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Ries 03-02-2008 02:00 PM

Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Big brou-ha-ha in So-Cal.
Oldenburg was commissioned to do a big piece for the Disney Music Center in LA.
Evidently after doubling the budget, its still not done, everybody is pointing the finger at everybody else, and Oldenberg wants to spend $350,000 on an engineer just to analyse the problem and suggest solutions-,3755190.story

jOe~ 03-02-2008 02:18 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

The suit accuses Oldenburg and Van Bruggen of negligence, breach of contract and unjust enrichment and adds an allegation of fraud against Carlson & Co.,
"Unjust enrichment", can't get that phrase out of my mind. Makes me think of Exxon.

fritchie 03-02-2008 05:12 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
For once I don't blame the lawyers. Based solely on the LA Times article it seems the Center and its staff did about everything reasonable to get this project done. Probably hubris on the part of Gehry and advancing age and illness of the artists are the main causes.

Ries 03-03-2008 10:07 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I think there is more going on here than is explained in this little article.
Carlson, the fabricator, is one of the biggest and most experienced art fabricators in the world, and have extensive experience both in actually making art, and in dealing with prima donna artists.

So how the budget had to double, and then the piece is still falling apart is beyond me.

Although Dennis Oppenheim is actually having a similar problem with one of his pieces, also fabricated by Carlson- the budget keeps going up, the piece is behind schedule, and so on.

I have been involved in the fabrication of a good 20 plus projects of large scale sculpture, none in this budget range, but all for a good chunk of money, with required drawings in advance, engineering, and similar issues as this- and I just dont see how its rocket science- you figure out what you are going to build, engineer it, and get bids, before you start, and then you build it- so my suspicion is that the problem here is personality, not mechanics.

grommet 03-03-2008 02:46 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I too proceed with the assumption that if I can imagine it, it can exist. Granted my imaginings have remained under 12 feet tall, but it's worked so far for this non-engineer. Is it possible the imaginings have exceeded the engineering? How can that be?

fritchie 03-03-2008 06:08 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

Originally Posted by grommet (Post 53895)
I too proceed with the assumption that if I can imagine it, it can exist. Granted my imaginings have remained under 12 feet tall, but it's worked so far for this non-engineer. Is it possible the imaginings have exceeded the engineering? How can that be?

Look at the Space Station. Yes, if it can be imagined it can be built, but sometimes at highly escalating cost. On the other hand the two little Mars Rover scooting robots have been scooting for something like 4 years now, taking great pictures and making various weather observations. They had a design lifetime of something like a month.

The Space Station involves something like 6 - 10 principal national contributors. The Rovers were designed by one team, built by another, launched by a third, and are being tracked and guided/talked to by more or less the design and launch groups. All requiring close coordination, but much simpler overall.

Merlion 03-04-2008 02:37 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

Originally Posted by Ries (Post 53889)
I think there is more going on here than is explained in this little article. ...

... my suspicion is that the problem here is personality, not mechanics.

This info is from the blog linked below.
"At the bottom of things, I would guess, is the fact that Coosje van Bruggen has cancer. Were my own wife in the same situation, everything about my work would be affected."
Tough time for Coosje van Bruggen, Claes Oldenbury, and The Lost Angeles Music Center

And this is picture of the maquette of the 'Collar and Bow sculpture, taken from the link below.

Tie Goes to the Dumpster

GlennT 03-04-2008 07:43 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I think where everyone ran into trouble was when it was decided to advance this project beyond the maquette stage.

evaldart 03-04-2008 08:01 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I like Oldenberg, he's not one of my heros, but once upon a time he changed art history. So he has friends in very high places and the world continues to yearn for his humongous one-liners...none of these mean anything to me anymore, but I think very fondly back to the days of deflated vinyl toilets and drumsets and the pictures in my mind of him up all night with needle and thread in a cold-water flat in SoHo. Liek Ries said, I suspect this to be a battle of ego's and the throwing-around of seven-figure waistlines.

marblecutter 03-04-2008 09:13 AM

Sculptor as One-Man-Band
1 Attachment(s)
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.:)

dssoup 03-05-2008 10:31 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Though Carlson & Co. has worked with many Artists, they have not fabricated any projects for Dennis Oppenheim.

Ries 03-05-2008 11:20 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
The simple authority with which Mr. Soup says that leads me to believe he is associated with Carlson, and knows of what he speaks.

