Sculptural Objects & Functional Art - 2006
I read somewhere there was lots of figure sculpture in this year's S.O.F.A. show (Sculptural Objects & Functional Art)-- so I had to grab the camera and go. Was there any chance I'd find something as wonderful as the above ceramic tableaux from 18th C. Spain ? Hah !
It turned out that -- just like last time I went --- the star of the show was the glass --
Glass -- glass -- more glass - the above three pieces by Marvin Lipovsky being my over-the-top favorites. Want to take one home ? That will set you back $35,000 (and commit you to a lifetime of dusting)
The figure sculpture was terrible -- the above being the best I could find -- and all of it a tribute to the collapse of the sculptural tradition.
Because this is not an "Art" show -- it's not supposed to be ugly-confrontational-depressing-provocative etc -- things are supposed to look good (i.e. decorative) --- and though there clearly is a desire to look at figures -- there isn't an art for making them that way.
Here's the prince of American glass, Dale Chihuly -- these pieces are 25 years old -- and notice how they're a bit less overstated -- but still expressing a love of excess.
Here's a Chihuly piece all by itself -- offering a nice, quiet aesthetic moment.
But there are also pieces by other artists that even quieter -- like this one called "Rain" -- perfect for a nice, high-end waiting room
Actually - I think the figures in these little tableaux are my favorites in the show -- they belong in their space (instead of assaulting it)
Isn't this scene beautiful ? How can anyone see this and still have a bad day ?
Actually -- there was another figure that I liked -- this Inuit piece by Ovilu Tunnillie. The stone is so beautiful -- the figure just melts away while looking at it.
Biology was one of my favorite high-school classes -- because micro-life can be so beautiful -- and that's how this piece feels.
Just like looking through the microscope -- without having to squint
Here's the most expensive set of glass I saw -- $350,000 for a wall-full -- by Lino Tagliapietra.
It just seems to be a lot to pay for what is basically a colorful bauble -- like the glass marbles we collected as kids -- just a lot bigger.
Maybe it's all the Japanese literature I've been reading -- but I'm preferring this Japanese aesthetic by Naomi Shioya
who also made these mysterious chairs. It follows the principle that the quiet voice is the one that commands the most attention.
Can you tell this glass was made by an Australian ? (Carmac Boydell) Maybe I couldn't have guessed it -- but it sure seems to have that masculine, agressive energy of the land down under.
Moving on to ceramics -- this was one of the few traditional objects I could find (by Michael McCarthy)-- as well as the least expensive (under $300)
And this was the most humorous piece I could find -- how can you look at this and not begin laughing ?
And once again, it's the Japanese aesthetic that seems the most attractive to me - although it would require the proper setting to be effective (a spot in a clean, empty room -- all by itself)-- otherwise -- it's just another piece of junk.
Something is so relaxing about this item.
Oops -- almost forgot about one more figure sculptor -- Dana Major Kanovitz -- and her dream visions of humans as elegant insects. O.K. -- maybe not my favorite genre -- but it has the sharp, cleaness of jewelry.
These things are so much fun -- it's hard to be too critical --- but comparing these high-priced decorative items to the high-end things made in other eras -- it's pathetic.
This is an esthetic of baubles -- big -- showy -- attention grabbing.
And some genres were completely absent -- like table-size classical bronzes -- or figures in wood or ivory. And what about ceramic figurines -- I mean ones that try to be elegant instead of comic/bizarre/goofy ? Why wasn't Lladro here ? (or others like them ?) What about imitation Mayan figure or Tang figures or Ming vases? We know that there are experts in imitating these styles in the counterfeit trade -- why can't these items be sold as up-front modern pieces ? I mean --- we're not talking about the museum artworld here -- just things that look good.
And why so much emphasis on glass ?
Because it's as surface-centered and fragile as our urban professional lives ?