Robert Berks: Linnaeus
What a fun discovery ! There, at the end of our day at the Chicago Botanical Garden, we stumbled upon a genuine grotesque emerging from the trees and shrubs.
This thing is huge -- rough -- and monstrous -- just like those terrible giants that lurk in grottos in Italy -- fitting in scale and texture for its natural surroundings.
And quite appropriate, I think , for its subject, Carolus Linnaeus, the Swedish botanist who established a method of naming all the plants that ever have, and ever will, be found by botanists just like this one -- who wander through the wild muck to find something that no one has ever found before.
I'd seen photos of this sculptor's (Robert Berks) work before -- specifically his equally monstrous Albert Einstein, and was appalled more than impressed.
But in person -- in this setting -- this piece captured and rewarded my attention.
And look at this face -- it's sensitive and intelligent -- just what I would want to see on a creature that size stumbling out of the woods.
From some back views -- this piece just seems to be a jumble of big rotten logs
But that's alright -- that's what you expect to find in the woods -- rotten old logs -- or moss encrusted rocks.
It feels like junk - but junk that grew, not junk that was left behind.
It's very different from the kind of sculpture that I usually like -- there's no way that Robert Berks is ever going to model a beautiful young nude -- and I'm also not sure that his work belongs within the rectangular, refined spaces of an interior.
But out in the sun -- among the things that grow and scurry -- yes, this is where it belongs (and I guess I also like the idea of great scientists as monsters )
Subsequent to posting the above, the noble Sir Gawain has shown me two more statues of Linneaus -- the first from his home town, Lund, and the second by the American sculptor, Rosalind Cook
Not having seen either one -- I think I'll withold judgement -- except to note that I wouldn't incude either one of these photos on my sculpture website.