I was evidently mistaken about Oppenheim- but now I cant find the article I read about an Oppenheim sculpture that is not finished, and is also entangled in lawsuits.

I will have to dig around a bit, as I thought it was being built by Carlson.

Personally, I generally like Oldenburg sculptures, and feel they are far from "one liners".
The best of them are much more than just enlargements of everyday objects- I particularly like the lipstick tank at yale, the latticework baseball bat in Chicago, the swiss army knife ship, the balancing tools in germany, the screwarch in the netherlands- all of which take objects and give them life, taking them much farther than "still".

And in person, even his more literal pieces tend to sing.

Maybe someday somebody will write an investigative journalism piece about the travails of this piece- I can understand how right now, given lawsuits pending, nobody wants to talk on the record.

fused 03-05-2008 02:55 PM

Re: buoy named sue
It's obvious that commissions built by people other than the ARTIST always drive up the cost in all ways, but it's still hard to fathom that $2.2 million bucks couldn't get this project brought to a satisfactory conclusion. I'm wondering if the additional costs reported are directly related to the increase in scale of the original idea from 35 feet to 65 feet? Plus $600,000 for additional engineering?
Holy Crap!
thankyou for the additional links Merlion

GlennT 03-05-2008 03:49 PM

Re: buoy named sue

Originally Posted by fused (Post 54037)
Plus $600,000 for additional engineering?

Simple engineering equation:

$15,000 actual engineering costs
$45,000 liability insurance
$550,000 villa in the Isle of Capri the engineer has been eyeing
__________________________________________________ _____


Ries 03-05-2008 04:00 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Obviously Glenn has never hired an engineer.
Villas? They think in terms of new pocket pencil protectors.

The european guys Oldenburg wants to hire are ridiculously overpriced, its true.
But there are several really great engineers out there, who have lots of experience with sculpture, who are totally honest, reasonably priced, and whose designs are possible to build on a budget.
I have worked with several I would, and have, trusted my life and my assets to.

In fact, usually the problems that cause sculptures to come in over budget on behind schedule are due to the ARTIST, not the engineer.
Artists tend to have unrealistic ideas of what materials can and cannot do, especially as the artist gets more successful and the project gets bigger.

Working with a good engineer, you optimise the design so that BOTH structure and aesthetics are given attention.

Its easy to snipe at big projects- but they are complicated, and its impossible to do em all by your lonesome- you must learn to delegate authority, find and trust people like engineers and fabricators, and then learn enough about the process so that you use other people to make your art better, and not let them make it worse.
This takes time, experience, and a lot of energy- something that is undoubtedly hard to do if you are dying of cancer.

GlennT 03-05-2008 04:58 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Actually Ries, I have hired an engineer, more than once in fact. My background was as an architectural designer and construction manager before I discovered my artistic abilities.

Now, I'm wondering, have you ever paid an engineer $600,000 for a project? How about $60,000? I could get a lot of engineering calculated for $60,000.

evaldart 03-05-2008 06:16 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
There is , as there should be, a point where something is either too large to be art anymore - or too small to be art anymore. I suppose it has to be up to each artist to define these parameters not only for his own work but for the work he happens to have to address in general. Things too big, expensive and complicated too easily resemble the stuff of movie sets, amusement parks and architecture. The teams of braniacs and laborers, both skilled and unskilled, only serve to dilute with efficiency, and spread-thin with pheasability the cleverness that may or may not have been present in the origins of the thing. If the subject of the work becomes its size, then it is the wrong size. I suspect many of Oldenbergs works would have been more effective if they were smaller and less expensive. There are kinds of limitations and thresholds that keep things in the realm of Art and not fluff.

Richard Serra understands all this perfectly. His work is just the right size.

Ries 03-05-2008 08:05 PM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Evaldart, you may not think its art if its too big, but other people might.

I, for instance, maintain that both the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore are "Art". In each case, there was an artist, who had a career behind him of sculpture, with a solid grasp of making sculptures himself, who realistically realized that help was essential.

Each of us gets to make the decision for ourselves what is too big, and where to draw the line.
Obviously, many people, including people who pay for them, consider Oldenburg's sculptures to be Art.

Regardless, the issue here is not size- its management.
And I can certainly understand why many artists steer clear of projects so big they require more management than creativity.
But if your vision is large, you have to have help.

