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JasonGillespie 03-21-2006 09:54 PM

Is bodycasting really art?
Recently, as a result of my graduate studies, I have become interested in what other sculptors think in regard to the technique of bodycasting. My main interest, and the reason I am attending NYAA, is to develop my understanding and ability to render the human form to a high level...with my reference point being reality.....and expressly to do it with my own skills and talent. That puts me at the opposite end of the spectrum from this technique and firmly in the camp of bodycasting not rising to the level of Art. (Well, maybe art with a lowercase "a".)

That being said, I will say that there are some sculptors that use bodycasting as a preliminary to a further process and I wouldn't consider them as true bodycasting sculptors. The best example that comes to mind of this type of sculptor would be Antony Gormley. His work does not bear the image of the person being cast rather it is a rough framework for him to build upon and manipulate. His figures are worked beyond this technique and have meaning in their own right as a result. ( To see what I am refering to go to )

Those who follow in the footsteps of the grandfather of bodycasting, George Segal, however, are, in my opinion, creating something, but it isn't Art. Their work is dependent upon the likeness drawn from the bodycast to give their work legitimacy. Herein is the problem I have. The likeness has nothing to do with their ability or skill. How they may compose or patinate the figures is the extent of their artistic effort. This in and of itself, I think, does not rise to the level of sculpture or art. A very good example of this type of sculptor is Marc Quinn with his "sculpture" of Alison Lapper in Trafalgar Square. Not only did he rely upon a bodycast of his subject as the positive for his work, he then had other artisans transfer and carve it in marble. You can go to to see the above mentioned work.

I am interested in hearing what other sculptors, figurative and non-figurative might think about this and why. By all means try and convince me otherwise if you are in favor of bodycasting. I by no means have a comprehensive understanding of the subject.

A point, my interest is in a dialogue not a brawl. Please keep posts on topic.

sculptor 03-21-2006 11:34 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?

is body casting really taxidermy
is masturbation really sex?
why not just phone it in?

the practice of sculpture has to do with developing the ability to see and the attendant skills in service of an aesthetic

maybe it really boils down to ones goals

'tain't fer me


daaub 03-22-2006 01:40 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
George Segal's work seems more about creating situations with the groupings of figures and environments rather than being about the figure itself. If one is just using the cast figure as a point of departure for a larger idea then the casting is just another means of getting there. One might claim that George Segal is not skilled at sculpting the figure, but is difficult to support the claim that he is not an artist.

I guess a comparison in the world of painting would be the realist painters who project photographs onto the canvas to paint. Many famous and successful artist do this. How about when they use grids or other methods to assist them in drawing? What about when an artist looks at a photo of a figure instead of sculpting or painting from a live model? Is it still art when an artist only makes a small model and has a foundry sculp the larger size ect.. If you take a stance on the use of aids in art, the question is where.

I believe the idea holds importance over the method. This all relates to the thread on tallent vs hard work. Skill vs creativity. ...

fritchie 03-22-2006 08:14 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
This is a very large topic, and unfortunately it's caught me still in the process of running back and forth some 75 miles between my Katrina - flood battered home in New Orleans and a temporary location further north. I'll have to get back with more cogent thoughts, but here is my first reaction:

Art is an expression of emotion and intellect, abstracted beyond the moment. That is true in sculpture, painting, music, writing - in any art form. Specifically in sculpture, I think bodycasting can be art, depending on its truth to my initial statement.

You've overlooked Duane Hanson, whose works are much closer to "taxidery" than George Segal's. And, yes, I accept Duane Hanson as a substantial artist.

JasonGillespie 03-22-2006 12:24 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
I realize that this topic seemingly presents a lot of "grey" area and would be willing to make George Segal fall on the other side of the line because of his texturization and excellent use of the figures to create meaningful compositions...and..... mostly because he did it first as a mode of expression that was meant to stand on its own merits. We could give him the pass of "first use", much as Jackson Pollock would have for his spatterings or Marcel Duchamp for his satirical use of found objects. As I said in my first post, I really look to those that follow in Segal's footsteps as the "sculptors" that have much to answer for.

