Мееt The Sculptor: Isabel Miramontes

Born in Spain and influenced by the Celtic Origins of her village, the bronze works of Isabel MIRAMONTES have both a primitive and essential quality to them.

Her recognizable androgynous figures express a narrative of quiet certitude and the inevitable struggle of everyday man, his obstacles and triumphs.

The figures bear the weight of humanity, astonishingly defying their bronze origins with a definite fluidity of movement and a spiritual density omnipresent in her work.

Highly schooled and celebrated artist, Isabel MIRAMONTES resides in Belgium where she was raised and attended the Institute Sainte Marie and Saint Gilles.

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Allez Viens

Isabel is known for her bronze works, and does both commissioned monumental works, as well as small to midsize more accessible works as found on display at the Canfin Gallery. 

(Most of the narrative for this post and some of the images came from the Canfin Gallery’s site.)

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Extase

Isabel’s works reside in both public and private collections.

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Glissade

The artist’s work is pure movement, even if it’s an “animated” chair or bench. Unusual forms, elongated spirals and horizontal strips, which seem to wrap around the figure, show an inner confusion. Every figure is amazingly plastic and poetic.

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Chemin de Vie

“Isabel Miramontes feels that art calms the torments of life, and she freely
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reinvents them using her own artistic language. Her line is that of the wind, timelessly expanding and contracting to form her unique sculptural style. She does not like superfluous expression. To Miramontes, man and medium intermingle, becoming emotions and forgotten sensations which create art in its purest sense.”

 

 

Cold Stone, Hot Sex: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

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Gian Lorenzo Bernini,  also Gianlorenzo or Giovanni Lorenzo (7 December 1598 – 28 November 1680), an Italian sculptor and architect, loved sex, was very fond of sex, and was one of greatest admirers of carnal pleasures.
At the age of 16 he created a masterpiece that emanates passion — The Rape of Proserpina (1621-22). It’s hard to believe that the hot, full-bodied passion marble is the work of a sixteen-year-old boy!Скульптура_Джан-Лоренцо-Бернини_Похищение-Прозерпины-1621-22_02.jpgNo, not a boy, but a man. A man who knew about the power of passion and how impossible it is to contain. Proserpine seems to fly upwards, trying to escape from the strong embrace of Pluto, and the fingers of God of Underworld cling to her young flesh. No one could make stone convey soft skin, curling hair, or crinkling fabrics the way Bernini could.  Related image

Bernini was 26 when he created Apollo and Daphne.  The technique of the caught moment reaches perfection.Apollo & Daphne September 2a.jpg
Apollo is consumed by desire, but Daphne appealed to the gods, “Destroy the beauty that has injured me, or change the body that destroys my life.”  Gods obliged, and the maiden was turned into a tree. Скульптура_Джан-Лоренцо-Бернини_Аполлон-и-Дафна-1622–25_02.jpg

A real passion born of love is always a movement, it is a whirlwind that captures the body. Passion is like a tornado, and its frenzied movement is felt in Bernini’s masterpiece. The chase is over, the movement fades. Daphne’s feet grow into the ground, hands turn into twigs, and Apollo slows his run at a loss, feeling in his left hand not the desired flesh, but a rough tree bark.

(to be continued…)

Meet The Sculptor: Philip Jackson

Born in Inverness, Philip Jackson lives and works in West Sussex. He was appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list 2009.

Jackson’s ability to convey the human condition through skillful use of body language is legendary, producing figures both imposing and operatic in their narrative and presence, which are recognizable worldwide.
Powerful and beautifully sculpted, Jackson’s meticulously precise posturing of each piece creates an overwhelming sense of drama.

escultorWhether with the prestigious, figuratively detailed public monuments and statues for which he is often commissioned, or his hauntingly elegant and theatrically enigmatic gallery sculptures, Philip Jackson’s work is truly awe inspiring — it never fails to move people.

