Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sculpture and Creativity. Call it Fishing

Creating a new sculpture is like going fishing.

For everyone else, it's all about the fish you bring back. No one cares about your art until you make it. 

For this artist, it is the experience of getting back to nature. That's finding Nature with a capital N, both in the real world and inside of yourself. Finding that internal stillness where the chatter stops takes discipline, ignoring the other demands on your time.

Creating takes Silence and Listening.

Creating means refusing quick answers to questions that are still being formulated.
Then perhaps a beginning, often followed by more silence and listening. A call and response.
Technique is not enough to make good art. There must be thought and heart behind it.

What does it take for you to "go fishing?"

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sculpture and Sigmund Freud

I'm not interested in Freud's analysis, or the couch.  I am interested in his sculpture collection.
Egyptian baboon from the collection of Sigmund Freud
The Essence of Frenchness has a good post on Sigmund Freud's office. Or should I say Freud's gallery?

It's full of sculpture. Good sculpture from all over the world. Egyptian, Greek, Asian.
It's worth a quick trip to France, click here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Sculpture and Walking

Driving may get you to the city. Once there though, driving keeps you from seeing the city.
Beautiful carved sandstone panel.
Portland has many beautiful old handmade buildings. When they were built, people saw them by walking or from an open horse drawn carriage.  Driving doesn't allow you to look UP.
I know this is based on an acanthus leaf, but I love it as a palm leaf too. Also love how directly it shows the cutting and tool marks involved in creating it.

Acanthus detail over ornamental panel.
With summer's good weather, walking may introduce you to sculpture you haven't seen before.
Look UP!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sculpture and Self Employment

In the 21st Century everyone will be an artist.

.................................or be employed like one. 

I've created all of my sculpture jobs by doing my research and tracking down prospective leads with more persistance than any bloodhound. Mannequins, film work, architectural ornament, I went to the manufacturers and showed them that I could produce good work for them.

The problem with contract art work is that as soon as I'm done with the job, I'm OUT of the job.... until the next time they need my skills. If there is a next time. 

At times, I've been wildly envious of friends with stable jobs. Non creative jobs. How do they do it?
Now Thomas L Friedman says the future of all work is sounding more like "an artist's life".

Forget the life plan career arc for ANY profession.

Thomas L Friedman's New York Times op-ed article profiles Reid Garrett Hoffman's new book, The Start-Up of You.

"The old paradigm of climb up a stable career ladder is dead and gone. No career is a sure thing anymore. The uncertain, rapidly changing conditions in which entrepreneurs start companies is what it's now like for all of us fashioning a career. Therefore you should approach career strategy the same way an entrepreneur (artist) approaches starting a business."

Is it reassuring to know as an artist, that you're not chronically unemployed,  you're an early adaptor?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sculpture and Architecture in Mississauga, Ontario

Sculpture used to be on buildings, an ornament on the architecture.
Now sculpture is the architecture.
photo by Ryan Enn Hughes for the New York Times, from the NYT
Two new condominium towers in Mississauga, Ontario are nicknamed "Marilyn Monroe"
because of their larger than life curves.

Designed by the Chinese Architect Ma Yansong, and his partner, Qun Dang, the towers won an international design competition organized by the development company, Fernbrook Cityzen.

"I was thinking maybe North American cities need some-thing more organic, more natural, more human," said Mr. Ma.

With this design, each floor is different because the floor plates rotate around the central axis of the building. Each unit has its own balcony.

Cities usually develop significant architecture through public projects. This project is unique in that it was developed privately and is a residential  project.

Read more about the towers in the NY Times article here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Sculpture and Gardens

Some gardens may have sculpture, but good gardens ARE sculpture.

Gardens are sculpture in its essence in that they can make you physically aware of the volume of space around every object in the garden. 

Your senses become heightened, you become aware that your physical position is a dance, relative to every other being or object in the garden.

Dimensionality, texture, scale, voids and masses are all basic elements of sculpture. 

Don't forget duration and TIME. 

Gardens make you aware of the elasticity of time. The quickest way to experience Kairos, sacred time is in a garden. Time stops wonderously to allow you to experience a perfect moment: a bird song, a spider web, a flower. Something small that you've slowed down enough to actually experience.

Time also accumulates best in gardens. It does this quietly through the growth of plants to become a patina of years.

Don't just look for flowers in gardens you visit this summer....................
Look for sculpture in how the garden moves you.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sculpture and 3 Dimensional Printing

Have you thought of 3D printing when you need new ceramic dishes?
Reaction Spiral lamp by Nervoussystems
Adam by Virtox
Invase by Virtox
The company Shapeways has created a 3D printer that allows users to create food safe tableware like salt and pepper shakers, plates and cups. The printer uses layers of ceramic powder to create the object, which is then dried in an oven and then fired in a ceramic kiln at high temperatures to vitrifcation.

A human potter can make normal plates and drinking cups faster and less expensively. I'd argue that his or her work would be better because hand made will fit your hands better. Where this ceramic printing comes into its own is for complex computer modeled figures like the Invase.

Read more about printed ceramics

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sculpture and Feet and Shoes

Fashion may seem frivolous when compared to the lofty aspirations of sculpture.
Don't kid yourself.
Fashion has always been about influence, money and power. Always attractive to artists.

Inspired by Magdalene and the Flame by Georges de la Tour  .