As to the analogy of doesn't really work. Painters, even those that project and trace from photos (another habit I am not thrilled with) must then use a great amount of skill to make those drawings become paintings. That calls for a great deal of artistic ability(perhaps not draftsmanship).....knowledge of color, how to use the paints in an illusionistic way, isn't in any way the same as bodycasting. And grids are only a tool for enlargement and don't replace any skill whatsoever. This isn't about using artistic is about the replacement of skill and ability with a technique that virtually anyone can do and end up with an almost finished piece of "sculpture". Dare I say that bodycasting would be an artistic "crutch"?

Yes, this is related to talent and hardwork. In my post in the thread on that subject I opted for talent. The greatest artists used their talents to create what they did. The greatest artists didn't use the camera obscura, they didn't point from a real person. Michelangelo, Leonardo, Raphael, Rubens, Bernini, Rembrandt....none of them did anything other than rely on the gifts/skills they had. While they may have used limited aids, they did not replace talent/skill with techniques that made those abilities unnecessary. (Despite the wildly erroneous generalizations Hockney might have made..poor deluded man...he never understood some people just have great talents...and hardwork made them even greater:()

Rodin himself was accused of bodycasting when he showed the "Age of Bronze" because there were sculptors back then that would use bodycasting in the creation of their work.....but the difference was at that time it was considered to be a mark of a hack. Someone who couldn't do themselves what was needed to be considered a sculptor. That this accusation was leveled was a mark of Rodin's great ability to render, not the lack thereof which now days is most often the case. I don't agree that your intention or idea is more important than your abiliy to execute that idea in an artistic way. It is a balance of ability and creativity that makes an artist and art. But then I do not consider all expression art. This is a philosophical convention that has occured since the 19th century. "Art" that anyone one can do is not by my definition Art. It has become something else and though it has some elements/characteristics of art, it does not rise to that level.


No, I have not overlooked our friend Duane. He is an interesting subject no doubt and one that has succeeded on novelty. (Sadly, more have followed in his footsteps) Many consider it sculpture, but I would say no. It lacks those elements that put it in what I would call the tradition of sculpture. His painting and dressing of the forms in a pseudo-lifelike way is akin to dressing a manikin...regardless of the "statement" he might be making. But you see, merely putting three dimensional objects in a space in my mind does not in and of itself constitue sculpture or art. This is a symptom of a much larger degradation and devaluation of what is special about art and those who create it. (I am not espousing elitisim though, just ability.) This is my opinion, however. I realize that most operate under a contemporary view/philosophy as is usual for those that subscribe to whatever the norm is. I prefer a macro view/philosophy that puts our overly self-important artistic period in proper perspective with all the other artistic periods.

Strange is it not that artists have striven to evolve artistically/technically/skillfully since the beginning of recorded history, at least in relation to their society and culture's needs, and we are now the first to devolve artistically/technically/skillfully in the interest of making art something anyone can do? (A case can be made that the middle ages do not fit into the former paradigm, but one only has to look at the evolution of Romanesque and Gothic architecture as well as the redevelopment of sculpture in the process to discount that argument.) Another argument would be that our current enlightened state enable us to see that art isn't just the ability to render or skillfully manipulate a medium...rather it is the expression of heartfelt ideas that transcends ability. Well, I may be simple, but I want my mechanic to be skilled in his profession as do I want the doctor I go to be proficient in his craft....why then do I drop my expectations of learning and ability and.....that rarer gift, talent, when I look to the artist? Perhaps it is egalitarianism run has made many who should not be artists....and bodycasting is only one cause.

oddist 03-22-2006 01:59 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?

I would love to have the opportunity to study as you are...unfortunately, I have to struggle on my own...but I too like the inturpretation of the "hands on" approach to sculpting.

I wonder though, the "pointingmachine" used long, long ago, and still today, to transfer a model to stone or other medium..isn't this just "connecting the dots?" The model could be a hand built clay or plaster---or a live model, if able to stand still long enough.

Couldn't body casting just be considered a product of technical advancement in materials allowing for rapid reproduction of a subject. Casts of anything can be made and turned into something called "ART." For example, Rachel Whiteread's works.

Just some thoughts...

JasonGillespie 03-22-2006 03:43 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Your struggle is no different from my own. I had to work myself up to this point on my own. My undergraduate degree is in commercial art. In the end we are responsible for our education. School just makes certain ideas and concepts readily available that wouldn't be as easy to find. Still, the knowledge they are sharing is not gnostic. It is out there for anyone who would like to find it. The instructors do make a huge difference and I can't deny that, but they can not make me into the sculptor I want to become. That is my job and ultimately rests on me. Don't underestimate your ability to self-teach though.

