John Putnam at La Granja de San Idelfonso
Here's my friend John Putnam -- and what follows are the photos he took (for me !) of sculpture at the royal Gardens of La Granja de San Idelfonso.
How could he have known that I would like this stuff ? How could I have known ? It's not as if 18th C. Spanish sculpture is very well known by anyone.
Try web searching the names of Renato Frémin (1672-1744), Jacques Bousseau (1680-1740)or Juan Thierry (??-??) --- and you're not going to find much.
Indeed, it seems that the figure sculptors of the late-Baroque are even more obscure than the figure sculptors I've been digging up from the 20th Century -- especially, I suppose, since they don't have descendants who post their works on the internet.
But here they are now -- in all their tasteless glory ! (and actually -- I think their taste is pretty good -- way, way above the sensational sculptors of today (Indians-wildlife-acrobats etc) -- because they still see sculpture as symphonic -- musical -- as something way quite different from the mere imitation of muscles, skin, and trousers.
A note concerning the (recently restored) shining, metallic patina: I like it (though John doesn't)-- because it adds to the over-the-top sense of indulgent fantasy. And isn't that why we -- royal guests -- came to this garden in the first place ?
These two equestrian cupids are probably my favorite pieces -- full of so much bumptuous life --- responding to a call that human ears will never hear.
I'm guessing that this outrageous confection is typical of the place -- and how can it not bring a smile to the face ? (In heavier, less talented hands -- this sort of thing is stomach-churning -- but here -- it's just delightful)
What a lovely pool ! Something about infants playing with giant fish -- it captures the infantile imagination of Europeans - but no one else -- and -- well -- I like it too.
There's the very fecund and stately ....
... and then there's the uttery bizarre.
I'm not sure this ambitious piece pulls together all that well -- but at least I like the top half.
While this thing is just about as nutty as it can be.
I guess the light and airbourne is the speciality of the Baroque -- that's why my father likes it -- and it has its moments.
It seems to say "I don't care -- I'm justing having fun" -- and who can argue with that ? (but it has to stay light -- and that's not easily accomplished)
But there's a problem -- I think - when they start working in stone (instead of bronze) -- because the carvers (who I think are different from the designers) just can't always keep the flow going - and things start feeling tight and pinched.
But not on this magnificent bowl -- with its noble, out-sized figures.
And I'll end the post with this tableaux -- that feels like it would be such a wonderful addition to any garden --- where, like the hand of God -- the sculptor has designed the rocks as well as the plants and the creatures that live there.