Christian Louboutin worked with artist/photographer Peter Lippman for his fall 2011 shoe promotion.  
The photos are witty and beautifully executed. They're inspired by famous paintings with the hope that people will consider his shoes as works of art.

Shoes as fetish items have a long history. These shoes are designed to be outrageous and titillating to see. They have maximum visual impact. I've no problem with placing these shoes on a pedestal. They require  high craft to make them. They're far more attractive than Jeff Koon's vacuum cleaners in plexi boxes.  
I do have a problem with shoes as "performance art." Form is utterly divorced from function.

My concern is the physical impact these "sculptures" will have on young women who are willing to be shaped to fit this fashion. I meant that literally and physically. Ankle, knee, and spine problems. Nasty falls. The designers claim no responsibility for the necessary physical act of walking.
Bound feet were only three inches long, impossible to walk unassisted.
Is foot binding/fashion barbaric if it's voluntary?

Fashion should look both forwards and backwards when trying to cross the street.
Glamour can take a long time to heal. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Sculpture and A Lament for Ali Farka

A lovely tribute to the muscian Ali Farka by Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni Ba featuring African sculpture, sea life and paintings.  The juxtaposition of music and images makes you see them all anew.

I especially enjoy the connection the video makes between masks and the tuning end of a stringed instrument. I'd never seen that anthropomorphically. Not much information on the video.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Sculpture and Tadelakt

I checked out the book, "Tadelakt, an old Moroccan plaster technique newly discovered" by Michael Johannes Ochs. His book covers the history, the chemistry, and shows contemporary uses of tadelakt.

The traditional craft is being revived because it is hydrophobic and odorless. It has fungicidal properties. It's labor intensive. It's ethnic, it's expensive. All these give Tadelakt cachet.

I think the main reason for the revival is because it creates incredibly beautiful surfaces. 

Walls and floors have a subtle sheen and wonderful depth of color with soft variations and surface textures. There are several videos on Youtube, this one covers most of the process.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sculpture and Poltergeist II

I was ransacking my photo files looking for relief portraits I'd created when I found
these photos taken on the set of Poltergeist II. (probably in 1985)
Exterior view of cave and its supporting structure.
I was part of a team of sculptors turned loose on this giant structure of foam and chicken wire structure. The art director's goal was to transform it into a dark underworld cave.

Our tools were chainsaws.

How long do you think it takes a chainsaw to go through two inches of foam?
That could be me on the ladder in the middle of these two photos.
Now imagine several men, all armed with chainsaws, working as fast as possible, in close quarters, working to make the foam look like stone but cutting through foam instantly and getting our blades caught in metal wire.  

No movie could be as scary as working in this cave was for us.
With our work on the cave done, another department brought in these skeletons.

What was disturbing was that some of the bodies were real skeletons. Not plastic props, but real human skeletons. That the physical remains of people who had lived and died were being made to "die" all over again with make up and latex. That there was no reverence for the human bones struck me as utterly grotesque.

It was one of those choice moments where you realize you can choose money or your values.
I realized that if I stayed working for Hollywood, I'd be making monsters and dead bodies and working in a material I had come to loath. Foam.

I left.

I haven't been a big fan of popular movies since then.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sculpture and Al Farrow

Sculpture and Guns part 2

How's this for a frightening sculpture?
 "The Spine and Tooth of Santo Guerro." by Al Farrow 2007
"The Spine and Tooth of Holy War" draws you in with its impeccable craftsmanship. Only upon really looking at it do you realize that the entire cathedral is made of ammunition shells and many, many guns.

The artist is Al Farrow.
Farrow's series, Reliquaries, takes direct aim at several major religion, illustrating their toxic brew of faith and intolerance. And like the reliquaries of the middle ages, these too contain human bones and teeth.

The theme is a very dark subject matter, but it's part of America's DNA, the right to bear arms. (And sell enough guns and ammo to the entire world to kill us all several times over...) Farrow's work is so meticulous and beautifully executed that there's a child-like marvel at the beauty of the structures. Then you think about all the layers of meaning in the work for days afterward.

See more of his reliquaries, and his other series on Al Farrow's website.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Sculpture and Guns

Sculpture and Guns.
Two parts. One sublime, one ridiculus. Your call.
 Photo from Atalier Ted Noten

Why should boy spies have all the fun?

From the Atalier of designer Ted Noten, comes the Seven Necessities, a fashionista's personal pistol.

It's really a compact outfitted with 18 Kart gold details. Features include: lip gloss in the muzzle, pills, Viagra was suggested but again a personal choice. There's a 50 grams 24-karat gold piece, and a 4-gigabyte thumb drive in the gun's handle.

A bang with bang?

At the suggested price $17,000, how do you get it through airport security?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Sculpture and Thomas Glassford

Thomas Glassford is an artist working in Mexico City. His sculpture, Xipe Totec, is a skin of colored LED tubing that covers the 20 story National University of Mexico building.

The title, Xipe Totec, refers to the Aztec god, the flayed one, who cut off his own skin feed humanity. Like that death and rebirth symbol, the  sculpture is a skin of light that links the past to the present and the future.

Más info en este blog:

New York Times article on Xipe Totec here.

Tiles of Infinity is good article on the history of Arabic mathematics involved in creating the patterns in Xipe Totec.