The pointing machine is ideally for transfering information from an already fully conceived work to another medium or size. It doesn't or shouldn't remove the responsibility from the artist for having to have the skill/talent to create the work in the first place that is to be transfered. Could it be abused and used on people? I suppose it could, I suppose it has, but none of the great sculptors ever did and that is enough for me.

A good historical example is Carpeaux having his Ungolino transfered to marble. His plaster, which was also used for a bronze version, was pointed into a marble version that Italian artisans carved from those specifications...point by point. This scuplture was already fully realized though. The pointing was a means of transfering and nothing more. There is no detraction from Carpeaux's great talent in using it as a means of reproduction. The artisans' could not have carved the work they did without his plaster. The art resides in the original. Does it make the marble less valuable since he did not do it me, yes, definitely. That is in contrast to Michelangelo who was a stonecarver and had no need to point. Carpeaux,however, was a modeler and wouldn't have had the skill to turn out a marble version. At the academy we have many casts some of Michelangelo's works, most from Greek and Roman sculptures. These are from the originals and full sized. They aren't the actual works, but that fact does not change that they are exact duplicates of a fully realized work. It is the same with Carpeaux's marble Ungolino and the process of pointing....when properly used.

A technical advancement, in art, is meant to make creating that art easier...not take the place of ability. (I think) When you remove the ability of the artist fom the equation and have a technique that anyone that can read an instructional manual can do it stops being art. Then it becomes...perhaps a craft. I'm not sure. But I don't think of art as being trivial enough to be done by anyone willing to take the time to take a cast from a body. Just as I wouldn't assume to tell someone I am a great singer merely becuase I can force air through my throat and produce sound. There needs to be a line of demarcation so we don't wholly devalue art as an idea as well as a reality.

oddist 03-22-2006 04:42 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?

Oh, I don't underestimate the ability to self-teach...I just don't have the time. And that's my problem to deal with.

So, if pointing is an easy way of transferring information from an already conceived work to another medium, does "laser" scanning fall into the same category? I suppose so..

And isn't a living thing an already conceived work? ;)

Maybe the needs of the artist should be taken into consideration. One might not need the satisfaction of direct, hands-on work...The end result maybe of greater creative importance to an individual...

There also may be the need for "immediate" results on the part of some..After all, we do live in an impatient, results oriented, striving for success society..

JasonGillespie 03-22-2006 09:52 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Yes, time is a bear. May you find more time to work and learn.

You know the needs of an individual might lead them to sidestep the process of actually sculpting the figure, but in my mind that then removes them from being considered a sculptor.

We don't consider photographers to be painters, but if we use the logic you suggest, the photographer could be a painter that just doesn't want to perform the "hands on" aspect of painting. But in the reality of our world their need for immediate satisfaction removes them from being considered a painter because they do not want to learn the process of painting. Instead of rendering an image themselves, they use a technique, (photography), to create the image for them. This is no different than bodycasting. Bodycasting is a technique which alleviates the "sculptor" from having to do the work themselves. In the past these people would have been considered charlatans and fakes. Today we give them a pass....worse we treat them as if they had actually created something. They may have fabricated something, but that is not the same as the act of creation.

The painting/photography example is an imperfect analogy, but I hope you see my point. If the sculptor wants to create figurative works, but is unwilling to learn or perform the act that ultimately identifies them as a figurative sculptor....creating the form..sculpting...I don't see how they can then be rewarded with the title of sculptor...or their work art. Is it expression? Certainly. Art?, not to me anyway.

Also, impatience is no excuse for not doing what is necessary. Would you ever hear this?......"I'm sorry judge, I didn't have time to go to law school, but you don't mind me practicing law do you?" :D
Why this crazy double standard is accepted in the art world but no where else is baffling.

