Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sculpture and Pope John Paul II

Filippo Monteforte photographer
When is a portrait not a portrait?

When the sculpture reminds people more of a urinal than the man it is supposed to portray.

That's not good when the work is supposed to depict Pope John Paul ll.

photo by Marco Guerrier
The large bronze sculpture was created by Oliviero Rainaldi.

Located next to the Rome's Termini Train Station, the work drawn criticism from the public. 

They're calling it a "Vespasiano"
a urinal. It also reminds the Italians of the fascist Mussolini.

Mr. Rainaldi was inspired by a photo of the late pope enveloping a child in his cloak.

Aside from the lack of resemblance to the pope, the sculpture's major flaw is both conceptual and physical. 

Figurative sculpture is not alive, but it is about ideas and forms.

The figure is hollow. Empty. That's very disconcerting.

Given that this sculpture represents the much loved pope, to break the understanding that his body occupied physical space breaks any identification the public can have with the sculpture. (It's like an actor breaking the fourth wall.)

The sculptor's idea's about the cloak took over and consumed the Pope's body! The cloaks hollow shell destroyed the crucial form - that of the pope's body and conveys hollow emptiness rather than comfort and shelter and a loving presence.

This should have been obvious to the artist and any committee overseeing the project in the preliminary drawings and certainly in the maquette stage.

It's bad sculpture and bad publicity. More on the work here and here.

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