not for me, as a personal choice. I prefer to focus on the figure as individual, possibly abstracted or “depersonalized” to a degree in order to give it wider audience. This concept, the figure as individual, is the basis for my statement elsewhere on this forum, that all of contemporary life is present in the figure, “(feminist, Blackness, .......)”. It really is all there, for an artist with sufficient vision to see it.
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  #37  
Old 04-28-2003, 03:17 AM
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There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.
-Henri Matisse

[substitute "figure" for "rose" and "sculptor" for "painter"]
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  #38  
Old 05-24-2003, 11:26 AM
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I think the problem most contemporary figurative sculptors(and conceptual artists, as well) encounter is the inability to extend their efforts beyond being merely literal illustrations of some idea or theme. The plastic arts, whether figurative or otherwise, depend on deeper, more musical means to communicate their intent. Most American figurative sculptors and painters have had little or no contact with real academic training and instead relied on such psuedo-academic resources such as the works of Robert Beverly Hale, the pedantic criticisms of Thomas Wolfe, or schools such as the New York Academy. Anatomy and all the other elementary art school staples have their place, but their importance and proper use have been corrupted by these self important pedants claiming to hold the keys to the "lost secrects of the old masters." It doesn't matter if their subjects are figures or not, sculptors should focus on trying to make good SCULPTURE. As long as "figurative" sculptors forget this, the future of figurative sculture will never shine as brightly as its' past.
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  #39  
Old 05-24-2003, 11:33 AM
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Re-reading through this topic. More thoughts come to mind. "Gesture is everything" in the words of my drawing teacher Michael McGuire at the Valdez Art center here in Santa Fe. If you don't capture gesture in the first stroke of the pencil. Start a new page. I think why so much figurative art appears dead (today and yesterday) is that gesture is completely absent and one is left staring at a frigid work. No lyrics. No musical inclination whatsoever and yes, those works are completely dead. The competition's not all that big after all. Remember there are thousands of accountants in this world but only a few of them are brilliant. The same is true of artists. Victoria Varle www.nice-touch.com
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  #40  
Old 05-24-2003, 12:59 PM
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Hello RedRajah, You wrote; hello victoria,
perhaps with a bit of time and practice you will come to discover that there is gesture everywhere, even in the "stiff and dead"...

Is this why the war in Ireland has raged on for so many centuries LOL. How condescending of you. Perhaps when I turn 63 in September I will have time to practice?? Yes there is gesture everywhere even in a sterile stick figure. I was referring to lyrical gesture, I guess. One can capture gesture with one stroke of the pencil (or sculpture, a "mere" torso. However flail the arms and legs all you like in an attempt to capture gesture but if that central first stroke fails, gesture has not been captured.

I don't think it matters how forgiving material is today or how inflexible marble proved to be for old "masters." Remove the arms, legs and head from most and tell me what "gesture" was captured. Really captured.
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  #41  
Old 05-24-2003, 02:52 PM
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Hey from Texas! About figurative sculpture...there are all kinds of figurework to consider. To me, classical is not reaching a lot of us in America because we are soo UnEuropean. In our unique country which has been influenced by a diverse mix of cultures and the Native Americans we displaced, things are different- attitudes are different. I used to LOVE classical figurative art until I studied under Paul Kittelson(UH) for a few years. Always that WORD-CONCEPTUAL!! Trying to take an old thought and bring it to our generation, on our terms. Sounds so simple, but for some of us it is something to work towards...a state of awareness. No I do not think figurative art is dead conceptually. My personal favorite is a Polish artist, Magdalena Abakanowich who I first came to know of from the Sculpture Magazine. I think we love the figure because it is who we are. It is our history, our future. With life experiences, age, and a true freedom of expression,which is actually a freedom from trying to impress our teachers or peers- we may be able to tap into some invisible current of energy that takes us a step further in an abstraction of figure & thought. Remain open.
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  #42  
Old 05-25-2003, 03:35 AM
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Ok. I think what I want to say is this: Art that works is progressive. Strictly formal figurative art, that pays no attention to context or conceptual dialogue is regressive--historically speaking. Now, if I made a bronze scupture of a dog that was representational in every way, would that not be just as simple (negatively speaking) as a human figure in the same vain? It comes down to artists ability to have something to say besides, "this is what a human body looks like". Even with Kiki Smith, her work is hyper representational, and clinical, but it is pushed to a level where she is talking about the disconnection between the temporal body itself and a sense of the ethereal. Gormley is most interesting to me when he deals with implication of the human body. The negative cavities inside his concrete and lead castings where there are holes for finger tips and mouths. He is figurative, but he is talking about the space inside as opposed to the space around the human body. I can see classical post-modern figurative references as progressive because they can be used to appropriate historical elements of the genre. Push it somewhere. Say something. ?
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  #43  
Old 05-25-2003, 09:58 AM
aaron p. hussey aaron p. hussey is offline
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jarrod,