Still, your points were good ones and made me think. Thanks.

ironman 03-22-2006 10:44 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Hi, I apologize beforehand for not reading ALL of the above posts.
Whenever I visit NYC, which is at least yearly, I ALWAYS visit the MET and look at Carpaux's "Ugolino". I love that work, and the agony and feeling that it evokes. Who cares who carved it.
How about Duane Hanson, I assume his figures are body casts, but I really don't know.
But, they are definitly art, they shake up your idea of what art is and what reality is and blurr the boundry between the two. If you want to have some fun, take a friend, who isn't really into art to a show of Hanson's work (don't tell them anything beforehand) and watch their reaction. You'll get a laugh out of it.
Segal's work isn't about the figure, but about the situation that they're in and their interraction or lack thereof with their fellow man.
Have a nice day,

daaub 03-23-2006 12:40 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Conceptualism has forever changed the way we experience art. If the object is no longer necessary then neither is skill.

Hard work and exceptional skill definately makes one a great craftsman, but it is imagination that makes them an artist. Then again, without some ability they may never be able to realize the ideas. If you are willing to view the idea as the integral part of the artwork, then skill, hardwork or use of aids are just different means of expressing it. Maybe in the past the greatness of an artwork could be difined by the amount of skill and talent that went into its making, but this is no longer the case.

It all breaks down to ones larger view on what is art.

In art such as Segal's, the ability to recreate the figure by hand is not integral to the greater idea. The figures are just used to get at something much larger, and in my opinion much more interesting. Mimicking reality by hand in a slow tedious and technical process might show off a sculptors skill but it does not show off their creative genious.

I agree that it should be a balance of ability and creativity, but ability can be replaced with use of aids such as 'bodycasting' where as imagination can not.

griffin 03-23-2006 12:22 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
I would have to say that I agree with duab and fritchie on this matter.
Bodycasting can be art.
However I think there is truth in the idea that there is a devolution occurring.

I only ever wanted to render the figure and learn portraiture.
In college instead I made six foot wing nuts out of chicken wire for professors expecting such.

A quote as best as I remember it.
The tension that exists between abstraction and representation that is where art lies. -Phillip Perkins, photographer

In response to the quote
"We don't consider photographers to be painters, but if we use the logic you suggest, the photographer could be a painter that just doesn't want to perform the "hands on" aspect of painting. But in the reality of our world their need for immediate satisfaction removes them from being considered a painter because they do not want to learn the process of painting. Instead of rendering an image themselves, they use a technique, (photography), to create the image for them. This is no different than bodycasting. Bodycasting is a technique which alleviates the "sculptor" from having to do the work themselves. In the past these people would have been considered charlatans and fakes. Today we give them a pass....worse we treat them as if they had actually created something. They may have fabricated something, but that is not the same as the act of creation"

Some could argue that anything created by man in mimicry of nature is in fact all ways fabrication. I won't argue this but I will take exception to photography as some how being the easy way out. My camera has been sitting on the shelf all day and has not created a single piece of art. It must be defective. True anyone can use a camera and get reasonably good results.However, anyone can also use clay and get reasonably good results.

The body is already a work of art whether you draw it,
paint it, photograph it, sculpt it or just look at it. All of mankinds techniques
are attempts to capture that essence of being. I can't say that Segal hasn't
done that. Certainly Segals work is closer to "real"than say Michelanglo's David. Meaning that in everyday life can one see people in poses represented in Segal's work. I haven't run into many "David's". Except of course the actual statue at the Louvre. Amazing.

I can certainly understand the contention.


A challenge for fun. Perhaps several sculptors could create figures from scratch and figures from casts. Then compare for themselves. Excluding me
of course.As a photographer I'll just take a photo.

ExNihiloStudio 03-23-2006 02:11 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
The craft decisions made to implement an idea for a work of art have substantial impact on the final result. In other words, the decisions of how to make it have a direct and undeniable impact on the look, feel, and sensibility of the finished piece and it is absolutely essential to take account of this. Is body casting good? Maybe, if the decision to use body casting technique is essential to the methods necessary to fully implement and make real the concept of the work and to arrive at an ultimately satisfying solution, i.e., a good work of art. If body casting is chosen because it is the best way to fully realize the intent of the piece, then we might ask if the body casting is well done. If body casting is chosen because the limitations of the artist’s abilities are not up to the intent of the piece and hence is a less than best solution, then we’ll probably be disappointed by the piece and blame the decision to use body casting, but that does not mean body casting per se is not good. I do think the look of body casting is distinctly different from scratch-made modeling and failure to realize this on the part of some artists may lead to the decision to use body casting in situations where it may not be the best solution.