Personally, I have not spent $60,000 on an engineer on one project, although my wife has been involved in a couple of projects where the client paid much more than that for engineering and engineering integration with the building for her work.
Engineering is billed by the hour, and its usually pretty transparent- not a lot of room for villa's in Italy in most engineer bills I have paid.

I have hired quite a few engineers over the years, many times for quite reasonable amounts, usually to draw and stamp the design I give them to begin with. Although I do rely on engineers for footings, and seismic calcs.

Good engineers are a bargain, in my book. As Glenn pointed out, they carry insurance, actually usually errors and ommissions, not straight liability, but they also are licenced with the state, and therefore help to get seemingly wild sculptural ideas accepted by big money people. This is a comfort to the client, and even though I KNOW I can build a solid piece, structurally, the engineer acts as a traditionally accepted assurance to the client that the artwork will stand up.

An engineer who can engineer an artwork is a whole nother beast from a guy who looks up beam spans in a book, for a home addition. My main engineer worked for years for Ove-Arup, the premier international firm, is an expert in cable structures, and has worked with some of the biggest artists out there. He is a delight to work with, and worth every penny I pay him (or dont, when I trade him furniture for his patio...)

evaldart 03-06-2008 05:53 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Ries, I don't think we all need to disclaim at the start of every post that "the views following are the views of one particular artist and are not meant to be read as an attempt to propogate said views through verbal assertion or to proclaim ownership of an idea or set of values."
You always make perfect sense, and usually sound right in whatever you address, and have more than once influenced my thinking on a topic...But often I am suspicious of things that seem too "right" or sensible or graspable or generally acceptible.
To ME, the Statue of Liberty, Rushmore, the mountain-sized Crazy Horse, the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids, and the ninth wonder of the world - the Pulaski Skyway - are all NOT Art. Mesmerizing and powerful visual treats, yes, but not art to me.
Now I'm not saying that one needs to smelt the metal, drive the diesel truck from the factory, wrestle the tons off alone (though that is what I do) in order for it all to be authentic. But a very personal relationship to the stuff of the Art and the ensuing processes should be pursued, vigorously captured and then utilized, DESPITE all physical, financial and technical limitations. Involving and paying jobbers too heavily here for their expertise in the relieving of your stresses and anxieties and doubts will definitely affect how the thing looks. And in the end "how it looks" is the most important effect the Artist can have.

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.

jOe~ 03-06-2008 07:43 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

To ME, the Statue of Liberty, Rushmore, the mountain-sized Crazy Horse, the Eiffel Tower and the pyramids, and the ninth wonder of the world - the Pulaski Skyway - are all NOT Art.
So if the gigantic metal woman that holds so much symbolic meaning for hundreds of millions of people, possibly more than any other sculpture, that has been seen by more people than any other statue in the world, were smaller and situated in a white room, might it then be art? If the gigantic stone monuments that.... get my drift? Yeah I know you emphasized "to ME", but I suspect a momentary lapse in your normally generous definition of art has occurred. Did you get up too early and post before your jug of coffee?

evaldart 03-06-2008 08:09 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
Joe, I would contest that I have a broader view of what could be accepted as Art than most...but "symbolic meaning to millions of people" is often achieved by entities that have nothing at all to do with Art or even anything creative at all. So it needn't be part of the definition. I know many people who melt as they approach Fenway Park. Symbol is a tool of history, and we artists/writer/musicians,etc., borrow it sometimes to beef up our work...but symbol is not enough to carry the art matter how excessively viewed and adored. The best Art risks meaninglessness, flirts with confusion and tantalizes with the prospect of the unforseen. None of that will arrive by the over-orchestrated proceedings of the pheasablity committee that gives us our "artified" skylines, as impressive and wondrous as they may be.

And yes, I had not yet had my morning dose of strong coffee and death metal. So maybe I'm making more sense now...but maybe not.

jOe~ 03-06-2008 08:16 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

The best Art risks meaninglessness, flirts with confusion and tantalizes with the prospect of the unforseen....maybe I'm making more sense now...but maybe not.
Even less sense....non sense. And I am being gentle.

evaldart 03-06-2008 08:29 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
All right, more coffee and I'll turn the Cradle of Filth up a bit louder and try again later.

GlennT 03-06-2008 08:32 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits
I'm thinking that maybe the cradle of filth is causing the problems here!

jOe~ 03-06-2008 08:34 AM

Re: Oldenburg Sues/Everybody Sues/ Sculpture Sits

Cradle of Filth

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

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