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evaldart 06-27-2012 11:59 AM

I have been approached to interpret a life-size Noah, in steel. As I make my way through the initial conceptualizing (because ALL art is conceptual art) by imagining the gesture as it might be seasoned by the bible story. Job or Moses or St Sebastian seem to fly off the fingers where stances and bodily manifestations are concerned. And the props...there's nothing like a good staff, or weapon or clothing to wrench the compositional opportunities. But I must say, I am at a bit of a loss with ol' Noah (and I really think this has to happen with no reference to animals or and ark). How would Noah, sit, stand, walk converse (with God?) or embrace, etc? So I appeal to you folks here, whose commentary I value above all eggheads and regulars, to hash this out a bit.
I will post my progress in the usual preliminary form of rough sketches - which I am fully aware usually only suffice to tell me what NOT to do.

Thank you all in advance.

GlennT 06-27-2012 12:22 PM

Re: Noah.
Consider that Noah was a humble person but righteous and full of faith, believing in the word of God while subject to the ridicule and scorn of his neighbors. It would be important to determine whether to depict him at that stage of his life, or at ark-loading time, or after the rain had fallen, when he could have had an, "Aha, suckers!" moment but for a pre-occupation with how to clean up several hundred tons of animal poop from the poop of the sloop.

rika 06-27-2012 12:40 PM

Re: Noah.
Wow, what a project! Congrats! I imagine him as an average person, who was given an enourmous task that almost crushes him, but he knows he HAS to complete his task or there is no future. He's a reluctant hero. I would imagine that he does a lot of thinking on the how to accomplish his "job", so I see his stance to be that of a standing "Thinker".

evaldart 06-27-2012 12:42 PM

Re: Noah.
Thanks Glenn...yes identifying WHICH Noah (because everyone is someones else depending upon the condition-at-hand). The RAIN indeed. The flood, the torrents, the crappy weather, the tossing and turning...there is determination, withstanding, wherewithal an assured defiance and perhaps a wincing confidence (in the face of it all). Now were getting somewhere.

I should also mention that a facial expression will not be a huge factor...but perhaps a beard and longish hair is in order because steel, as Scrap showed us, can make for some good surface mass by its ability to extend out from its bodily core.

racine 06-27-2012 02:04 PM

Re: Noah.
'noah' was a biblical rip-off from the babylonian bronze age gilgamesh epic where he was called utnapishtu, great beards the sumerians.
.. however i like the english version as seen in chaucers' millers' there is a red hot inspiration.

Mack 06-27-2012 02:17 PM

Re: Noah.
"Staff" in hand is good. Solitary figure standing, head raised, eyes to the heavens, expression something like: "...Say What ???"

evaldart 06-27-2012 02:37 PM

Re: Noah.
Thankd Racine...yes, it all goes back to Gilgamesh, doesnt it. The original epic that created the profession of the "scribe"; a class of documenters...sedentary and soft yet thoughtful, fastidious and busy, noodling endlessly over tableture; interpreting everything for everyone.

(Damned, now I wanna do the scribe instead of Noah. )

Must be careful not to end up with a robed captain Ahab...wrong sculpture.

fritchie 06-27-2012 04:04 PM

Re: Noah.
My first thought was similar to Rika's. A thinking figure, puzzled expression of some sort, but clearly not Rodin - too sedentary. Those middle - Easterners were classically pretty thin, regardless of the energy needed for this task. Remember Jehovah or whatever his name could do anything with anyone who was willing.

Don't need water, but possibly a reference of some sort if you like, maybe a fish or other watery creature at his feet. I don't see rocks either, just a standing figure, and probably looking up, not down. On the other hand, looking up should reflect surprise. Looking down classically is puzzlement or doubt. That would be OK too, but I like surprise better.

Sounds like a great opportunity. Congratulations.

Kilkenny 06-27-2012 06:04 PM

Re: Noah.
Must go back and re-read the text before I comment at all seriously.

My first reaction, though, is that I don't want to see another Biblical figure with a long flowing beard. Visually it's too hackneyed. I'd say try to update it. Find something in Noah to fix him as a relevant figure, and reinvent the artistic vocabulary with it, if possible.

My favourite Christ is the Christ of the Turin Shroud. Unlike the elegant, bearded holy man of western myth, in the shroud we get a rugged, hard man, perhaps what a Christ would have to be to survive the lifestyle. This is powerful, and doesn't pander to historical cliche.