Any series of decisions made to create a piece could be a back and forth do-think-do-think effort to find the best methods to get at the best solution and if something goes wrong somewhere along the decision chain the final piece will probably be less than satisfying. A pointing machine per se is not bad, but if a tabletop original is scaled up to monumental size using such a machine, has the impact of the scale change been properly accounted for? If the artist is thoroughly competent, yes. Would the best method involve working full size to begin with? Maybe, that might be a solution that could avoid surprises when a small model is scaled up with a machine, but it doesn’t mean the machine is bad, it might simply not be the best solution for the intent of the piece.

I can’t accept the idea that the decision to use a particular technique places a piece outside the bounds of what art is because that does not account for the possibility that the decision to use a particular technique may be the best solution to get at what the piece is about and in fact may be essential to making a particular piece good. It’s the misapplication of a technique that creates the problems.

I have seen many, many pieces suspended from above with monofilament wire, you know, fishing wire. This wire is supposed to be invisible, in concept, but every piece I have seen suspended with monofilament has been displayed so the wire is obvious and hence the results disappointing. I completely discounted monofilament as a convincing technique until a few months ago when I encountered a piece in the Fogg Art museum of one object hung over another with monofilament wire, and to my amazement it is displayed in a way in which most views most of the time the wire really is invisible, and the artist’s intent is made visible. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of the artist but it is a contemporary German piece. This is a case that had I made a rule for myself that placed monofilament suspension outside the bounds of art then the possibility of the successful use of monofilament would never been possible in my mind let alone the potential for serious inquiry into the techniques necessary to make it work. It’s only taken me half a lifetime to finally see a successful use of monofilament which says quite a bit about the pervasive misunderstanding of what it takes to make monofilament suspension invisible, not the badness of monofilament wire per se.

JasonGillespie 03-23-2006 02:49 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
My use of photography was for example only. I do not feel that way about it myself...merely using an extreme to present my point. As to the issue of I use is a descriptive that refers to a mechanical, but unartistic creation.

It seems that the "larger" view of art is the sticking point and bodycasting just brings it to the fore. This is the "enlightened" viewpoint I was refering to in my earlier post. If art is anything that someone does...then sure bodycasting is art. Just as peeing in a jar and dropping a crucifix in it is...or smearing fecal matter on a canvas. We have opened Pandora's box and the way for art to be whatever you want.
Therein is my problem with the so-called "larger view". Is it really better? No. It is intrinsically flawed to accept anything as art...just as it is flawed to accept anything as medical care..or justice...or love. The history of western culture has been one of moving forward and creating specialized fields of understanding....areas with boundaries that contain specific knowledge so we can discern what is and what isn't. We don't create these boundaries to just be arbitrary...they give meaning to those things that reside inside by virtue of what is inside then being distinguishable from the things outside. But, if logic has its way...if the visual arts, among all the other fields of specialized knowledge has no boundary and ideas/intentions trumps ability..then art eventually loses any uniqueness it once had. A reality we can already see in the ever growing disconnect between the average person and the field of visual arts/fine arts.

It is the second law of Thermodynamics which states, "the total entropy of any thermodynamically isolated system tends to increase over time, approaching a maximum value." What this physical law of the universe states is simply that anything over time will revert to chaos, disorder. Our universe is winding down, the garden will become choked with weeds, water and wind will destroy the tallest mountain...over time. Devolution is the natural state of the universe. * Something must enforce order for there to be distinctions. We have to weed and mow the lawn, clean up the house, make sure doctors know what they are supposed to before they operate on us, go to school to learn what we need to know to function in society, on and on it goes an endless list of man ordering his world....because he must. In every other field of endeavor this is the art you say we should just shrug our shoulders and say anything is alright as long as it is masked in the guise of a "creative idea"...let chaos and entropy ensue. This "larger view" is demeaning/devaluing art as we speak.

In every example outside of art it is the ability, the capacity of the individual to perform their job/vocation, that determines whether or not they are what they say they are. Even avocations/hobbies use this same barometer as a judge of your level...novice...amateur....master?! But in art we are in possession of a "larger view". The degree to which this view is illogical is hardly measurable. Ony in the field of art can a person be an artist solely because they say they are. There is no need for that ultimate proof that is elsewhere the universal determinant.....ability. It is all good. But, we can feel good about ourselves because of our expansive view of art.

