Saturday, January 15, 2011

Berthold Nebel : The Wrestlers

I'm not really a fan of
Berthold Nebel (1884-1964)

He didn't do much more
than what his clients required.

But I am interested in
this youthful work,
done in 1915
while he was a fellow
at the American Academy in Rome

Influenced by Rodin and Bourdelle,
it regrettfully shows a promise
that was never fulfilled.

But since nobody has yet posted
its image to the internet,
well... here it is.

Here's another piece done
about the same time in Rome
by another fellow
in the American Academy,
Albin Polasek.

(and I also prefer it
to his later work
done in America)

And while we're looking
at male nudes
done by young Americans
in that period,
we've got the above piece
done 15 years earlier
by George Grey Barnard (1863-1938)

(though it's not a really fair comparison
since the photographer of the above
was so much kinder to his subject)

And here's best treatment
of the subject.

Antonio Pollaiolo (1429-1498)

Next to his,
most other sculptures
of wrestling men
just look lumpish.

Vicenzo Di Brossi

Especially this one.

Philippe Magnier

But this one
is elegant

What is it
about Roman/Hellenistic pieces
that is so distinctive?
(this one is dated to 1st Century BCE)

The contours are so exciting.

It crackles with energy.

This piece
could make any place
feel like a palace.

While this piece
actually was made
for a palace (in Vienna)

I get exhausted
just looking at it.

Would this one look so good
if the fountain
and palace
were not in
the picture?

There are many versions
of this tableaux,
and this is the
best one I've found so far.

It looks like
"ultimate fighting"

more like
two dancers

looks like ballet,
but I like
its elegance

Another piece of evidence
for Paul Manship
being one of the
great sculptors
of the last century.

The swirling cape
makes it so cinematic.

Are these stunt men?

This is a better phtograph
of a version of the Di Brossi piece
which has been copied
many times
(the one I first saw
was about 8" high)

feels a bit too

This one's in
a park in Amsterdam.

It's obviously 20th C.,
but no sculptor
has been credited
with it.

Here's Nathan Rapoport's
Jacob wrestling with the Angel.

Obviously, the angel
has a significant advantage.

I LOVE Waino Aaltonen.


Blogger Lori Witzel said...

Oh, Great Smart Dude of Sculpture...I have a mystery on my hands. Do you know who carved the Three Graces that appears at the Indianapolis Museum of Art?

See here:

January 17, 2011  
Blogger chris miller said...

Apparently this attribution has stumped people far more expert than myself!

My guess is that it was commissioned from one of the workshops that made cemetery and garden sculpture.

That trade was booming around the turn of the century and their studios were full of talented, though now anonymous, European immigrants.

And it was probably a team effort.

One guy designed it, another carved the heads, someone else did the drapery, etc.

January 18, 2011  
Blogger Michael Keropian said...

Hi Chris,

I think you write-off Berthold Nebel way too quickly. He could be considered a working sculptor all his adult life. Won the Prix to Rome when you had to be a good sculptor to win, and worked with many of the finest architects of his time.
It isn't every sculptor's whim to just do commission work for clients, nor do many have wives who can support them, but it is a way to stay in the game.
Something you may not know about Nebel was he patented the best manual enlarging/reducing machine ever created. Because of this he was often asked to enlarge the work of his peers (i.e. James Earl Frazer) and thus many of them prevented or likely kept him from more creative commissions he may have been awarded. The National Sculpture Society of which he was a Fellow had a small group of sculptors that generally got the big commissions; and they wanted to keep it that way.
I have a pretty good idea of what he may have been going through after spending over thirty years in the field myself.
Mike Keropian Keropian Sculpture

December 11, 2013  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks, Mike, for the information about Nebel. My hat goes off to every artist who hazards a career in public sculpture - even if I like so little of what gets made.

December 11, 2013  

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