Maybe also research what the characteristics of such a man would have been in the period - actual dress; racial characteristics; how he would have lived, etc. I could imagine him as a massive figure, given what he does - a big strong giant of a labourer. Hard work making boats.... But he could be portrayed as a 'problem solver' - a technician. A man of the mind. I also like the idea of demythologising him: make him REAL.

Facial expression: don't pander to fundamentalist notions of divine inspiration.
I like the facial expression of the Madonna on lots of Renaissance sculpture and painting - of someone who feels she is in over her depth! Someone who has just lost her actual life for one never requested, a figure with a kind of fore-knowledge of what is to happen - a troubled reflective figure.

Just a few thoughts...

evaldart 06-28-2012 09:00 AM

Re: Noah.
I have always urged "tone" and forsaken narrative as much as possible when it comes to representational works. So I am definitely going in the direction of sparse and reduced - and, in keeping with the nature of the medium - scrap and junk and forged steel bars - there will be visual tendencies to avail that are simply NOT options for the conceiving of the thing from a "clay" point of view. As in portraiture, it is not necessarily relevant that there be a like-ness, nor is it even necessarily relevant that the image "say" anything about its subject; but what IS relevant is that laborious thought and observation of and over the "problem" of the subject was internalized severely enough to launch a dynamic exchange between the tangibles and palpable and the (sufficiently motivated and fortified) will. It will be Noah better by imagining "how" such an individual might be, rather that "what" or "who".
Thanks for your ideas...there will be pencil marks real soon...the stew is starting to bubble:D

chris 71 06-28-2012 10:27 AM

Re: Noah.
i know you will do a great job matt however you aproach it. as im sure you will be properly propelled with intensity :D

made think/wonder if something like this could be done kinda backwards/upsidedown, truly different and unquie. the guy in the sky having a big role. a manifestation of the one in charge. like a puppet master from above. or even not soo much puppet master, but commanding the undertaking. boiling clouds, rolling thunder, lighting. so many things could be used.

GlennT 06-28-2012 10:43 AM

Re: Noah.
Or, from the theater of the absurd, a heroic-scaled wind-up music box with Noah rotating on top, the music being, "Row, row, row your boat..."

rika 06-28-2012 10:52 AM

Re: Noah.

Originally Posted by chris 71 (Post 102962)
the guy in the sky having a big role. a manifestation of the one in charge. like a puppet master from above. or even not soo much puppet master, but commanding the undertaking. boiling clouds, rolling thunder, lighting. so many things could be used.

Hm, I see the "guy in the sky" (nice one, Chris) having a minimal role. It's the humble guy with twenty feet on the ground taking on the job of gods, rolling up his sleeves, putting on his working boots, and get dirty and sweaty...kinda like a labourer (and sculptor?). ;) But then again, I think I may have made the female version of Noah, just called her something else. Interesting.

evaldart 06-28-2012 11:25 AM

Re: Noah.
Right, I dont suppose that names, historical context, GENDER matters either. How would Giacometti have made Noah?...but perhaps he did, he just called it something else.

Mack 06-28-2012 11:57 AM

Re: Noah.
Yes, I think that whatever form you decide on, when you put the title
"Noah" on it, the viewer is challenged to discover what aspect of the myth you are presenting , limited by his / her knowledge and interpretation of the story.

Kilkenny 06-28-2012 03:53 PM

Re: Noah.

Originally Posted by Mack (Post 102966)
...the viewer is challenged to discover what aspect of the myth you are presenting , limited by his / her knowledge and interpretation of the story.

This sounds a bit too much like subservience to the myth. In any case, the story as it would have been written originally would have had a freshness that myth coming down to us does not. Rika is right - cut through that to something that we all have in common and that might connect us to Noah. As myth, the story of Noah has been ossified. It's a dead narrative to the majority of people these days who cannot relate to this kind of thing. Is the sculpture going to be only for religious people? If not, how will you escape the dead hand of tradition?:o

By the way, I suspect that most viewers will not bring an 'interpretation' of the story to the sculpture. You may have to do the interpreting yourself for an audience quite numbed to the figure.

