The best display of figural sculpture.
I've read about people who have had moments that they described as profound, even spiritual when looking at some work of art. I always viewed such claims with suspicion until my turn came, and it happend at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. For me it wasn't a single piece, but the sum total of an experience. The museum building is neo-classical, and spectacularly sited on a hill. You have to pass between two magnificent equestrian statues to enter. What moved me was the display from their permanent collection (this was two years ago). They have a large collection of Rodin bronzes, and in the gallery where they are displayed it is nothing less than breathtaking. You move through these spaces lit from above with skylights, detailed in the classical style which is sympathetic to sculpture, with figure after figure that seems to possess a spirit. It impressed me deeply. You know the cliche about how sculpture is the thing you back into while looking at a painting? The Legion is the first museum I've ever been in that didn't give me that feeling. (I should admit that I am primarily familiar with the museums in the Northeast USA). The architecture of the Legion complements the bronzes and each play off one another to create a remarkable setting.
Has anyone else had a moving experience of sculpture somewhere? Does anyone think there is another modern musuem in North America that has the right combination of architecture and sculpture to bring one to tears?
My most moving experience with sculpture actually consists of two moments, both involving Michelangelo. I had the privilege of spending a year in Europe (Scotland) about forty-five years ago, as a twenty-two and -three year old, on a Federal scholarship, and was able to take the “grand tour” of western and southern Europe the latter summer. Bear in mind, this was before television was at all common, and it was my first visit outside of Louisiana and the American southeast in general.
I saw for the first time extensive collections of the world’s best art in New York, London, Paris, other European capitals, and so on, but it was in little Florence, and about a week later in Rome, in the small museum of St. John Lateran, that I was moved the most. In Florence, at the Academia (sp?) by Michelangelo’s David, and in Rome, by his Moses.
Forget Pieta and the others - they’re fine but in my mind don’t compare with these two. In both these pieces, I found the energy level so high, I literally saw lightning flashing from the eyes. David, of course is nude and as well conceived as any figure in existence. Moses, in contrast, is fully clothed. But both contained, as I saw them, a spark of life such as I rarely have seen in any sculpture.
Re: The best display of figural sculpture.
I would have to say the public library system.
One of the advantages of living in a large metropolitan area is the museums availible to me. (Tacoma WA USA) But I have been trapped in very remote locations by geography and disability for decades at a time. Yes a personal experience of viewing sculpture in person can be breathtaking. But the great works will find there audience mostly through print and digital media.
I have prints of Rodin sculptures all over my apartment. And was lucky enough to attend an exhibition in person. But for my inspiration I turn to Michelangelo as an example of communicative motivation in almost manic moments captured, expressed, and observable by the general public. Almost manic, this is key, I have learned as a medically mannaged manic-depressive person. Moments of intensity lived by all, but few are at home in them at all times.
Re: The best display of figural sculpture.
Fritchie I am gratefull for your input above, and honest feelings on Michelangelo's works. I am glad you had the chance to see them in person.
It just so happens tonight I was planning and indeed did watch the 1989 documentary, Michelangelo: Self Portrait
This is on DVD along with Robert Snyder's 1950's documentary The Titan about the same man. So I thought I would mention this DVD is available via
www.netflix.com rental service. Excellent service by the way.
I will be returning this copy in the mail tomorrow. My knowledge of the sculpture is quite limited as my knowledge is shallow on most subjects. I was fortunate enough to find a hard back edition of "Essential MICHELANGELO" by Kirsten Bradbury, on clearence at my local Barnes and Knoble when I had gone there for the simular purpose. Pure luck... well maybe a little diligence.
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