(Forgive me if I am sick of hearing words like conceptualism, progressive, enlightened, forward-looking, they are applied to art and other things as well. They are amorphous/generalizing/non-specific words that more and more often are used to create a comparison and contrast between what is contemporary and what is past with a derogative being implied to anything that isn't contemporary. Note these words are oftentimes used by demagogues to lull the sheep to sleep.)

The American Heritage Dictionary gives this definition

fine art

Something requiring highly developed techniques and skills, as in He's turned lying into a fine art, or The contractor excels in the fine art of demolition. This term alludes to the fine arts, such as music, painting, and sculpture, which require both skill and talent. It is now often used to describe anything that takes skill to do.

The Merriam-Webster gives this:


1 : skill acquired by experience, study, or observation <the art of making friends>
2 a : a branch of learning: (1) : one of the humanities (2) plural : LIBERAL ARTS b archaic : LEARNING, SCHOLARSHIP
3 : an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the art of organ building>
4 a : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced b (1) : FINE ARTS (2) : one of the fine arts (3) : a graphic art
5 a archaic : a skillful plan b : the quality or state of being artful
6 : decorative or illustrative elements in printed matter

There seems to be a trend among these descriptions. Skill....ability.....and the act of doing something that requires them. Bodycasting is an act that requires neither skill nor ability.....not above and beyond what any person with mind, eyes, arms, hands, and legs has.

If anyone can do it is it art? How can it be?

*(Please don't point out the evolution of life on earth as an exception. It was a physicist that brought to my attention this very fact as a proof that something must have ordered our existence for this law of the universe to have been thwarted since every where else it is absolutely true.)

Blake 03-24-2006 05:13 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
In my humble opinion I do not consider body casting as being “really art” or (at the risk of being thrown to the lions), as “fine art, good art or high art”. Logically this would allow it to be “poor art”, “bad art”, or “low art”, as most definitions of art will consent to it as “art”, in that the mould maker admittedly posses skill.
Please, before you jump on the semantics involved in the above allow me to explain.
I find that I sculpt in clay allot of things that are not true to the model. For example I tend to elongate the legs, I like big expressive feet, sometimes the model has some aspects of him or her that I will reduce or eliminate or perhaps exaggerate. I try to make the form rounder than it really is for example.
The point being that a body cast may be distorted by the weight of the plaster and the eyes will definitely have to be reworked unless this is a take off on “Dead Dad”, yet it is given that a mould can usually produce a very close example of a body, but the mould maker usually does not make the aesthetic changes required to define it as fine art, in my opinion, with the possible exceptions as noted before of Duane Hanson and George Segal and for the reasons previously argued in this thread.
I often see hands that are cast, you can usually tell by the wrinkles on the knuckles, which would be impossible to sculpt. I envy these perfect hands but find that my sculpted life-size hands to be more expressive as I can exaggerate the curvature of the bones and the position of the fingers to assist in the expression of the piece, I can also make them just a bit too big in proportion to the actual size of the model again adding expression that the mould maker will miss.
In my case, what makes it “fine, good, high or really” art is what you do to alter the figure from an aesthetic point of view rather than reproducing a copy from reality.

oddist 03-24-2006 11:05 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Maybe we should just consider it "High Craft?" :D

iowasculptor 03-24-2006 05:29 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
This is an interesting discussion, being someone who doesn't sculpt the figure, basically because I have no interest in doing it, I am trying to see it from a figurative sculptors point of view. I keep going back to this question, is it process or outcome? If the outcome is what is important then does it matter how you got there or even if you made it. When I fabricate a large sculpture I have help and eventually would like to have a whole factory of workers making my sculptures, taking my sketches maquettes etc and scaling them up and making them in the appropriate material. Is this art? Is dale chihuli and artist? Is albert paley and artist? Is Jeff Koons and artist? Is peter paul Rubins an artist? Well, the art world has spoken on this and delivered a resounding yes. These artists all have (to varying degrees) workers who make their art. For me what it comes down to is the concept, if someone casts a figure and leaves it at that I don't consider it art there is no concept. The same applies to figure sculptinng in any media, if it doesn't have a well thought out concept I tend to say so what? I do this with abstract art too, Art must be well thought out and do something for the viewer. What are the ideas behind the artwork? Why should I care about this work of art? Looking back through time the work that lasts has strong ideas that come through to the viewer and multiple layers of meanings, without that it might be nice to look at but won't be appreciated for all time. I also personally have the opinion that if I need a figure for a sculpture and a cast piece will have the same effect as a carved piece then I am going to pick the cast piece, Why should I spend all of the time and money that it takes to get the same result, I would not peobably ever make a figure and leave it by itself. The other issue that comes to mind is th eidea of multiples, for an installation. There may be a very good reason for casting a specific person and reproducing it many many times.
I know it kind of seems like a slap in the face when the public views a cast in the same light as an original figure sculpture but this is something that you need to be aware of and you can decide to fight it or accept it. It happens in all types of art, the print vs original many people don't know the difference and don't care, that is just the world we live in.
Good luck

