Have any of you ever encountered Constantin Brâncuşi’s Romanian pieces of modern art? Two days ago while going about my daily rounds about the worldwide artweb, I saw this picture of a remarkably stunning minimalistic sculpture. Clad in a golden hue and oriented like a vertical spire, it was an attention-grabbing artwork I just had to blog about. In the early 1920’s, I believe the original first work, “Pasărea în văzduh” was created. That very same sculpture came up at auction last 2005 and demanded the high selling price of over twenty million dollars. Today his series of sculptures under the known name “Bird in Space” is well spread out across the globe. Australia’s National Gallery, the Peggy Guggenheim Collection (Italy) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art are just some of the places that house his works of bronze and marble.
What’s amazing about this series of works is how movement is visually captured in a static field of presence. Brâncuşi ‘s unique depiction of his subjects allowed for their artistic beauty to be derived from an alternate source rather than mere physical beauty or symmetry. He posed the notion of dynamic life in his body of works. To showcase this, he made people see a different side of the subjects, encompassing their existence as a visual purpose. Flight, movement, speed and distance can all be felt from one look at his majestic creations. Aside from being a colleague of the famous Marcel Duchamp (The Fountain), Brâncuşi was able to even change the outlook on fine art in the United states customs department when an late 1920’s issue regarding customs inhibited the dignity of his art pieces momentarily. A lot of people supported Brâncuşi and he eventually won out the favor of society after an appeal. This was the very first non-representational abstract sculpture to be considered as a type of art by the government bodies involved.
Photography credited to Dennis Irrgang
Sculpture by Constantin Brâncuşi
Have you ever come across a Fabergé egg? Most people who’ve traveled to Russia and other places around the world have at least heard of the famous egg jewelry sculptures. Fabergé was actually the name of a person who founded the jewelry firm The House of Fabergé, although many describe their works as sculptural forms over wearable jewelry. Gustav Fabergé was the founder of this design company and was followed by his son Peter Carl Fabergé. They were famous for designing the well-known jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs for Russian Tsars and were nationalized by the Bolsheviks in 1918. To the disdain of many art followers, the name Fabergé was eventually sold off and re-sold again to various people and companies who expanded into cosmetics, clothing lines and colognes.
Moscow Kremlin Egg – Photography by Stan Shebs
The historical beauty of the Fabergé egg remains as a landmark artifact in Russian and international society today. The imperial eggs actually started when the Tsar Alexander III commissioned the house of Fabergé to create an Easter egg masterpiece for his wife. The original Fabergé egg that was made back then in 1885 was encrusted in gold with miniature pieces of jewelry inside, such as a gold yolk with a gold chicken that opens to reveal a replica of the imperial crown with a ruby egg. Carl Fabergé was commissioned over and over again as a tradition each year with the noble family. A total of fifty two eggs were made for Alexander III and Nicholas II’s gifts.
The term Found Art was coined by the famous artist Marcel Duchamp. It referred to art whose subject composition was that of everyday objects who retained their form but were changed just a bit. These objects were among the things that were not usually considered to be classified as art or art media. Other names for Found Art are Readymade Art or Trash Art. The purpose behind the invention of found art is to challenge the notions of what constitute fine art in the first place. Just because an everyday object has a routinized or boring purpose doe not mean that it cannot be seen as art in one way or another. Every artwork made and categorized as Found Art must have an input though from the artist- such as a narration or explanation to clarify its meaning. The object becomes such art because of the artist’s direct designation of the object as art, therefore he or she must defend the idea behind it.
Sculpture by Marcel Duchamp – Photography by Alfred Stieglitz
Found Art quickly spread after the time of Duchamp and made its way into popular society. Dadaism quickly sprung from it and several artists such as Man Ray and Francis Picabia used it in combination with traditional art as well. Its roots can be traced to several more artists in history such as famous surrealists like André Breton and historical geniuses like Pablo Picasso.
Earlier, we mentioned that Trash art or junk art is another name for found art. This is because many people in the modern world have attributed the two to be one and the same (though this was not true during the earlier times.) Trash art is actually a sub-genre and is usually made up of assemblage sculptor who make use of discarded materials like old computers and microwave ovens. This type of contemporary art is a more modern way of looking at the journey of Found Art into the present time.
