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  #1  
Old 06-26-2003, 03:29 PM
Georges Georges is offline
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Question Figurative Sculptors Please move to the Back ...

Recently, I went to an Opening in New Hope, PA that featured the work of 35 sculptors (most were present) and figurative work was well represented.

When I asked one artist if she was a member of the ISC she responded: "But I'm a figurative sculptor!" as if I had asked a girl to join the "He-Man Woman Haters Club".

Taken a little aback I pointed out that a third of our over six hundred online Portfolio Sculptors do figurative work, Elizabeth Catlett is the ISC 2003 Lifetime Award winner, Seward Johnson is one of our biggest fans and Judith Shea is keynote speaker at ISC's first regional "mini-conference" in July - "Figuratively Speaking".

In any case, please weigh in on the question as to whether or not you feel figurative sculptors are an overlooked underclass or an undervalued elite. In the case of the above-mentioned sculptor it was very difficult to tell where she came down on the issue - but it was definitely one or the other.

Having met Tom Otterness, on the other hand, I can say with great confidence that he is neither. He was far from arrogant and well above false modesty. Granted, we would all love to do so well at what we love to do. Nevertheless, one usually finds that successful sculptors have inflated egos.

(And, I don't care what the "purists" say; Tom is a figurative sculptor. His allegory and satire put the essential power of the figure to great use even if his forms are akin to political cartoons.)
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  #2  
Old 06-26-2003, 09:28 PM
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Viewpoints

Georges - I like to come down on multiple sides of a question, so I'll say I think figurative sculptors are both an overlooked underclass and an undervalued elite, except that I’d put the elite part first.

We do tend to feel overlooked, but I think the times, they are achangin’.
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Old 06-27-2003, 02:50 PM
Georges Georges is offline
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Good Answer ...

As I have said before - I'm not a figurative sculptor.

However, when I was 8-10 and 15-18 I lived in Brussels and Geneva respectively. And my family took as much advantage of the proximity of these two cities to the great art of Western Europe as we could. Figurative sculpture and painting enriched my imagination (the television sucked) and liberated my parochial midwest Catholic schoolboy's soul.

Don't get me wrong, unlike Magritte, I believe their are more than one abstract painting (and, by extension, sculpture). And both the abstract and the conceptual can affect me both primally and intellectually. But only figurative work can reach me on a purely and wholly human level. It is figurative sculpture that best conveys parable, myth and allegory and compassion for the human condition. For we all move around in similar casings - no matter how much we exaggerate the distinctions.

So, I guess figurative sculptors have a right to feel they have a special space in the field of sculptural expression.
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Old 07-01-2003, 06:59 AM
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Re: Good Answer ...

Quote:
Originally posted by Georges
So, I guess figurative sculptors have a right to feel they have a special space in the field of sculptural expression.
Apparantly so. Just see how they have their own special board here... And judging by the serious naval gazing and fretting over relevance, it also appears that it is sorely needed.

Personally I couldn't take these sorts of concerns to the workbench with me. At least not without it seriously damaging my work.

-

I once heard that Calder refused to call his sculpture, sculpture (let alone abstract blah blah, or figurative). Using 'object' instead. A clever way to avoid defending what one does.

Unless of course, defending it, is part of it.
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Old 07-01-2003, 11:48 AM
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Metaphor

Dear George

Several of your threads have caught my eye: « figurative…seat », « Art vs. Craft”. and “Conception…”. How does one limit oneself to figurative, abstract, or conceptual? Is not the metaphor composed of the appropriate symbols and words? That is to say the message dictates the media, Mr. McClure (or McClain?). Although when I use found objects (see rderr.com “fond brun”) the material is the message.

And that brings Art vs. Craft. Of course “Art…is gibberish”. But when Art addresses only itself and does not evoke or provoke i.e. Art for Art’s sake is it not gibberish? Or Craft that is well made but useless is it not gibberish? Therefore I submit, the function of the artist is to use appropriately the material, craftsmanship, to construct the metaphor, art object.

In one of the threads partially deleted by the system failure you wrote, “I would rather be a sculptor than a furniture salesman…” I had hoped to show you a photo of a two armed chair that illustrates the conjunction art|craft. The chair as craft is comfortable and well made. The whimsy of the two arms, feet that are feet, and back that is back is provocative, a metaphor, art. I lend the chair to a friend that has a jazz café in down town Houston so that I can observe people’s reactions. Most go for the space between the oversized fingers as will a child setting on the lap of an adult. Sometimes, poor unfortunates, they freeze from unhealthy memories. Could that observation be considered “Conceptual” or “Performance Art”?

