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Old 01-28-2008, 04:46 AM
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Cantab Cantab is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Cambridge, England
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Re: Marc Quinn's foetus sculptures

Sorry, guys. This looks dreadful. If we take the foetal representation first of all – what exactly has Quinn done here? Like his Alison Lapper, he has produced another characterless piece of carving. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, the Lapper piece had all the character of the work that Italian stone workshops produce (where the Lapper piece was itself made, and where YOU can have anything you want carved at will, to the highest technical quality. You don’t even have to turn up – just send pics). These are guys who are craftsmen but they are stone masons because they are NOT artists. Unless the artist can shape that process, then the work ends up as a piece of bland representation, and no amount of clever stuff with the type of stone (here the veining and colour) will change that. Henry Moore used the stonemason yards at Pietrasanta (where Quinn goes), but everything Moore had done was channelled through his own personal STYLE and that impacted on the carving through to finishing and texturing (at the level of finish, texturing, scratching and lining are important elements of the Moore style). Quinn has no style – the Lapper piece and these pieces are STYLE FREE, in the same way the work of the monumental mason who produces elaborate memorials is style-free. And the reason for this is simple: all the great sculptors bring more than ideas to the stone. Michelangelo, referred to in the post 1 article, developed a ground breaking style of representation of the human form. It was not just classicism reborn, it was something new. His work is also unique in terms of finish – the use of the claw chisel, for instance, and the work deliberately left unfinished because of a developing love of the unworked stone. The character of the artist is imbedded in the stone through individual technique and elements of style, quite apart from the sets of ideas and emotions pursued.

As for the references in post 1 to Michelangelo: give me a break. The foetus struggling out of the stone? A cute little idea, and worth about sixty seconds’ contemplation. For Michelangelo, the relation of the stone to the emerging carved figure was a profound one, as well as being a metaphor for the relation of artist/carver to the stone. Michelangelo loved the PROCESS of carving – the banging away, the cutting, the elaborate claw work that is like a kind of drawing in stone, the play of light that illuminates form, etc. These Quinn foetus’ CAN only succeed at the level of idea (if they do succeed at all) because they have not been born out of the artist’s struggle with the stone and the artists’s attempt to impart personality into stone. And to extend a foetal metaphor, Michelangelo’s work was born out of his labour, his character as a carver, his WORK on the stone. It wasn’t just a clever idea on the drawing board, or in Quinn’s case, the computer program. For, in the end, this work looks like art that was designed with the bland formulas of the graphics program, not a living artist with a long-standing relationship with either drawing or stone. It’s an insult to artists like Michelangelo to compare them.

Last edited by Cantab : 01-28-2008 at 05:25 AM.
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