ironman 03-24-2006 10:15 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Hi, George Segal's work is not about the figure!
George Segal's work is not about the figure!
George Segal's work is not about the figure!
Henry Moore had italian craftsmen carve his pieces!
Henry Moore had italian craftsmen carve his pieces!
Henry Moore had italian craftsmen carve his pieces!
Duane Hanson's work is not about the figure!
Duane Hanson's work is not about the figure!
Duane Hanson's work is not about the figure!
George, Henry and Duane are all great artists!
What do they have in common?

They force you, the spectator to use your faculties (eyes, brains, heart) to figure out what idea or feeling they're trying to get across, what is there point of view?

Yeah, They should have a good art foundation under them, a thorough grounding in realism, art history, theory, etc.

Some people are a little chagrined that there is a theory afloat that EVERYONE IS CREATIVE!
They want it all to themselves!

Have a nice evening,

JasonGillespie 03-25-2006 01:45 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
If a work is figurative in any way it is obviously to some degree about the figure...if only in the respect that it is a constructed object meant to convey those traits we accept as human. The greater theme of the work may lie somewhere else, but it will, at some level remain a figurative work. That is why Segal, Moore and Hanson are considered figurative artists.

Now I agree that creativity knows no bounds. Many people are creative that never will be considered artists and creativity takes many forms. If you identify yourself as a figurative artist, however, in my opinion then creativity just isn't enough. It helps to actually create the forms you use in your work.

The main point seems to be that some want to create allowances in the art world for work that requires less or no artistic ability.....but is still very creative and therefore somehow becomes just as artistic as work that requires creativity and a great degree of skill. "The idea is the thing" I've heard some people describe this way of thinking about art. Ideas are always going to be the driving force in great art, but they do not, in my mind constitue art by themselves or with talentless fabrications attached to them. Bodycasting is a great example of this type of allowance and enables some who might not otherwise be able to get their idea across due to lack of ability to render the form. It enables them to be figurative artists where, at least from a skill standpoint, they wouldn't otherwise be.

My contention is merely that this is fundamentally wrong in that it decreases the meaningfulness of all art. It has nothing to do with petty, selfish motives. I don't feel chagrined. I just don't want anyone in any field of endeavor that has worked hard to learn a skill have someone else who hasn't taken the time to learn that skill come along and say they are equal in importance. I respect people committing themselves to the hard, but rewarding task of learning and becoming skilled at whatever it is they choose to do...and do not respect those that through short cuts and half measures achieve results that may seem meaningful but lack real integrity. I do not think that the end justifies the means.

iowasculptor 03-25-2006 08:16 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Dude you live in the MTV generation, instant gratification, and convenience. This is just an extention of that mentality. The cast figure is the MTV generation, and just like the rest of the world it has become a player in all areas of society. I would just keep doing what you want and believe in, and quit worrying about things you can't change. Making art takes too much energy anyway, you don't have enough time to take the art world on this one, and in the end this discussion isn't about your sculptures since you choose to do it the old fashioned way, its about somebody else, not your problem. So enjoy the process that you like and look at the other within the context of thats a neet process, is there anything there that I can borrow either conceptually, or process wise that will enhance my own work.

G. Murdoch 03-25-2006 09:50 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
I'm with Jason on this one. I realise that there are canonised artists (Henry Moore) who had craftsmen provide the skilled work neccessary to have thier conceptions (realm of the ideal) manifest in the tangible (realm of the actual). That's fine and lovely. I personally reserve my highest regard for those artists who make thier ideas manifest through thier own labor and skill.