By the by I lived in Belgium for 28 years. Did you visit the park and museum at Mariemont near Charleroi? The last owners collected, among others, Rodin and lesser known Jeff Lambeau. Jeff’s “Temple to Human Sexuality” has not been open to the public for years
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Old 07-01-2003, 09:32 PM
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Navel gazing

Fair criticism, RH. Figurative sculptors have complained a lot here about lack of attention given to the field. In my experience (as a figurative sculptor, of course), this feeling and vocalization of it are widespread. I think it comes from being in a minority with regard to public commissions and the market in general.

“Abstract” sculpture today occupies the position of “the academy” or predominant authority against which Impressionist and other more modern artists fought in the late 1800's. What abstractionists did then, figurative artists are doing today.
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Old 07-02-2003, 02:51 AM
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Fritchie - thanks for not taking offence at what I wrote. I did consider editing it, but prefer not to re-write if possible.

When I think of public sculpture here in Sydney (a relatively young city of 200 years) and add up the work in my head, I would have to say that directly figurative sculpture dominates. I would guess this to be the case in older cities to an even greater degree...

Now of course, to be fair, the new work is abstract.

You make a good point. And it is not just here that this sensitivity exists. Last year I witnessed a near riot at a forum, because figurative work was more or less absent from the selected exhibtion the forum was to discuss.

Of great humor to me is that my own work is now extremely old fashioned. But believe me, I spend not one minute worrying over that.
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Old 07-02-2003, 09:58 PM
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More on navel gazing

Araich - Your “navel gazing” comment sent me off on some deeper thought last night. I don’t like to be a complainer, and I don’t think that has been a part of what I, at least, have been doing. It strikes me that the ISC is doing for sculpture as a whole just what these figurative sculptors have been doing - promoting education and awareness of figurative art. It’s not so much complaining as putting forth a call for more work in this vein.

It’s really not for me to expound on ISC’s mission, but that is the message I get from the publication and the web site - sculpture as an art form and as cultural expression is underilluminated and undervalued. I’ll go a little further on this point and say that I find portions of Sculpture magazine fairly embarrassing to the field. Specifically, many of the sculptures featured in advertisements.

The organization is not well-funded, as many similar organizations are not, and I know it has experimented in many ways over the fifteen or so years I have been a member, trying to pursue this mission more effectively. Right now, I think the publication quality and the art featured editorially are as good as I have seen, but I suppose the need for advertizing revenue overshadows esthetic judgement in this one way.
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Old 07-02-2003, 10:01 PM
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Public view of figuration

Araich - Here is another thought that came out of your criticism of figurative artists last night. I didn’t want this to get entangled with the remarks on ISC and Sculpture magazine.

It strikes me that figuration is suffering in a subtle way today which generally goes unremarked. That is, I think many sculptors of large public commissions for the last fifty years or have been treated by the media as craftspeople rather than as artists. This factor more or less coincides with the rise of nonrepresentational work, and I think the two are linked as cause and effect.

I think media have followed the tastes or fashions of the day, trying to be trendy themselves, and in doing so have undeservedly denigrated figuration. As example of what I mean, any knowledgeable person can identify more or less on sight a large sculpture from a century ago by Rodin, Carpeaux, Malliol, and a few others, and most people who follow art can identify Bourdelle, Lehmbruck, and other lesser-known artists. However, for about the last half-century the trend has been to celebrate and publicize the donor of the art or the cause of its creation rather than the artist.

As example, New Orleans is a celebrated international city and has in its downtown area three large bronzes of French, Spanish, and British figures, each donated by the respective country or one of its principal cities. The figures are Joan of Arc (France), Winston Churchill (Britain), and Bernardo de Galvez (Spain; he was probably the best of Louisiana’s Spanish governors). I may have missed something, but I examined each of these sculptures carefully a decade or so ago when I began sculpting seriously, in order to see who made them, and I failed to find the sculptor in each case.

