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.
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.
Recently there have been a number of Chinese sculptors that have made impact on the global art community. Here, we are going to talk about one of them. His name is Zhan Wang and he is an abstract sculptor who works with the boldness of the media and likes to transform it in ways that no one has ever seen before. Some people say that Zhan takes his inspiration from the many wild experiences he has had over the years. In 2004 for example, Zhan climbed the tallest mountain in the world; Everest, and put one of his sculptures at the very top of the peak.
Sculpture Rock Number 59 by Zhan Wang – Photography by Reguiieee
Zhan’s sculptures were often considered a novelty not because of their form, shape or subject, but because of the new manner that he presented these already-existing objects. He would play with positions, balance, and color to make each piece seem like it has been reinvented for the purpose of a new art experience. He calls his recent style “Floating Stones” and they can be classified as sculptures that are largely textured and rock-like in nature. The difference is, these large masses of nature are coated in chrome metals by Zhan himself. They are also known as scholar’s rocks according to the artist. He also refer to this particular set of works he started in 1995 as Artificial Jiashanshi. The mirror-like feel of his sculptures give surrealists a feel of an indeterminate form and existence. The liquid-like chrome blends with the cascades of light and reflects some of it back at the human eye to showcase the brilliance of Zhan’s master craftsmanship.
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.
Used as another word for public art or community art, Plop art usually refers to art that has been made for outdoor viewing. These types include the large emblematic structures outside government offices or NGO buildings. The term actually refers to art that does not match its surroundings well enough. Plop art is usually seen as a work that stands out of place when compared to the rest of the surrounding environment. In 1969, the term was coined by James Wines and was a play on the term “pop art”. Since then, people have began using it in everyday conversation to refer to these gigantic structural objects they see all around them.
Many conservative people actually liked the term because it suggested a negative meaning. They made it look as if plop art had something to do with ugliness or strangeness, because of the word “plop” which sounds like a random dropping of an object without any care or particular attention to where it would fall. Others who enjoy plop art, have been trying to reclaim the term for a positive meaning, suggesting that “plop art” refers to public, contemporary, environental sculptures that are on display for the whole community to experience. Plop art is a type of sculpture that usually entwines itself with architecture. Some public artists now try to blend their art with existing structures like buildings and houses to make the scenery seem like part of the artwork.