Saturday, May 05, 2007

The Virility of wood sculpture

Yesterday, I received the following email from Michael McConn -- one of my sculptor friends who has devoted his life to woodcarving.

It seems to address a topic I touched on in my last post -- concerning a certain quality (I'd call it virility) that I found missing -- even in some pieces (like the "Star" of Frishmuth) which I enjoy.

So.. here's his brief note -- along with some pictures posted for illustration

Hi Chris,

I have been studying some of the wood sculpture on your web museum.

Glicenstein is a really powerful sculptor

as is Matveyev

Of course Eldarov's wood bust is an absolute masterpiece.

I was also viewing some of your fathers work
( Oak Nude, Hercules Strangling Nemian Lion ) from the 1950's.

In my opinion, his work went to another realm when wielding the mallet and chisel. He truly was a great wood sculptor.Take a very close look at the face in Hercules , it is quite simply magnificent. All of the aforementioned examples are so rugged and virile.The prettified and flowery so in favor these days among so many leaves little room for this type of sculpture to be truly appreciated. It's all for the roses and nothing for the thorn to cite a Van Gogh lament. I do not understand why the Gawain's of the art world place such aesthetic emphasis on the " refined ' as opposed to the bold and brave gouge cut of an Omar Eldarov that is not tampered with the perfumed abrasions of a piece of sandpaper or a half dry painting brush.


Thanks for the email, Mike, and I certainly share your taste for this particular quality, which does seem to be so well served by the sharp chisel cutting planes on a wooden surface-- where you can really feel the crackling pulse of a man's mind and heart.

Wood carving in the fine arts had a renaissance in the 20th C.

While here's an example from another great time and place (Kamakura Japan)

What distinguishes the "bold and brave" from merely the brutish and ugly ?
What distinguishes the "refined and elegant" from merely the "prettified and flowery" ?

These are questions that aesthetes must try -- especially in our anti-aesthetic age -- to answer -- even if our answers end up being inadequate.


Blogger marlyat2 said...

It would be very interesting to overhear you and Michael McConn going at it--giving something for the thorn!

May 25, 2007  

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