Friday, January 13, 2012

Sculpture and Criticism

People are afraid to evaluate a sculpture because they don't trust their own judgment.
A good example of a bad sculpture.  (It even more difficult to say "That's awful!" when it's Jesus.)
Here's a simple process to evaluate a figurative piece of sculpture. 

Allow yourself plenty of time to study the sculpture. Walk around it, see it from every angle. 
You might try and take the pose. Ask yourself if any distortion or stylization is part of the story the artist is telling you. (You do this whether you do or don't like the art, this isn't about you. It's about understanding the art.) After doing all this, are you uncomfortable or ill at ease with the work?
   If so, most likely there's something wrong with the sculpture.
This figure is bad because it's a Frankenstein. It was modeled in separate parts that were then assembled. They do not make a unified whole. Where exactly are his shoulder, elbow and knee? 
"Oh, they're in there somewhere" not an acceptable answer.

Which brings us to major problem #2: Drapery should always help to define the figure beneath it.

Bad sculpture gets carried away with the parts and forgets the whole. 
The hair becomes a shampoo commercial, the drapery is being blown by a hurricane......

Refer to the photo above and try to pin point where his right knee should be. Can't find it? That's because the sculptor doesn't know either!

More DUBIOUS ANATOMY. Christ or Quasimodo? He has NO neck.

Here too much attention has been lavished on the expense of his trapezious and clavicles. The result is there is NO articulation of shoulder, head and neck.  Do you see it? His right clavicle should curve back, the bone has many compound curves. Here it's like a 2 x 4.
No neck. No neck. No Neck.
This sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiglieri, can do good work, he just didn't bother to take the time. Shame on him.

What about the donors who funded this mess? Do they just write the check and not demand excellence?

I'm upset that D grade work passes as sculpture and no one say's it's crap! Where are the meth-heads that cut up bronze sculpture when you need them?


Minerva said...

I understand your indignation.
Bad sculpture makes my eyes hurt.
Explaining what’s wrong with it, is very didactic and information badly needed…

Patrick Gracewood said...

Thank you, That word perfectly describes all my reactions to bad sculpture!

Indignant:expressing strong displeasure at something considered unjust, offensive, insulting, or base.

Patrick Gracewood said...

I received Umberto's comment via email and am reposting here.
Mr. Gracewood,

Refreshing to find someone willing to call a spade a spade when it comes to creative work.

During a recent online search, for bas relief reference material, your blog kept coming up, so I decided to have a look. Found most of your posts keenly insightful and wonderfully informative, especially the one about the relief at Portland's Central Library and the one regarding Mr. Ghiglieri's Jesus.
A further visit to Mr. Ghiglieri's website led me to agree with you that good work is within his capabilities, though quite a bit of his self labeled masterpieces where cringe worthy.
It brought to mind a few Alfred Crocker Leighton quotes: "Don't do poor work, and if you do, don't let it out." & "The public cannot be expected to jury."

As you expressed, it is astounding when bad work gets heralded as masterful and deemed worthy funding.

Thank you,