Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sculpture and Relief

Let's look at a another bas relief at Portland's Central Library. It's older but far more successful than the relief in previous posts. Why?

It works because it is well thought out and well executed.

Our eyes enter the composition at the upper left corner and go to her face, then we read her entire body and then look at the book she holds.  That directs us to read the inscription. Everything belongs in its place.

Look at the subtle relationships of chair and her body. There are almost parallels of upper arm and chair back. Then look at the converging lines of chair arm and forearm and hand. Her shawl gives supporting forms that fan and span the space between her body and the chair, while her skirt folds end at her knee which brings us back to the book and we're back at the inscription.

Which brings us to the lettering. It was hand carved, backwards into the plaster mold. You don't need to know that to appreciate it, but it helps. The lettering exactly fits this artwork and no other. Look at the kerning of the letters. (Easiest to see in her name: Mary Francis Isom.) There's a subtle irregularity that makes it far more lively than the standard mechanical press and stick letters used on the other relief. These artists knew their craft. They cared.

They cared enough to sign their work.

1 comment:

Theresa Cheek said...

The signature of the artists speaks volumes. The time it took to do this speaks highly of their dedication of doing a job right!