Sunday, October 22, 2006

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.


Blogger Robert said...

Great post Chris. The patina is indeed a bit shocking but a little reminiscent of Versailles.

October 24, 2006  
Anonymous marly said...

I hopped here from Joy in Life and was sucked in by frivolity of glass, fell downward, and now really must tear myself away from these delightful dragons and and air- or earth-bound figures and "bumptious" cupids. Or I will never get my work done!

Very delightful for those of us who live in the boonsticks to take a ramble elsewhere.

November 14, 2006  
Blogger chris miller said...

Frivolity ? Yes !

I think we're both engaged in the serious pursuit of frivolity -- and I love the way you write.

November 14, 2006  
Anonymous marly said...

Serious frivolity: I like that. In fact, I think I've pilfered it. I've been reading Yeats all week and thinking about "tragic joy"--"serious pursuit of frivolity" makes a good companion for that one.

Thank you for the compliment. I rooted around and found where you stow your e-sculpture and drawings, so make that mutual esteem!

November 14, 2006  

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