Monday, April 25, 2011

Sculpture on display.

What absolutely infuriates me is being in a show where all the curators are either painters or non-artists who think that sculpture is a kind of very thick painting and they display it as such. I've seen sculpture lined up like vehicles in a used car lot, I've not only seen it backed up tight against a wall so that you can only see the front and the sides, I've also seen it tucked into a corner so that all you see is the top and the front.  I swear, I think if they could figure out a way to frame it and hang on the wall, they would.
        Sometimes I wonder if they do it deliberately. I was standing with a sculptor friend mine while he was talking to a curator of a very large art show when he asked her, politely, not to place the piece butt up to a wall, which would hide the back side of the piece. So she didn’t. This is the instance previously mentioned where the piece was crammed into a corner so that all you could see was the top and the front. This was an incredibly complex wood carving with loops and whirls all through it, kind of looked like and Escher print and so she stuck in a place where it was basically one dimensional and all the work put into it was totally wasted. And it was on a pedestal at about knee height. Six year olds appreciated it. There were more instances at this show where there was no understanding that the work being displayed was three dimensional. Sculpture has: a front, a back, two sides, a top and a bottom. I really wish some of these people would get this concept through their heads.  I’ve decided that from now on I’m going with the notion my work will be curated by someone with no concept of sculpture and so all my work will be on turntables so at least the viewer will have a chance to see the work from all sides, despite best efforts of someone to make it look like a painting.

Sculpture is the stuff you trip over when you are backing up trying to look at a painting. (Jules Olitski)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why so uptight?


It takes two to paint. One to paint, the other to stand by with an axe to kill him before he spoils it. (William Merritt Chase)

I wonder why I get so tight assed when it comes to my figurative sculpture. Anyone who knows me well enough can tell you there are definitely times when I can be a few sandwiches short of a complete picnic and you’d think someone with those qualifications would be totally out there in la-la land when it comes to creating art work and yet time and time again I find myself working the life out of my sculpture instead of just letting go and allowing the work to have a life of it’s own. I start out with a certain easy, flowing, relaxed idea in mind and yet I can’t stop working on a piece until I’m getting down to putting the eyelashes on. And what really bugs is the fact at one point I’ll have reached the look I want and yet I’ll continue on until it’s completely lost.
  Could it be the ADD? Its a fact that ADD can make a person focus intently but sometimes on the wrong thing. You can find yourself hyper-focusing on something that is totally pointless. It’s funny how on the one hand I don’t focus on the things I need to and on the other I get trapped into putting all my attention on the unnecessary.  What I need is some kind of limiter on my work. I recognize I have this inability to know when to stop, so what am I to do? Simple, get an axeman.
            Or in this case, a wife. To paraphrase an old saying, she doesn’t know art but she knows what she likes. Now I’m the sort of person who hates any interference by anyone  when I’m working on a piece, but I’ve had to overcome this issue and invite her to view and criticize my work while it’s in progress. And in the past when she’s suggested a piece is finished, I’ve placated her and then gone on to ruin the piece. It’s my piece and I’ll screw it up if I want to. But now I have recognized that she’s been right, so after a number of unsatisfactory pieces I’ve decided to take her opinion as gospel and when she says it’s done, it’s done. And not only that, she can spot those errors in a piece that I’ve seen so many times I’ve just gotten used to them.
            So now she stands behind me with a symbolic axe just to remind me what can happen if I have a sudden urge to overwork a piece. And it works out just fine.