Meet The Sculptor: Igor Mitoraj

Igor Mitoraj, born in 1944, studied painting at the Krakow Academy of Art under Tadeusz Kantor. In 1968 he left Poland and devoted his life to sculpture. His first solo exhibition at the Parisian Galerie La Hune in 1976 was a great success.mitoraj.1 No less successful were the next exhibitions — in New York (New York Academy of Art, 1989), Florence (the Bobola Gardens, 1999),  Lausanne (The Olympic Museum, 2001). mitoraj.4The works by the distinguished sculptor belong to prestigious museums or public and private art collections in such places as the United States, Japan, France or Tokyo. They can also be admired in some extraordinary locations: surrounded by historical architecture or in modern city districts.

mitoraj.2Igor Mitoraj’s sculpture – Eros Bendato – has been raised at the Market Square next to the Krakow’s Town Hall Tower. The nearly two-ton bronze casting is the artist’s gift for the City of Krakow.

mitoraj.5Until his death in Paris in October 2014, Igor Mitoraj lived and worked in Tuscany, Italy, in the town of Pietrasanta, a picturesque town in the province of Lukka, near the City of Carrara and close to the quarry which once supplied Michelangelo with beautiful marble for his magnificent masterpieces.mitoraj.3 In recognition of his talent and artistic merit the town awarded Mitoraj the honorary city citizenship. Following Mitoraj’s death his ashes were brought to their final resting place in Pietrasanta, where he had made his home.mitorajBefore his death, Mitoraj had chosen the exact locations for the 30 sculptures that will go on display in a traveling exhibition at Pompeii, starting May 14.mitoraj.jpgFollowing the artist’s wishes and under the artistic direction of Luca Pizza from the Atelier Mitoraj, the 30 large-scale sculptures depicting imposing mythological characters face off with the most well-known architecture of the ancient city after being placed in key locations in the archeological site of Pompeii — from the Forum to the Basilica, from the Gladiators’ Barracks to the Via dell’Abbondanza.mitoraj.jpg

Stairway to Heaven

lestnicaThe sculpture by the Spanish artist Eugenio Merino “Stairway to Heaven” offended just about everyone. Embassy of Israel in Madrid even expressed formal protest.

According to the artist, however, his intention was to convey the idea of tolerance and appeal to the followers of the three religions to respect one another’s beliefs: Rabbi holds the Koran, a Catholic priest read the Torah and the knelt Muslim has the Bible at his side. Muslims, on the other hand, may as well  interpret the sculpture as showing  that Islam is at the base of the institute of religion.

In postscript, the blogger on whose page I found the article (in Russian, here,) suggests to add a levitating Buddhist above. Something like this, perhaps, characteristically for Buddhas, defying gravity:with buddha.jpg

Eugenio Merino is no stranger to a controversy. Among other things, he has been taken to court by the Franco Foundation  for works Merino has made using the image of the late authoritarian ruler. His work Punching Franco is a lifelike head of Franco designed to be used as a punchbag; the Franco Foundation says it is “demeaning”. ( Dictators in fridges: the artist putting Franco and co in cold storage.)

Eugenio Merino

A Tale Of A Kiss

August Rodin's The Kiss originally represented Paolo and Francesca, two characters borrowed, once again, from Dante’s Divine Comedy: slain by Francesca’s husband who surprised them as they exchanged their first kiss, the two lovers were condemned to wander eternally through Hell.

The Kiss, however unique and outstanding, wasn’t the only work by the great Auguste Rodin inspired by  his passion for his pupil, the sculptor Camille Claudel.

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You find me at work; excuse the dust on my blouse. I sculpt my marble myself. Camille Claudel. 

Camille was no ordinary woman. Her talent manifested itself at age 17 when, against her parents’ wishes, she enrolled at the Academy Colarossi. There she has been mentored by the famed sculptor Alfred Boucher, and soon thereafter  Camille began taking lessons from Auguste Rodin and work in his studio.Rodin-Kiss-3.jpgAt first Camille only sanded and polished Rodin’s sculptures. Then he trusted her with finishing them, but over time she began to create her own. She became a sculptor in her own right and the author of many designs.

For 15 years, she was the artist’s lover, his model, muse, generator of ideas and a co-author of his best works.

Auguste Rodin. Danaid, 1885, a sculpture dedicated to Camille Claudel.

Auguste Rodin. Danaid, 1885, a sculpture dedicated to Camille Claudel.

Their happiness was not quite complete. Rodin never left his civilian wife of over 20 years for Camille, and she refused to settle for the role of a mistress. 15-year history of collaboration and passion ended in disaster.

Camille Claudel. The Eternal Idol, 1888 (left). Auguste Rodin. The Eternal Idol, 1889 (right)

Camille Claudel. The Eternal Idol, 1888 (left). Auguste Rodin. The Eternal Idol, 1889 (right)

Camille’s love turned into hatred. For several weeks she did not leave her apartment, lost in a deep depression. She molded shapes and figures and then smashed them, covering the floor  with shards.

