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Ries 03-06-2008 08:59 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Evaldart, I, personally, am not that different from you.
I make everything myself- the only subs I use are for finishing- painting, or galvanizing, and the like.

I do have two employees in my shop- but I do the hard parts on every piece, I insist on personally getting my hands dirty and making the physical, as well as mental decisions, so I will make one of something, then tell them to make the next hundred.
I bend the critical curves, or forge the tricky parts, I draw all the patterns and I make em take stuff apart and redo it all the time if I dont like the way it sits.
Many of the tools in my shop only I can use properly, and many many aspects of my work I must do myself, for the very reasons you state.

So I am certainly sympathetic to your viewpoint.

But- I cant see how you can say Gutzon Borglum or Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi were not artists- by every measure, including the ones you just laid out, they were- they each did tons of what you call art. In their own studios, with their own hands.
They each did life size busts, slightly larger than life size full body sculptures, some painting and drawing, they each showed in galleries and have their work in museums, and, in almost every way, resembled all other artists.
And then, they each made one or more very large sculptures- and they used every single thing they had learned in their whole life of making art, the same techniques of drawing, and modelling, and removing material or making clay models, just exactly like their small sculptures- only bigger.

Are you saying just because the works are big, and more people helped, they crossed some invisible line, and now their work is no longer art?

I just dont see it, myself.

I think you are, for your own personal reasons, obsessed with and satisfied to do everything yourself. Which is just fine, for you. But many other people make art differently. Doesnt make em not artists- just makes em not you. Which is a good thing, I think, both for you and for them.

As you point out, and I totally agree, the thing which makes art interesting (I wont say "good", as I think thats a relative term) is the decisions the artist makes when making the piece.
And I would agree with you totally that sending a napkin sketch out to the fabricator means the fabricator makes most of those decisions, and, in most cases, that makes the work much weaker. So I feel it is absolutely essential for an artist to have an intimate understanding of the materials, from having worked with them for many years, and to make all important decisions themself.
Which, I think, both Borglum and Bartoldi did- each was 100% personally competent with their medium, and could, themselves, do every job better than any one of the tradesmen they hired. Each was present all along the way, making every important decision- Borglum lived at Mt. Rushmore for many years.
I would argue that to do this is much more important than to physically do every single task yourself.
If you control the outcome, its your art.

GlennT 03-06-2008 09:35 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I could not agree more with Ries. I think process is important only in so far as it works to create the best result. Bernini had a workforce of assistants helping him to keep up with all of the commissions. Which one of his sculptures would not be considered a work of art? Scale is not a factor in my mind either. Quality is. I think that Bartholdi and Borglum maintained quality in their projects. In contrast, that huge Maitreya buddha statue that is being built and was discussed on this forum some months ago, lacks a quality that from my perspective would qualify it as art, in the way that certain mass-produced small brass ones don't read as art either.

The current 3-d prototyping models we have seen thus far don't strike me as art either, because of the mechanized look that lacks soul. If and when the technology is no longer a limit to the expression of that intangible human element that I call soul, then I will admit to it being just another tool like a chisel that enables an artist to produce art.

evaldart 03-06-2008 10:45 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Well I am glad to have caused a meeting of the minds between Ries and Glenn - see what I mean about manipulating activities an the edges of the unforseen.:D

I understand that bona-fide "fine" artists are often responsible for these very large scale projects, but that resume or c.v does not always ensure that the result will be Art. It is a powerful motivator for and artist to command ownership of great amounts of attention...and nothing will get civilization to pay attention to you better than an undertaking of collossal scale. It would be a very hard opportunity to resist - with the danglings of fame and fortune that come along. It can be misconstrued, though, as personal creative progress... when in fact, a chore of such magnitude might well be a supreme distraction, a complete de-railing of an important creative philosophy...all in the name of what...?

I too, suffering by a Candide-like youthfulness, involved as many as 5 full time people, huge amounts of commercial and retail space in multiple locations, and soiled arhitects and engineers conference tables distributing a version of my creativity as widely as I could. There were some big budgets and a whole lotta rules, inspections and second-guessers. While those years put me in a position to be the kind of artist I now am, I do have regrets about HOW much of that time and energy was spent. I can make big things without them, because "big" is relative. As one-man operations go, I can work as big and heavy as anyone doing it (at least for a few more years). And I have come to realize that the Vegas boys and their ilk are not on an Art track. Another one, and a good one mind you, but they are servicing aspects of the human condition that genuine creative efforts will have nothing to do with. There are many ways to be amazed or blown away...but when a Rothko does it to you - you're truly changed.

BTW, I consider everything Antoni Gaudi was responible-for Art at the highest possible level - despite his status as a mere architect. And I'd pay a thousand bucks for one of Oldenbergs napkin sketches but might not notice the 100 foot safety-pin that I'm walking under (unless the gyro-cart is parked there).

Ries 03-06-2008 11:47 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Gaudi grew up in the household of a metalworker.

