Thursday, December 22, 2005

Sculpture exhibit from my website

I repent trashing all the sculptures shown in my last post, so now I'll write about some contemporary sculpture I like -- and have chosen for my internet gallery (once again, because this kind of thing will never be exhibited at a major museum like the Art Institute)

Isabel McIlvain is an art professor somewhere on the east coast -- and I got this picture from a gallery before she left it. Yes -Isabel is a realist-anatomy freak--bringing her forms very close to the model's -- and yet -- she picks beautiful young bodies and then organizes them with a stately, dreamlike, cold perfection that I find solemn and delicious. This is the most classical of classical sculpture: realism and idealism inseparable. There are no forms in a real body - since every shape melts into the next-- and she's caught that melting -- even as she's made a nice little piece of 18th century chamber music.

If Isabel is Periclean -- Diana Moore is archaic-- with the healthy, young hero (or in her case, heroine) staring straight ahead with the calm confidence of eternal youth. This female Kore has climbed straight out of the 5th century BCE - as simple and indestructible as the iron in which she's cast. Diana (appropriately named) makes virgin goddesses - and woe to the man who stumbles accross them when they've pulled off their rusty clothes.

Nicholas Africano makes glass sculpture - so one of the effects, perhaps not seen in this picture, is translucency -- which furthers the dreamy other-worldliness of his gentle figures. His standing statues have too-thick ankles to accomodate the glass -- but a nice, cushy chair is just right for them. His girls are ghosts, not goddesses -- but the good kind of ghosts from Chinese folk-stories that seduce young, impecunious scholars in lonely, remote villages.

Vartkes Barsoumian is an Armenian-Syrian sculptor in the tradition of 20th century Armenian -- and therefore Soviet-- sculpture. This piece is a puzzle isn't it ? The head is a serious old man -- the body is a don't-fool-with-me old woman. The character seems both severe and maternal - and yet there's a kind of whimsical lightness about him/her. He seems so real -- but it's the reality of personality, not of physical anatomy. It's a full body-language portrait of a distinct personality -- made to feel important -- but also made to feel beloved. The title of it is "My Father" -- and if I were assembling an exhibit of great portrait sculpture of the world, I might begin with Akhenaten, and end with Barsoumian.

I have no idea what Hanneke Beaumont's figures are doing -- they look bewildered within some profound circumstance -- serving as memorials to important events thatnobody has ever heard of. I guess that qualifies her as post-modern so gets into contemporary galleries -- but she also gets into mine. Maybe I'd call her a social (but not a socialist) realist -- because this is how urban office workers appear to me when I see them on the train platforms. This particular fellow seems to be walking in the treacherous landscape of his dream-world -- possibly anxious about his job at the bank.

(I first saw the above two sculptors at the now-defunct annual Navy Pier Art Fair)

I am grateful to my friend, Bernard Charpentier, for sharing his photos of this Russian sculptor, Viktor Korneev. (as a diplomat, and sculpture fanatic, Bernard takes his camera to a lot of distant places). Korneev is an outstanding graduate of Soviet art education -- but he didn't stop working when the empire crumbled, and it looks like he's turned in the Italian direction -- like Emilio Greco or Marino Marini. A warm, Mediterranean breeze has reached the Baltic shores of Petersburg -- and let's all dance with the inner rhythms of sensuality !

Tom Tsuchiya was sent by the sculpture gods to be my aging father's first, last, and only real student -- combining an oriental devotion to mastery with an abundance of talents -- and only he, so far as I've seen, has created a vision of contemporary social life that is both positive and realistic -- making him the ideal sculptor for an ancient faith (Roman Catholicism) that wants to make that faith evident in the contemporary world. He's got the power and gentle inner swing of the great sculpture made for Buddhism and the Hindu sects, as well as Christianity -- but like the great Japanese-American before him, Isamu Noguchi, who also started out in European classicism, he may well end up making Zen sculpture -- or will his subject matter progress from the mascots and donors to a Jesuit university (and the baseball heros of the Cincinnati Reds) up to the saints, the Virgin, or even the Savior himself? People with great talent have many options.


Blogger Crescendo said...

Beautiful pics and interesting topics.
Happy New Year !

December 27, 2005  
Anonymous marly said...

Hi Chris,

Back for a little gallery-hopping. I enjoyed this and the prior post a good deal: lots of illumination. Unlike your 'fan,' I love the idea of "amateur" maker, unfettered and free to speak.

And I like the way you describe these pieces. "Delicious" and "solemn" is a combination that anybody who has ever supervised a young child in the bath can understand. (It's too bad we don't believe in the ravishing loveliness of our own youth until it is gone.) Kore: strikes me as exactly right, as does the Marini comparison. And this "dreamy" glass figure makes a wonderful contrast to the November '06 one. I really like the way you described the Beaumont piece, too--well, it's all interesting.

November 16, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

It's so good to hear from you Marly.

I've been doing a little gallery hopping myself lately -- reading your blog -- your poems -- and visiting the sites of your artist friends -- and your friends'friends - until -- in dazed delirium - I loose track of who led me where.

BTW -- you found me through Amanda - but how did you find Amanda ?

Anyway -- I especially like your stories -- and pictures -- of your sweet and handsome ancestors. Sadly -- our great-great grandparents were on opposite sides of a certain national dispute (mine marched on Vicksburg) -- but if what we have now is a culture war -- I think we're carrying the same flag.

Recognizing you as my favorite kind of American (the Southern Lady)--- and that you're a visual person -- all of your responses to the things I show- what you like or don't -- will be much appreciated.

November 16, 2006  
Anonymous marly said...

Thought that I would look at a few more pictures before toddling off to bed. I'm going to work my way forward from the beginning. I'll put on a rose-colored leisure suit, and you put on the silver suit, and we'll sit on (in?) that extravagant Meissen thing with the Dragon Chickens (or whatever they are) and stick out our tongues. I'm glad your wife doesn't mind your museum-going escapades, because they're quite fun as vicarious outings.

Yes, I imagine it is the same unfashionable flag. The good old restoration of beauty and gusto and skills and shapeliness--the Dionysian exuberance and the Apollonian restraint, as I'd say to Amanda.

Actually, I found Amanda through you. I read something of yours--somewhere, not on one of your blogs--there were responses from her. Now I can't remember, as immediately I popped away to look at art, yours and hers.

I must go collapse, as I have a horribly busy weekend ahead. But I'm glad you have been wandering in my territory! This is the most delightful thing about the internet--rambling about in the company of interesting people. And it's always pleasing to find that one is not the only obsessed creature on the planet.

November 16, 2006  

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