Mack 06-28-2012 04:33 PM

Re: Noah.
If the figure is going to be somewhat representational; I mean it looks like a guy...but say without the beard, flowing robes etc.(nothing wrong with "flowing robes" though )...but say it doesn't remind you of Charleton Heston right off i.e., then the gesture of the figure: head up, head down, arms out etc. will signal what aspect of "Noah" you are representing,i.e.: head down,he's thinking about the task ahead, head up, he's getting the word from upstairs, axe or some tool in hand, he's starting to build the ark. So what I meant by "challenge the viewer" is that the title of "Noah" will place the figure, your sculpture, in some timeline of the narrative they remember: 1.-get the word, 2-build the ark, 3-get the animals, 4-sail away, and finally

Dries 06-29-2012 05:25 AM

Re: Noah.
Noah was taunted and extremely old when he build the ark. If you sculpt him as a fragile old man it would exaggerate the feat of building the ark even more. That would say that it was through the strenght of God and his faith alone that he managed to build the ark and not his own strenght. Somehow the painting of Don Quixote by Pablo Picasso come to mind.

evaldart 06-30-2012 09:33 AM

Re: Noah.
It is becomes clear to me that the most significant things to address about this Noah thing is the "The Deluge" and "After the Flood". These are, metaphorically and narratively the most potent aspects of the consideration of this tale. But these are also the aspects that are far bigger than just Noah - and the old man perhaps neednt even be included in these visualizations. So in keeping with the growing of some difficulty and a willfully departing creative urge I will be imagining the figure, old Noah, as he might be incidentally negotiating these "phases" of the occurrence. And the occurence, it seems cannot be dislocated from the bad weather in favor of the "inner individuality" of some protagonist. Actually I'll pursue the opposite. I will install the "tone" of the bad weather AS the inner being of the figure; possession of all of nature and all incidence and circumstance thusly collected into an assembly of (human body) components that preside without the necessity of a place or an event.

scrapartoz 06-30-2012 05:32 PM

Re: Noah.
Well done on getting the job Evald. Im wondering what image/ picture is in the mind of the person who ordered the "Noah". Did they tell you what they wanted or left it completely up to you?

My initial thoughts are that the finished work
must have easily recognisable cues (to Joe public) showing:

Physical effort
Faith/ persistance

He is standing in front of some planks that butt against what could be the bow of the vessel . A curved line is all you need (abstact/ outline done in 3/8" rod)

I would have him holding one of those large squarish wooden hammers they use for caulking(with rope and tar) the gaps in the planks also a plugging chisel in the other hand

In the dirt At his feet I would have a variety of animal tracks.(this could be fun)

His exposed forearms would be corded and muscular.(a la blacksmith)

An amphora? of water beside him. and some bread in a simple bowl showing the presense and support of his partner? (Has not stopped for a break)

I would have him looking very tired yet detirmined.

I would expect his garment would be raised so his lower legs were free and not tripping over a long robe. Maybe a loincloth only???

well e this might be harder than you think. scrap

evaldart 06-30-2012 05:56 PM

Re: Noah.
Thanks Scrap, the commissioner has bought my work before and is certainly only interested in how I might handle the whole thing. I never attempt to consider the range of interpretations that a general "viewing public" (or even a viewing individual) might take on my pieces, and also never ask for or receive any direction. Because I feel it might be a presumptive and disrespectful intrusion to presuppose the accommodating anyone's will. So I make it be the best it can be in regards to my own hard thought and hard is the only way a commission can be yielding. Needless to say, many collectors have other ideas about how a commission should occur.

If I am not able to conceptualize this project as a figurative singularity, reduced and alone, then I will go to the other end and involve props and "scenic" elements. I have done both in the past. I prefer, of course, the distillation rather than the extension, as the experience for me will be more concentrated and immediate (we of the shorter attention-span must placate our strengths:D).

So far I know that he will be old an bearded...and I'd rather not hide the gesture with too many robes and garmented superfloua (this aint no fashion show). The stance will have to carry the load; either of foreboding and daunt (the deluge) or of rebirth and renewal (after the flood). This is where this wants to go. Anatomy and historical context will have to submit to the greater potencies.

suburbanartists 06-30-2012 06:17 PM

Re: Noah.
dynamic in the raging storm
quiet on the beach

evaldart 06-30-2012 07:49 PM

Re: Noah.

Originally Posted by suburbanartists (Post 102998)
dynamic in the raging storm
quiet on the beach

Yep Sub. Thats pretty much it.

obseq 06-30-2012 09:28 PM

Re: Noah.

Originally Posted by evaldart (Post 102997)
So far I know that he will be old an bearded...and I'd rather not hide the gesture with too many robes and garmented superfloua (this aint no fashion show)

OR a robe-like beard-- One that nearly anchors both form-and-gaze alike to the ground in the face of the task at hand. :D

KatyL 07-02-2012 06:36 PM

Re: Noah.
Hey that's great! One thing about Noah is that he is a kind of rosetta stone of myth. I believe that at least 30 different civilizations have various versions of the Noah and the arc tale making it a world wide phenomena of punishment and redemption between maker and man. I feel with Noah one could push the boundaries in all sorts of directions. Good luck with this.

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