But unlike Borglum or Bartholdi, Gaudi COLLABORATED with some of the finest craftsmen the world has ever seen.
There is no doubt the Sagrada Familia or the Casa Batlo are Gaudi's work- but the ironwork, for example, was often made BETTER by the actions of individual craftspeople, who took Gaudi's ideas and ran with em.

Seems like from the singular genius channelling the creative juices of the universe perspective, Gaudi is actually a much worse argument than Borglum or Bartholdi.
They were artists, who used others to make their sculptures.
Gaudi was an architect who worked with woodworkers, blacksmiths, ceramic factories, tile setters, plasterers and masons, and allowed them to do their best work, and improve his.
Because he was in a mileau of so many great artisans, his work came out better- but he did not design every tile pattern in Parc Guell, or every scroll and weaving ribbon on those balconies on Casa Batlo- he actually GAVE UP complete control, and the work was better as a result.

It is refreshing to agree with Glenn, from time to time. Although you must remember, we both drink Kambucho...

Ries 03-06-2008 12:08 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Interesting article that relates to this in the Guardian-

jOe~ 03-06-2008 01:18 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
The best damn artistic statement ever written is Oldenburg's. Here is a small excerpt of the full text at /

Claes Oldenburg

I am for an art that is political-erotical-mystical, that does something other
than sit oil its ass in a museum.

I am for an art that grows up not knowing it is art at all, an art given the chance of having a starting point of zero.

I am for an art that embroils itself with the everyday crap & still comes out on top.

I am for all art that imitates the human, that is comic, if necessary. or violent, or whatever is necessary.

I am for all art that takes its form from the lilies of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips, and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself.......

... I am for art that is put on and taken off, like pants, which develops holes, like socks, which is eaten, like a piece of pie, or abandoned with great contempt, like a piece of shit.

I am for art covered with bandages. I am for art that limps and rolls and runs and jumps.

I am for art that comes in a can or washes up on the shore.

I am for art that coils and grunts like a wrestler. I am for art that sheds hair.

I am for the art of bar-babble, tooth-picking, beerdrinking, egg-salting, in-sulting. I am for the art of falling off a barstool.

I am for the art of underwear and the art of taxicabs. I am for the art of ice-cream cones dropped on concrete. I am for the majestic art of dog-turds, rising like cathedrals.

evaldart 03-06-2008 01:54 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Oh yes Joe, I know THAT Oldenberg very well. This more recent Oldenberg could learn a lot from that one.

grommet 03-06-2008 06:01 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I think maybe what Mr E of Vald is missing in the monumental is the possibility of a serendipitous phuckup that results in something unexpected & fresh. To be lashed to the original vision reduces the creativity that Gaudi allows by letting people be his serendipitous tools.
Just a thought about how one gets from "A" to crystallized gobbet at pond's edge as opposed to "B".

GlennT 03-06-2008 06:37 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
It sounds like Oldenburg is not for any art that was made between 30,000 BC and 1913.

fused 03-07-2008 02:22 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I do appreciate the essence of... "The best Art risks meaninglessness, flirts with confusion and tantalizes with the prospect of the unforseen" and Claus Oldenburg's best art lives up to that standard.

The news of Coojie's health is sad and it's also discouraging to hear that a sculpture project with so much financial support has become a difficult situation for all of the people involved. Ivan Karp said "any press is good press" but that may not be applicable here, eh?

- - - - - - - - -

The subject of "who" actually makes the art, as well as who doesn't is intreguing to me. Damian Hirst has 168 employees and stated in an interview with Charlie Rose, that he doesn't have to make anything as long as he originates the idea. This is a concept that I do have a problem with as it blurs the imaginary boundary which I've always perceived as seperating artists from designers. It is my opinion that one source of bad art is people who do not develop ideas by actually working with a chosen material, but choose instead to bypass the learning process and experience by paying others to execute works. This tends to be a person of financial means and not one who actually devotes the time required to develop skills that can nurture a sculptural form into existance.

- - - - -

Have you seen Gaudi's sculpture Ries? Much in the spirit of Brancusi, I was told that he learned a lot about form, space and materials by working with his hands and getting dirty.

Ries 03-07-2008 11:22 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I have been lucky enough to have visited Barcelona several times, most notably in 1968 and 1984, before everything was cleaned up for the Olympics.
In those days, the attitudes were more relaxed, and I was able to wander freely throughout many Gaudi buildings, climbing the highest towers of the Sagrada Familia, ducking up onto the roof of one of his apartment buildings, sticking my head into the private lobby of another.

There was a dusty display of Gaudi drawings and models in the base of the Sagrada Familia, but even better, in 84 my wife and I knocked on the door of the little house in the Parc Guell, and were given a tour of Gaudi's home by a woman who said she had been his housekeeper. Since he died in 1926, she must have been in her 80's at least. All his furniture, knickknacks, and lots of original drawings and models were still there, seemingly as he had left them. I would guess there had been some curation over the years, but it still seemed quite authentic, and the old woman told great stories.