The same thing has happened with more recent pieces. Media carefully note the sculptors of nonfigurative work when this is erected, but in almost all cases, ignore the sculptor of figurative pieces. As I say, I think the media are following the herd of art critics, and deliberately downplay figuration. Figurative artists seem to be placed in the same category as the engineers who certify structural integrity of a building, or the workers who erect it, and not in the creative category of architect or abstract sculptor.
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Old 07-06-2003, 11:21 PM
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Most of my sculpture is figurative, by which I mean only that it has a head and a tail to it, or some some aspect of a head or a tail, at least at some point during its making. In the process of making, I often become more interested in the abstract character of forms; something in the character of the material itself with which to "interact"; something which seems "new" and visually interesting; and I may abandon the intent to represent the figure or to represent anything at all. In fact, I strive to reach that point, as that's when things really get interesting. I end up with sculptures that are obviously figurative as well as many that most people see no figurative associations in at all, and a spectrum of work in between. I feel quite ok about all of them, and make no huge distinctions. And I don't feel compelled to be one thing or the other. My mentor, whose name I'll omit for his sake not mine, told me one time that there is only one reason to do sculpture that makes any sense (and I will contribute this in response to some of the discussion I see on other threads also). That is, he said, because you want to. If you're doing sculpture for any other reason, you are going to be disappointed. For me this was one of those simple statements that, the more I've come to remember it over the years in different circumstances, seems more and more profound. I guess what I really like and want to see in sculpture is some emotional response to form. Most often I get that from the figure, but also from a great deal of "abstract" work, in ways that I can't verbalize. On the other hand, a heap of gravel in the corner of a gallery room... or a few bottles with varying amounts of liquid in them.... or much else that is called "sculpture" today illicits no such response, for or from me, and I think it's something else entirely.
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Old 07-09-2003, 12:31 PM
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Hello All, Hello Georges,
I was looking through some old postings where you wrote....

"Taken a little aback I pointed out that a third of our over six hundred online Portfolio Sculptors do figurative work...."

This surprises me too, a figurative sculptor. The magazine ISC puts out seldom if ever features figurative sculpture. In fact I have always been under the impression that ISC is strictly a place for abstract elitists, yet I continue to subscribe waiting for the day that positive change will take place LOL.
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Old 07-09-2003, 06:38 PM
anne (bxl) anne (bxl) is offline
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is sculpture world divided into two drawers, abstract and figurative?
my today work is not abstract. nor figurative.

the real debate shouldn't be "tradition vs modernity"?
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Old 07-09-2003, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by anne (bxl)
the real debate shouldn't be "tradition vs modernity"?
I agree 100%.

I for instance refuse to be painted with a single brush. Denying the figure in my work would be as stupid as to deny the truly abstract.

This appears to lock me out of both camps.

So be it.
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Old 07-10-2003, 12:56 PM
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Horse

Chere Anne and Dear Araich

Hear! Hear!

I am a Sculpter PERIOD. If I need a horse I abstract from the material "what is not horse". Thank you, Mike. If I need "This is not a horse", I take away all that is horse. Thank you Rene. If I need the concept of a horse, perhaps the perfume of oats 24hrs. later is sufficent. Thank you, what is the Englishman's name? If I need a box, hopefully it is to stand on to see over the horizon.

ps Araich

Do you know Herge(le problem d'accent encore, Anne) the nom de plume of Tintin's creator George Remy inverted RG.

Ardor
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Old 07-10-2003, 05:55 PM
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Re: Horse

Quote:
Originally posted by rderr.com
ps Araich

Do you know Herge(le problem d'accent encore, Anne) the nom de plume of Tintin's creator George Remy inverted RG.

Ardor
Lol, yeah, but I read it 'her-gh'. That's a good parrallel however to 'ar-aich' - which doubtless gets read differently to.

-

Amongst certain abstract sculptors here in Sydney, there is a compulsion to destroy the figure in their work, whenever it appears. Often, because of human nature, the vaguest similarity to a figure can be seen, causing a complete rethink of the work. Such as having a block element high on the sculpture could appear as a head.

I think this is a kind of madness, and quite infectious I might add.
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Old 07-10-2003, 06:41 PM
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as long as our civilisation will stay anthropocentrist, we all will have the reflex to search anthropomorphics interpretations in artwork. it doesn't mean that everythink is figurative.

(bob : amazing you refer to tintin as I am living 2 blocks from hergé's home and as my dog is very much like snowy...)
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Old 07-10-2003, 10:05 PM
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Tu habit Bousval?

Chere Anne

Tu habit Bousvalt? Or however it is spelt.
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Old 07-11-2003, 05:15 PM
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Hello Australia
Rh wrote;
Amongst certain abstract sculptors here in Sydney....

I visited your country in the early 70's and lived in Brisbane, Queensland for 3 years. What a great country for promotion of the arts. I got my first opportunity to exhibit my work in Australia. Would have loved to have settled in Sydney. Alas, it was not to be.