It seems you have started something. I am interested in the figure and have been doing public pieces, as well as my personal studio work, and I often think about the craft or executed level of my work. Some of these commissions are not the most creative, thought provoking things I have done, because limitations are set by the clients. This is the bread and butter for my studio to continue and hopefully grow. I think I craft a solid representaion that captures the personality and that is what give me satisfaction with no intension of comparing myself to the likes of the old masters.
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  #44  
Old 05-25-2003, 04:55 PM
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Figuratively Speaking & Computers

Welcome jmenna - I see from your profile and website that you work with (among others) Johnson Atelier, near the ISC’s Figuratively Speaking conference this summer, and I like the entry page in your website. If I may, I’d like to ask you to comment on your experience with 3D modeling, especially figurative, in the new thread on “Sculpture and Computers”. Thanks,
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  #45  
Old 05-25-2003, 09:11 PM
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I am in a frantic frame of mind. I have entered the 9/11 memorial sculpture competition. What a project that is going to be for somebody. I always leave everything until the last minute. Apparently that is when my best work is done. Wish the frantic frame of mind would improve though.
Does anyone else in this group get beside themselves with angst prior to submissions or even whilst dreaming up a creation with a deadline to beat?
I've been called a perfectionist by many. I don't think it is a compliment really as someone once said "perfectionists take great pains and give them to everyone else." ha ha ha.
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  #46  
Old 05-25-2003, 10:57 PM
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Sculptural poesy

slintfan, Brad - Your post is poetic and requires a poetic answer. Thomas Jefferson in our own Declaration of Independence posed a paradox “We hold these truths to be self evident - That all men (read persons) are created equal .....”. Clearly his words are false on the surface, as people vary mightily in bodily capacity and in access to the world’s means.

However, we are created equal in spirit and we should have equal call on the world’s spiritual source. Each of us need watch synoptically both the stars and our own feet. As sculptors, our hands deserve a glance as well.


It is the duty of each person to make best use of himself or herself and, yes, this means staying awake and meaning what we do.

Please continue.

Last edited by fritchie : 05-26-2003 at 07:28 AM.
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  #47  
Old 05-26-2003, 10:06 PM
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Hello Fritchie, You wrote;
However, we are created equal in spirit and we should have equal call on the world’s spiritual source.

I don't think you are right. I know some really mean spirited people while others appear to be totally pure. Anyhow I grow rather impatient with reminders that one must make allowances for others or that we should embrace each other, albeit spiritually, as equals. Some spirits are always "more equal" than others.

I think all we can do is hope the spirit we each inherited will be well received by the world at large and even appreciated through the art we each project, the rest? they may even get to capture the gesture of my middle finger from time to time etc.. Cheers.
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Old 05-27-2003, 03:51 PM
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Hello Victoria, and others; I think Fritchie was talking about tapping into a spiritual source. This talk and direction of thought is getting pretty esoteric...I have so many thoughts on this, that it is hard to stay simple and concise. Remember that this was supposed to be related to figurative art? There comes a time in the creation of any art work, when the artist goes off into a zone of thought and energy/ and the piece can begin to take on a life of its own...totally diff. from what was initially planned. For me personally, I believe in the Jungian philosophy of the evolution of the mind and the possibility that Memories come to us from the past. This belief came about NOT through reading a book, but many, from searching throughout my lifetime to understand what my more bizarre dreams meant..how could thoughts come to my mind in the Dreamtime, when as a sheltered teen, I had never read or viewed any of these symbols(or subject matter). My artwork in scrap metal almost always has an ancient feeling to it. Sometimes I add bones. Our life experiences give the depth to our work, a place to go when seeking answers..an intuitive place. This is not easy to explain/ but learning to meditate and close out all sounds of the materisl world is a good place to start.
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  #49  
Old 05-27-2003, 08:25 PM
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Figurative Sculptor...I'd like to think I'm not beating a dead subject!

I am still very interested in expressing my view of life through the use of the human figure. I have never felt the human figure is dead as a source of inspiration. I do agree with the notion that sculptors should learn rules of portraying the human body before breaking the rules by abstraction. The possibilities of the human experience are endless!
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Old 05-27-2003, 09:16 PM
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More on poesy

From Victoria - Hello Fritchie, You wrote;
However, we are created equal in spirit and we should have equal call on the world’s spiritual source.

I don't think you are right. I know some ...


I’m dealing with Thomas Jefferson here, who also was being poetic when he wrote the words above. I’m just trying to make sense of the disconnect between those words and the way the world really seems.

One of the things I was trying to say in that post (the essence of poetry being its content of symbolism and multiple layers of meaning) is that things are very unequal in the existing world, and we all should try to make the best of it - to do our honest best in whatever we do.
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