He did a lot of modelling in plaster and clay, and a lot of suspended string models, which he used to develop arch designs, using gravity to make the curves. Then the masons would have to figure out how to replicate these, right side up, in stone and brick.
I dont know how much he did that we would call "sculpture" himself, though- I think he drew, and talked the artisans thru, a lot of the sculptural elements on his buildings, but I am not aware of him personally sculpting much larger than models. I know on the Sagrada Familia, there were several noted sculptors who, all by their lonesomes, carved sculpture after sculpture of saints and human figures, and Gaudi just designed the niches they went in.

There is no doubt Gaudi was a genius, but he worked within a time and cultural place when a fair amount of other, similarly talented architects were also building amazing structures. In Barcelona, the work of Jujol and Puig, friends and contemporaries of Gaudi, is equally amazing, just not as well known. And in Brussels, with Horta, or in Paris, or in Italy or Argentina, there were other great architects doing wonderful things.
There is an Art Nouveau skyscraper in downtown Montevideo, Uruguay, for instance, that is truly awe inspiring, the Palacio Salvo-
And you can buy an apartment there- for a mere $75,000

At the time, it was a unique cusp between the age of craftsmanship and the industrial revolution, and these artists took advantage of both to create art nouveau. There was a newly wealthy middle class worldwide that was willing to take chances, and a feeling of optimism of the new century that had yet to be dashed by the first world war.

In iron work particularly, something I study and practice, amazing things were done, when you could combine newly available technologies like power hammers, shears and punches, and oxy-fuel welding with master craftsmen who had trained their whole lives.

evaldart 03-07-2008 04:03 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
All I know is that there are rare occurences (like the ones referred to above) when it is quite obvious that a unique and individual vision was actually preserved and carried out gloriously. This is when "scale" can work for you. If I could figure out how to make something collossal without having anyone else ruining it, damn I would. It happens now and then.

By the way, my latest proposal to Socrates Park is incrementally directed toward that kind of progress. We'll see if they go for it.

fused 03-07-2008 05:43 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I didn't know about Gaudi's clay and plaster works. When I was in graduate school back in '79, there was a professor in the school of architecture that showed me a book that was nothing but wood carvings.

marblecutter 02-13-2015 09:24 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

Originally Posted by evaldart (Post 54086)

Yes the world needs gigantic structures for many different reasons, and I'm glad that people with fine art backgrounds are getting these gigs, but if they base their creative self-evaluations upon these types of projects they might be forgetting why they got involved in this kind of life in the first place. And that might be a good thing lost.

Yes indeed. Also those so called Big Gigs should be kept for local artists instead of outsourcing them, i.e, the MLK statue in Wash. DC

Andrew Werby 02-13-2015 02:43 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
How local would an artist have to be to satisfy you? Should a statue situated in Washington DC have to be made by someone living in DC? Would this residency requirement specify they were born there, or could they have moved in from someplace else?

Since you feel that a Chinese sculptor shouldn't have a chance to make sculptures in the USA, do you also feel that US-based sculptors shouldn't be allowed to make sculpture for the Chinese?

Are we really going to wall off each locality in the world, and declare that only sculptors living there can be eligible for large commissions in that place? There is a tendency to do that with public commissions, I know, but is that really what's best for the art of sculpture, or for the public at large?

Andrew Werby

marblecutter 10-22-2016 09:34 AM

Re: Sculptor as One-Man-Band

Originally Posted by marblecutter (Post 53933)
Many sculptors are getting way too much attention and entangling themselves in a web of contracts that they can not timely fulfill. Two examples: The fiberglass Alligators in the center of El Paso; the Denver Bronco in Colorado, both by Luis Jimenez; The Don Juan de Oñate equestrian at the El Paso airport by John and Ethan Houser, were all more than Ten Years Late. I was in China in 2006 for the 8th Changchun Sculpture Symposium. 47 monumental sculptures were completed in a matter of Months. All the metal and stone sculptures were done within the 40-day duration of the symposium and all the clay renditions were reproduced in fiberglass to be exhibited in the closing ceremonies. Those fiberglass figures were painted in the patina of the sculptor's choice. In a matter of months, more than thirty fiberglass sculptures were turned into durable bronze.
There is a contractual agreement between the sculptor and the person commissioning the work. The sculptor can file a law suit if the commissioner fails to pay in a timely manner and the sculptor can be held accountable for work that is delayed or not delivered at the agreed time.
Sculptors should tap into the pool of other sculptors who can help to meet deadlines and achieve the final goals. Thereby reaching a happy medium that benefits more sculptors than the originating few. Many sculptors work as a One-Man-Band or husband and wife band. When they get into contracts that require a whole Orchestra, they should perform accordingly.
A good example is Cristo and Jeannne-Claude. They get a whole community involved and employ the necessary talent.:)

I received an Email invitation from the French sculptor who created the "Qi" or Breath. She is having a workshop in her studio. In this photo, a large red balloon was one of many that were swaying to the rhythm of an early Fall breeze in the city of eternal Spring.

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