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
Dutch artist Woody van Amen studied at the Rotterdam Academy and taught there from 1970 onwards. He was a pioneer of abstract assemblage sculpture and pop art in its materialized concrete form. In 1961, he spent the entire year and the following year residing in America. Van Amen was able to draw inspiration from the legendary pop artist Andy Warhol during his stay in the United States. This gave him the thrust he needed to manifest his pursuit for pop art in sculpture. He came to the Netherlands after this trip and began working on his own style of assemblage sculpture. Despite his current popularity, he started out as humble as artists go by. One of his first works; Electric Chair (1964) wasn’t considered as art by the public and instead was seen as a medium whose intention was merely to mock.
In the 1970’s he traveled to both Southeast Asia and Switzerland to gain an oriental pull of influence for his sculptures. In 1993, he received the Chabot Prize from the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds or Prince Bernhard Culture Fund). In 2003, he also visited Singapore after recovering from a grave illness. It was there where he came across some Chinese flashcards signifying specific characters like Shuangxi or “doube happiness”. This observance directly influenced his style as well and played an important role in his development as an abstract artist.
A native of Düsseldorf, Norbert Kricke is a fine example of abstract sculpture in the non-figurist sense. Abstract sculpture can be classified into several sub-categories, but mainly fall into two types; representational and non-representational. Despite his works being frequently described as non-reresentational abstract sculpture, Kricke’s various organic forms are inspired by the subject matter of water and nature. His pin-like metal wires are a popular twist to the standardized wire armature pieces one may see in many artist studios. Kricke’s famous sculpture, “Water Forest” lies outside of the Gelsenkirchen Opera House.
Kricke has created several grand pieces for famous people and locales, but among his roster of projects, his fountain art sculptures in the University of Baghdad stand out as prime examples of his undying passion for the abstract arts. Throughout his lifetime, his works have circled around continents, being displayed at various galleries such as the Galerie Rothe in Frankfurt and the Neues Museum Weimar. The Daimler Chrysler Contemporary Museum in Berlin also carries a permanent collection of his.
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.
Everyone is familiar with the surrealist Salvador Dali and his famous artworks, but not as many people know about his permanent exhibition in France called the Espace Dalí. The entire complex holds over three hundred original art pieces made by Dali himself. It’s located near the Place du Terte in Montmarte. Creations like the Space Elephant are housed in this museum along with several other Dalinian sculptures. Dali’s conquest for surrealism is a widespread conveyance of its curiosity through the different artistic media. He made use of everything from paperwork to painting to sculpture.
Espace Dalí – Photography by Florian75018
Within the museum, there are many chambers for the various types of visitors. There are workshops for children to learn about art, as well as temporary exhibitions at specific halls. The two galleries that make up the museum are the Galerie Dali and the Galerie Montmarte. The later is for several contemporary artists’ exhibition usage. The Espace Dalí is a wonderful place to visit for art enthusiasts, historians, professors, students and even families. It showcases the biggest group of artworks made by the master and is open to visitors young and old.
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.
Singapore’s recent fame with the art world isn’t just because of its status as a prestigious place to attend art auctions. The country’s own sculptors have a big impact on the global community as well. Now, let’s delve into the artistic life of Singapore’s Han Sai Por.
Han Sai Por is one of Singapore’ treasured artists. She studied at several notable art schools such as the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, East Ham College of Art, the Wolverhampton College of Art and the Lincoln University in New Zealand. Her sculptures reflect upon the eyes as very organic and natural in shape. She plays with the theme of life and the role that natural design plays in our world. Han’s very first exhibition; Four Dimensions was held at the National Museum Gallery in the early 1990’s.
Sculpture by Han Sai Por – Photography by Stefano Sartor
Han founded the Sculpture Society of Singapore at the turn of the millennium, and was the very first resident sculptor of the organization’s sculpture Pavillion at Fort Canning Park. It was there that she leaned on her taste for organic sculpture even more and created masterpieces from the trunks of Tembusu trees. Despite this, she is known much more for the stone sculptures that she creates to portray natural wonders like the birth of seeds and the spirit of nature. Han is a sculptor who has achieved more in her lifetime than most artists could ever dream of. She was awarded the Cultural Medallion for Art in 1995 among several other recognitions that were given to her during the course of her career.
Wercollier was an artist who was famous for defying the Nazi Occupation. He was born sometime in the early 1900’s at Luxembourg. As an artist, he worked mostly with bronze and marble, but also explored the sculptural properties of wood, alabaster and onyx. Today, many of his art pieces can be found internationally.
When Luxembourg was occupied by the Germans in World War II, Wercollier had a choice to make. There was an organization called the Reichskulturkammer that had been tasked to ensure that all artworks made by anyone had to be at an agreement with the “Aryan” spirit. Wercollier decided not to follow this organization and instead participated in strikes during the 1940’s. He was eventually arrested and imprisoned at the Neumünster Abbey in Luxembourg. Wercollier’s history at the abbey has not been forgotten to this very day. The location now houses many of his sculptures in a permanent collection.
Sculpture by Lucien Wercollier – Photography by Claude Meisch
Later on, Wercollier was transferred to the Hinzert concentration camp in Germany. Wercollier sympathized with the victims of the Nazi oppression that were sent there and this experience led him to create many of his future works. After being rellocated to Lublin for a while, he was later freed at the turn of the war. As a free man, Wercollier was able to pursue his artistic career yet again with more vigilance and passion. He founded the Iconomaques, along with some friends. It was a group of Luxembourg artists who had been spreading the movement of abstract art all across the nation.
Today, Wercollier’s works can be read about in the history of the city and in many international news articles as well. The government of Luxembourg gave one of his sculptors to the Kennedy Center in Washington to honor John F. Kennedy. Another of his sculptures was also sent to the Olympic Sculpture Garden in Lausanne Switzerland. Wercollier’s history as a sculptor was defined by his story and because of his unique experiences, his art was able to move thousands all across the globe. It only shows that art can be a force for change an a pioneer for good in our modern world.
Olivier Strebelle’s large and monumentally scaled sculptures have been a frequent sight for almost 60 years. His style has evolved from a previous set of organic and abstract forms to a more linear and slender type of modernism that plays with the movement of the eyes as they observe his work. Strebelle’s bronze artworks has made their way into countries like Germany, Israel, Italy, Singapore and America.
Olivier Strebelle in his Sculpture Studio – Photography by Mark Moran
His more recent sculpture “Athletes’ Alley” has been placed on the area where the 2008 Beijing Olympics was held a few years back. This renown sculpture rose up to over sixty feet high and three hundred forty feet across. The artist made use of steel tubing and bended them into a continuous flow of contemporary shapes. From angled views, the shapes come together very nicely in an elegant assembly of sorts, but the real purpose can be seen when the piece is viewed from a specific place. It is then, that the viewer will be able to see five figures carrying the Olympic rings. The sculpture did not make it in time for the Olympic date exactly, but was a good gestural gift from Belgium to the city of Beijing. It cost about 5 million euros to create. To produce such a grand and monumental structure, a cooperative project had to be established between The Image Laboratory of the Université Libre de Bruxelles in Belgium and the Tsinghua University in China. These two universities also had to seek the expertise of C&E Ingénierie; an engineer’s consultancy specializing in metal framework, and Sofistik; a German software company.