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I took all my wax studies and threw them in the fire… that’s the way it is when something unpleasant happens to me. I take my hammer and I squash a figure. —  Camille Claudel

In a fit of hatred for Rodin, Camille has repeatedly accused him of stealing  her ideas. After their parting in 1913, Camille had a mental breakdown and was placed in a psychiatric hospital, where she spent the remaining 30 years of her life.

Camille Claudel. * * The Age of Maturity, 1900 - an allegory of her break with Rodin.

Camille Claudel. The Age of Maturity, 1900, an allegory of her break with Rodin. Begging figure is a self-portrait of Camille

You promised to take care of me and not to turn your back on me. How is it possible that you never wrote to me even once and you never came back to see me? Do you think that it is fun for me to spend months, even years, without any news, without any hope! Camille Claudel.

It is difficult to judge the extent of genius talent. However, numerous critics admitted that after breaking up with Camille Rodin’s talent somewhat faded away. He created no works quite as significant as the masterpieces that came to life during his association with Camille. rodin.PNGIn the 1880-1890, the peak of his passionate relationship with Camille Claudel,  Auguste Rodin created the works recognized as his very best: Eve, The Thinker, The Eternal Idol, The Eternal Spring and The Kiss.

Meet The Artist: Sergei Isupov

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Sergei Isupov ‘s surreal ceramics combine paintings with sculpture.

Sergei Isupov was born in 1964 in Stavropol, Russia. He studied art in Ukraine, and then continued his studies in Estonia. His professional career began in 1990. He participated in exhibitions in the Baltic States, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark. In 1994, he emigrated to the United States, where he lives and works today.исупов8

Sergei Isupov’s artwork is always multifaceted. Both animal and human essence are intricately intertwined, molding surrealistic creatures right out of a dream.исупов9

Sergei Isupov investigates binaries in human relationships — male and female, good and evil, beautiful and grotesque. Using clay as both a material for three-dimensional expression and as a canvas for his illustrations, Isupov capitalizes on all properties of what he finds to be the most open medium. He sculpts human and animal figures, and then adds illustrations in glaze.исупов97

The paintings diffuse into the clay’s surface, like tattoos on his sculptures’ skin. Taken together, the two- and three-dimensional elements of his work establish a compacted but powerful scene of emotions and narratives.
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In their ambiguity, the narratives are remote and uncomfortable. Bodies lie on the ground and embrace in unnatural positions. исупов992

Animals talk eye to eye with their human counterparts, leaning inward and speaking in hushed tones.исупов91

The influence of the Surrealist movement on Isupov’s work is obvious. Proportions are perverted and exaggerated. 
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He invents his own outlandish creatures, usually monsters. Although there is something off-putting in his work, his figures evoke empathy and a feeling of comfort.   (Anna Carey, article in Hi Fructose.)исупов1

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And more of Isupov:

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That secret lair of creativity…

An artist’s studio should be a small space because small rooms discipline the mind and large ones distract it.  Those are the words of Leonardo da Vinci.

For ten years, the photographer Gautier Deblonde photographed workshops of the most famous artists of our time– his portfolio Atelier. Most of these liars of creativity aren’t small spaces, though.

This is one of them —  the studio of  Sir Antony Gormley, OBE, a British sculptor. His work space in London is a converted warehouse north of King’s Cross station.
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(1) The works from the series Blockworks, having been created between 2003 and 2009. All the sculptures in this series are made of the same shape blocks in four sizes: each successive element is eight times the size of the previous one.

(2) Sculpture from the series Feeling Material. According to Gormley, it was created as an attempt to “describe the space of the body with the help of the matrix formed by the rings.”

Even if you do not know the specifics of Gormley’s creativity, it is  obvious that the artist working here is a person preoccupied with the dynamics of transformation of the human body, all that is connected with its dynamics. Iron as a main material of  Gromley’s sculptures might as well  be replaced by some entirely different substance, but most Gromley’s “men” were  made of clay replica of the artist’s own body.

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Joseph Backstein, director of the  Institute of Contemporary Art in Moscow (ICA Moscow) once visited Anthony Gromley in his studio when the atist was, quite literally, hard at work, his entire body  covered with in clay.  In the course of the ensued conversation, Backstein recalls, clay on Anthony’s body gradually solidified and, in the end, the only animated part of Sir Anthony was his mouth, his lips moving.

(4) Figure of Man in the left corner of the Deblonde’s photo, is an example of the most common manifestations of Gormley’s artwork. The artist likes to place such sculptures in different urban spaces: on rooftops, on the windows, at the edge of the sea — simply google his works and see them perched in most unusual places.