Regarding your "infectious" comment. There will always be more little indians than there are big chiefs but in Australia I guess it is "more sheep than rams?". Enjoyed your post.
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Old 07-14-2003, 11:40 AM
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Back to the fiture

If I may bring us back to the topic, since I led us away. I contend there is no figurative or abstract. There is only the metaphor and its appropriate material and style. The addressed audience will be captured only by what it brings to the show. Sometimes in human history there are those that add to the pool of symbols, and the audience goes away with a new “word” in their vocabulary.

The photo is of work in progress and is illustrative of what I hope to explain. The work goes from the very anthropomorphic “Mike’s Chaise with God and Adam” to the artnouveaudecoitaloscandinavain “Thing” in bent wood, and several whimsical things such as “La Chaise” (chair is a female noun in French), “The Art Crawler”, in the background, and “Rocking Chaise”. (Ps a friend has done a “Rock in Chair”.) What I wish to say is that each time the material and style are integral to the subject. Thank you to all those who have added a word here and there to the human symbol.
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Old 09-11-2003, 10:26 PM
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maybe I should just listen but...

Being new to the group I should probably just sit here and listen but....

"When I asked one artist if she was a member of the ISC she responded: "But I'm a figurative sculptor!" "

I must say that my responce would have been the exact same thing. I subscribed to the sculpture magazine years ago. I let my subscription go for that very reason,and I belive my membership. I did not feel that it represented figurative work, or should I say that it was on rare occasions that I would see something in there that did, besides the ads in the back for foundries.

I can remember wishing there was another magazine and organization that specialized in figurative work.

Recently when someone told me about Ron Mueck and his work that was featured in July/august issue of the magazine I thought that certainly they were mistaken. I was pleased to see that it was true.

So as it may be true that there is a lot of representation of figurative work in the organization, within the magazine it is not as apparent, and that is what is in the eye of those who would reply with the same ignorance that the two of us have.
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  #21  
Old 09-12-2003, 10:05 PM
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Two things

Two things here, First, Bob - I have heard what you may consider a variation on your contention that “there is no figurative or abstract”, namely that all figuration is abstract. However, I think the two statements point in very different directions.

I agree with the second one. It says that we as human artists simply cannot reproduce what is present in a living person, and we therefore must abstract a portion of reality in order to present it. However, figuration as a category is well defined and the definition is helpful, it seems to me. Figuration in art simply is art which refers to the figure, however realistic or abstracted it may be.

My second comment regards the position of ISC and the art world in general vis-a-vis figurative sculpture. I have had and often have commented on the same feeling that these groups tended to ignore figuration. However, the art world in general now is paying much more attention to the figure, both in sculpture and in painting. ISC and “Sculpture” are doing the same.
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Old 09-12-2003, 11:23 PM
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I've looked back through my issues of Sculpture - there is a huge amount of figurative work represented.

I suspect when the word figurative is used here, it is often meant as realist figurative. And this will always be but a part of the larger sculpture community.

Even when the figure plays a huge part in current sculpture overall.
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Old 09-14-2003, 04:19 PM
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realism and the figure

Araich - I'm sure you're right about people here using the term to mean realistic figurative. Clearly that is the type of work, if not meaning of the term, I favor. Although I believe I said in replying to a question about defining the figure, that anything referring to the human figure or even to human activity could be figurative, very shortly afterward, I regretted that statement as being too broad.

I accept cubist renderings of the figure, and forms in cut or welded sheet or pipe, but I think realism offers the sculptor a deeper palette. It gives the viewer more, if the artist is good. Other forms are akin to dream in a way - they active the viewer’s imagination, but give less direct input.
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Old 09-14-2003, 05:24 PM
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La Raison d’être

Fritchie

I see no difference either in the direction or substance of what you or I have written You are quite right, we, as visual artist, abstract what is in our field of vision, modify it to present our vision. . The eventual difference could be “la raison d’être”. There are several “rasions”; to be the first at the table, first in bed, first at the Charmin, or first with a question All art is provocation. The rest is decoration. And, all art is an abstraction. Thus “figuration” is the “realist “ sub class of abstraction. I suppose what needs be defined is “non-figurative” abstraction. Have a go at it youall on the “other side”.

As to the second reflection what will dominate (if domination is a real question) History only is judge. In the “present” (now, past and future) two things always float, cream and shit.

Art is provocative
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Old 12-30-2003, 07:14 PM
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Re: Figurative Sculptors Please move to the Back ...

........"an undervalued elite"....
yea----uh huh that'll do.
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