Wire sculpture isn’t a new technological development or anything, it’s been around for hunreds of years. With so many various applications in technology, fashion and other fields, the manipulation of wire contours vastly outnumbers its applications singularly for art. Today though, many new designers seek to create a new way of representing this media within the world of sculpture. One vividly illustrative way is the application of wire sculpture into jewelry. Jewelry based on wire mesh, string-type or flat-type is a fairly common sight at trade fairs, competitions and even exhibitions. Modern styles dictate that the usage of stand-alone wire designs are much more accepted today than they were in the previous decades. These days, the trends go for a highly metal or silvery tone, bypassing the absolute rule of traditional gem and gold-based jewelers.
At this point, wire sculpture has also made its way into original figurative art pieces. Several personalities create wire figures by coiling or meshing a group of wires into the silhouette or exact shape of a subject. In the past, this may have been referred to a building an armature. Armatures are traditionally made to support cast sculptures when in their final phase of completion. Armature were also used as support units for clay modeling (especially with oil based clay.) Wire has outgrown these component functions and evolved into its own artistic media, allowing it to stand alone against a sea of rival materials. The growing number of wire artists just proves even more that any media despite its history, can still rise up and create something truly breathtaking and beautiful.
Many people say that the art of each person is completely unique, this is because what defines an individual person’s art is also what defines that individual. Upbringing, history, locations and surroundings all affect the artist in a manner that shapes his art as well as his ability to conceive ideas.
Today let’s take a look at Brazilian sculpture and where the modern era of art is taking them. Sculptors in Brazil have currently evolved beyond the Neogothic, Deco and Art Nouveau movements already and are in fine tuning with contemporary themes such as minimalism and surrealism. In 1951, the São Paulo Art Biennial was one of the ground breaking events that gave abstract sculpture the push it needed in the Brazilian community. Max Bill, a Swiss sculptor was the gold winner for the competition during that year.
Sculptures by Franz Krajcberg – Photography by Sam Emerick
Since then, abstract sculpture has grown into more modern themes in Brazil, however the people’s preference fro figurative resemblances did not vanish along with the trends of the past. They incorporated this into many of their contemporary works, even with subtle hints or meaningful symbolism plays. Pop art and Neoexpressionism were among some of the artistic movements that gave abstract sculpture its diversity in the country in 1960. These days, several Brazilian sculptors have made their way into the international art scene. Some of the popular artists include Francisco Brennarnd, Sergio de Camargo and Willys de Castro. Brazilian sculpture continues its journey to transform the local art community into an assemblage of noteworthy personalities that can teach younger generations their wide appreciation of art and design.
Abstract Sculpture is a sensual expression of the mind to the heart. It does not promote a full accuracy of the real world, but does so intentionally so that its elements can penetrate the cognitive thinking of an audience. There are two types of abstract sculpture, just like there are in painting. These are Representational Abstract and Non-Representational Abstract. The first pertains to a sculpture that was partially or completely derived from a source in reality, such as the subject of a human body. The latter pertains to a sculpture that is purely imagined out of reality (like a Jackson Pollock in painting).
Sculptors in the modern sense, create works that range from simple pinwheel sized moving sculptures, to large monument-scaled shapes contoured to the environment. Despite the common measuring element of size, sculptures can gain deviance and popularity manipulating other elements as well. Texture, weight, balance and color can all play a distinct role in transforming a novelty idea into a concrete work of art.
There will be many more articles and stories to come that will intrigue and poke at your definition of what abstract sculpture really is, but for now let us just leave it at this:
Abstract sculpture is made by people who do not think or walk like we do. It is an art that was born out of human error, and yet judged by human creativity. It chooses imagination over knowledge (following Eintein’s famous quote) and speaks a meaning that can be heard differently depending on the ear that hears it. We may simply see the beauty in its sublime randomness and modern existence, but to truly understand its power, we must first shrink ourselves to be more humble than intellectuals, but far greater than logic.