His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England, commissioned in 1994 and erected in February 1998, Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site installation which premiered in London in 2007, around Madison Square in New York City, in 2010 and in São Paulo, in 2012, says Wikipedia.

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The sculptor Antony Gormley in his London studio with two of his works. Credit Hazel Thompson for The New York Times.

Actually, this large space on  Deblonde‘s photograph is only a small part of the sprawling lair.   Anthony Gormley– no surprise here — had long became an enterprise. His house has several floors with offices, workshops and laboratories. A huge number of assistants and workers are engaged in casting and creating models every day. Sir Anthony  is said to be very involved in the everyday activities of his staff, but he is no longer particularly hands on — or, rather, clay on — artist, like the hardening under the layer of clay self he was during Mr. Backstein’s visit.

Mueck At Work

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London-based sculptor Ron Mueck, formerly a model maker and puppeteer for children’s television and films, has been creating fine art sculptures since 1996. Using resin, fiberglass, silicone, and many other materials, Mueck constructs hyperrealistic likenesses of human beings, while playing with scale. The detailed sculptures are captivating when viewed up close, as they may be many times larger or smaller than expected. (Atlantic.)

I’m fascinated by Ron Mueck’s  artwork — see my Hyperventilating Over Hyperrealism post from 2 years ago.

Ever the best photographs of Ron Mueck at work in his liar of creativity were created by Gautier Deblonde.  French by birth and upbringing, Gautier Deblonde works in London as a photographer since 1991.

He photographed the active process for Ron Mueck’s sculpture Boy for the Millennium Dome in London. Published by the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, this series of photographs won a World Press Award in 2001.Boy

Here is more of Ron Mueck by Gautier Deblonde.

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Confusion In The Head

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt Character Head

Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Character Head: The Beaked

This is the work of Franz Xaver Messerschmidt, a German-Austrian (Swabian) sculptor (1736-1783). One of the most fascinating sculptors of the Enlightenment, he enjoyed great success working in Vienna for the imperial family under Maria Theresa. At the beginning of his career he was a rather “conventional” artist, having completed his studies at the Vienna Academy, and taking up a position as a bronze chaser at the Imperial Armoury in Vienna’s Renngasse.

But then something happened… in his head, and he created his most famous group of works, the studies of heads known today as Character Heads.Franz Xaver Messerschmidt Character Head9

He began to suffer both from hallucinations and have paranoid ideas — evil spirits were after him, determined to possess him and destroy his art.

His situation came to a head in 1774 when he applied for the position of leading professor at the Academy (where he had been a teacher since the late 1760s).  Far from getting the promotion he expected and desired he was barred from teaching altogether.   The Chancellor of State, Count Kaunitz felt compelled to write a letter to the Empress explaining why this had happened.  Messerschmidt’s state of mind was referred to as a ‘confusion in the head’ in this letter.  Whether it was schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or another condition will never be firmly established but many art historians believe this to be the case. (Madness of Messerschmidt.)

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Apparently, Franz Xaver Messerschmidt had been suffering for years from a digestive illness (perhaps, Crohn’s disease.)  The twisted faces were the variation of his own facial expressions: to alleviate the agony of discomfort he felt constantly, he’d pinch his chest, causing terrible pain…

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Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. Character Head: The Vexed Man

We might call it art therapy today but the busts in marble and bronze were to template himself for future medical study.  (Madness of Messerschmidt.)
In 1781, Messerschmidt confided in the noted German author, Friedrich Nicolai, that he felt he had angered the ‘Spirit of Proportion’ who it was said guarded the knowledge of universal balance which he was trying to express in his work. The spirit would come to him in the dead of night and inflict endless and humiliating tortures on him, which inspired one of his head, The Beaked, above.

Messerschmidt worked obsessively on these altogether 69 heads, the majority of whose faces are contorted into extreme grimaces. The spectrum of heads, which he conversationally referred to as his ‘Portreen’ – portraits – extends from natural-appearing busts modeled after those of antiquity to heads with exaggerated, highly expressive facial features whose supreme exertions manifest emotions that defy interpretation.

Excluded effectively from society by the powers of the Academy, Messerschmidt died in isolation, labeled both antisocial and unreasonable.  His hyper-real portraits, however, have survived the centuries. He has been a truly sick man, perhaps even mad, but his suffering has become his inspiration. Messerschmidt died in 1783.

16 original heads, the world’s largest collection from this group of works, and numerous plaster casts of the total of 54 extant works, currently housed in Vienna’s Belvedere Palaces.

The Upper and Lower Belvedere were built in the 18th century as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736).

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