Of course there are exceptions. Certain artworks could not conceivably be produced by a single individual, regardless of skill level (architecture, film, etc). By thier very nature, certain artworks require the contribution of many people with a variety of skills. I understand and respect this truth.

If an artwork, say a figurative sculpture in stone, could be carved by an individual artist, and that artist choses to have others do the actual work, well for me I balk at granting that artist much respect. The "artworld" can gush praise all day long. As a stonecarver, I respect the ones who apply hammer to chisel to rock with courage, vision and skill.


JasonGillespie 03-25-2006 09:57 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
If you believe insomething strongly enough...the devaluing of art as a bad thing for artists and the culture you live in....then to do nothing is to quietly condone that action. To believe you can't change things is to give up your freedom to disagree, to revolt.

Yes, it is a disposable age where impulse usually outweighs thought. But would our country ever have been formed if the early Americans just said, "well, that's just the way it is and we should probably enjoy the life we have"? No, some things are worth fighting for. Courbet, Manet, the Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, Cubists, Surrealists....all of these groups would never been if they had followed advice like yours. You wouldn't be able to create the art you do if they hadn't first revolted against the monolithic art philosophy of their time. So forgive me If I do not take your advice.

Art is, I think, worth fighting for. Respect for art and artists is worth fighting for. But that is not everyone's opinion and I know and accept that....that that can't change.... I refuse to accept however. :)

ironman 03-25-2006 10:08 AM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Hey Jason, I think we would agree that Segal's work is NOT about the figure and I think that if he, let's say, skillfully carved them out of marble, that might take away from what he's trying to say.
Now, I know, that you might bring up the "Burgher's", but although beautifully done doesn't interract with each other on the level of Segal's work. I AM NO SAYING THAT SEGAL'S WORK IS BETTER. It's the detatchment from each other, while sharing the same space and breathing the same air, so to speak, that gives Segal's work it's power. He a "CITY" sculptor and that loneliness or anonimity that one experiences in a big city is what he's after. The fact that they're mostly painted white just adds to that. That they're not "specific" also adds to that feeling.
That loneliness and anonimity is not present in the "Burgher's".
I know you're not chagrined, I apologize for that.
Iowasculptor is right on with his words of wisdom.
Have a great day,

grommet 03-25-2006 12:36 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?
Well, I believe that everyone needs Art. And just as everyone has different taste buds, they also have different art needs. Different things that relate to their personal experience. It isn't wrong, it's just that broccoli is for other people.

JasonGillespie 03-25-2006 03:35 PM

Re: Is bodycasting really art?

I actually like Segal's work. His pieces about societal alienation are very well done. That is why I originally said he would get a pass for using the technique first. (See my second post) I completely get his work. It does resonate with me. As a result Segal's work has never been an issue with me.

Hanson is another matter, but the issue for me there isn't what he is trying to do but how he is going about it. As I said before, in my book the end doesn't justify the means. For me he is doing little more than really technically astute window dressing. His "message" means little to me since I don't see his process as terribly artistic. (Not to mention that in my opinion his "message" is overwhelmed by the gimmicky quality his pieces exude.) But as I said, some feel differently about this and we all are entitled to our view points, micro and macro.

As for Henry Moore and Jean Baptiste Carpeaux, though they had others create versions of their work in mediums they weren't used to, they obviously created works in mediums that they were familiar with themselves. These works show their genius and I have no problem with the other work they farmed out as a result. They had skill, they had ideas, they were both complete packages.

Something you see a lot of here in New York.....there is more than a little "idea" driven art. It is mostly pretentious even if it is technically well skill by itself is no answer to the problem to creating good art. (It is a very real danger here at the academy where the emphasis is on technical proficiency.) It is ...I think I've played this record before...a balance. So don't think I'm just about skill and ability. Good ideas must be a part of the formula and I think that is crucial. I'll be the first to admit that.

My feelings about most modern/post-modern/contemporary non-objective/objective sculpture is that if it is good in terms of idea and execution, then that is what matters. (Excepting that art which takes no true skill to that anyone can do...I must draw the line here.) I don't divide things into new or old. And I don't just prefer art that, as Iowasculptor so quaintly put it, is "old fashioned". To me those are inaccurate ways of looking at things since everything is influenced by what came before and therefore creates an unbroken line of continuity in terms of artistic evolution.

We aren't as far apart as you think. :D

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