Friday, May 30, 2014

Wooden Horses

As it turns out -- I've become a big fan of Deborah Butterfield - a woman my age who managed to combine a passion for both horses and making sculpture.

Her art is like flower arranging -- only much larger --- which would suggest topiary -- except that the plant material she uses is no longer growing.

Maybe we could call it a kind of basket weaving.- like the Japanese piece shown above

If the pieces weren't so large and daunting, making them might be considered a craft.

When she started out, the finished pieces were still comprised of plant material.

But that stuff disintegrates - and  tiny branches break - so now it's all been cast in bronze -- covering each stick with a ceramic mold and then burning out the wood.

For whatever reason, this is one kind of art that does not translate well in photography.

It' s much more exciting live -- where the large pieces measure the same space the viewer is standing in.

But I haven't got room to display a piece (even if I could afford it), so I'll have to settle on these photos.

I love this area of detail -- but so many other areas are delightful as well.

As in her horse riding (she's in the highest ranks of dressage) she has set a very high standard for herself-- and does not perform below it.

Another great torso.

When I first saw these pieces, I assumed that they were made of wood -- she has taken such great care with imitative patination.

But the thick dead leaves in the above piece broke the spell of the illusion.

How dramatic! How Romantic!

The reclining horses, like the one above, reminded me of this conceptual sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago:

Charles Ray, "Hinoki"

But Ray's piece, carved by craftsmen to his specification,  made me want to look at a real rotting log - while Butterfield's make me wish for nothing else.,

One piece in this show was made from scrap metal.

It was still charming -- but not as wildly expressive as the ones designed with wood.