Through the last decade, we’ve noticed a crop of emerging personalities in the practice of sculpting with raw paper. Folding, cutting, glue-sticking and rolling- it’s very easy to understand the basics of creating sculptures out of art, however why do we marvel at several of the more recent paper sculptors and their uniquely unbelievable creations?
Origami is probably one of the best known forms of paper sculpture, followed by paper cut-outs, folding lanterns and silhouettes. In the past few months, we’ve observed artists from every corner of the globe use a combination of the time-tested basic techniques to make artworks that have an impact the first time around. Cutting and folding techniques have evolved,just like the piece of paper art you see above. A modern combination of craft techniques and design styles give way to a new breed of assemblage-art that the world has yet to appreciate in full. We believe 2012 is a year where new and upcoming artists will bedazzle the art world with exciting concepts that will be both bold and innovative.
We’ve seen those world-class auctions held on tv. Sotheby’s and Christie’s among other big names are some of the institutions pioneering a love for art as valuable pieces of luxury collections. Today let’s look at sculpture as one of the media next in line for the throne of art luxury.
“L’Homme qui marche I” or “The Walking Man” by Alberto Giacometti fetched an entire sum of US$103.7 million at London’s Sotheby’s auction. The piece, a distinctive image of a stylized walking man was one out of a series of sculptures in similar form and art by Giacometti. Sometimes we in the artworld marvel at the deepest colors and the most innovative media, and yet I believe pieces like this emphasize an important intrinsic value that is often overlooked in art. The most prominently valuable characteristic that an artwork holds is its history. Giacometti was a brilliant scuptor and a timeless artisan. His works command prices higher than most of us can every dream of having, yet these seemingly simplistic designs of art may not always look like the most valuable things in the world. Historical significance of a piece to both the artist and his audience… -that is the value factor we have to look for when investing in artworks. Lily Safra, the buyer of the recently auctioned piece must have seen this quality in the work. Her record breaking piece is now an emblem of the personal and monetary value achievable by the medium of sculpture.
Would you guys like to know about the most expensive painting ever sold at auction? It’s Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Dr. Gachett” that was purchased in 1990. Today the equivalent of the price paid for that work would be approximately just over 138 million US dollars. Despite this high number, it is not the most expensive painting in the world when judged purely by monetary data. A painting entitled No. 5 by the famed abstractionist Jackson Pollock in 1948 sold for about 150 million dollars (present-day equivalent). This transaction was private though, not at an auction.
Ann Arbor’s own Sharon Que is an American hybrid artist. While being a patron of music and specializing in violin restoration and repair, she finds herself creating a number of assemblage sculptures in her spare time. With her musical background in mind, Sharon bridges the gap of media and goes even further with her pieces. She tackles imagery in her work by mixing forms pertaining to issues of spiritual, secular and mathematical relation. The Detroit Institute of Arts acquired and displayed some of her works as well. She’s had various solo exhibitions in Ann Arbor, Birmingham, and recently in Fort Masin Center (San Fransisco) in 2005.
Sharon’s deep, yet industrialized compositions speak of her mind’s conversation with the world, addressing her own thoughts as a person facing every issue we all face today in a modern society. Some of her public sculptures blend well in their own hybrid forms due to Sharon’s knack for texture manipulation. Combining smooth surfaces with natural roughs and concrete allows one to fully appreciate the contrast within her artistic works. In 2008 Ann Arbor featured some of her works at the Gallery One in Washtenaw Community College together with some works by Tom Phardel.
To some, the famous “Burning Man” Arts Festival is a regular hotspot for gatherings of young and talented artisans from all across the globe. Back in 2000, a female-dominated art group was born through collaborative work during this special festival. The Flaming Lotus Girls took their group’s name from their very first sculptural masterpiece; the Flaming Lotus Sr. The art collective makes use of interactive elements to form kinetic and innovative sculptural pieces that dazzle audiences with displays of light and fire. They’ve gone from using alloys of metal, to medleys of glass and wood to create flame spurts of up to 150 feet in height.
A few years back, they created an original piece called Soma. They were deeply inspired by the ability of neurons to fire signals into a complex system of nodes and receptors. The large-scale sculpture exhibits two neurons that seemingly transfer signals to one another using intense displays of fire and light flow. One of the neurons roots itself onto the ground, while the other is hoisted higher above it. Computers are used to control the LED patterns within the connected neurons. The concept behind the interactivity isn’t limited to automation either. The complex design allows the public to communicate with the sculpture itself via a control system accessible to anyone. A Soma in nature is actually neuron with branches called dendrites and a projection called the axon. Basing from biological science, the art of Soma by this group of artists is a wonderful example of kinetic and contemporary art today.
Soma 2009 by the Flaming Lotus Girls – Photography by Michael Prados
Roberd DuGrenier’s glass artworks are a hybridity of living art. We’ve never seen sculpture used in the curious manner that he creates. His many sculptural forms act as living cells or units by which other organisms can make use of artificially. They are very beautiful for the fact that his glass medium enables onlookers to see what normal people could never see; the hidden process of life in the world.
His hermit crab sculptures are comprised of glass shells that actual live crabs move into. These allow people to see the inner sanctum of the hermit crab’s anatomical body at work within the shell. DuGrenier’s sculptures are a magnificent and interesting way to teach children the basics of biology using these non-harmful curiosities to instruct lesson plans. Another one of his sculptures makes use of an invisible beehive. Sculpted in the natural form and contour of a hive, the artwork interacts with both the bees and people in giving the first a home and the latter a look into nature’s own honey factory. DuGrenier also sculpted a glass element that he integrated with the natural growth of a branching tree, In the globular glass object, people were able to see the movements of the tree’s branch growth day by day. These works of art provide a window into the unreachable sights that human beings often just wonder about.
Sculptures by Robert DuGrenier and Photography by Fvlcrvm
Australia’s largest outdoor show for sculpture has been going on since 1996. Bondi Beach’s Sculpture by the Sea is an amazing gathering of artists from around the country to participate in this long upheld tradition. More companion exhibitions have been sprouting up ever since the popularization of this coastline exhibit. One at Cottesloe Beach and another at Aarhus in Denmark are complementing the movement started by Sculpture by the Sea.
The large-scale exhibition is an annual event always held during the hot summer months. The event started out as a brainchild of David Handley. Handley saw that there was an outdoor park in Klatovy, Bohemia and he wanted to bring that kind of event to the artists of Australia as well. He was inspired to start a yearly ritual of exhibiting artworks from various parts of Australia so that the whole country could also bask in its own aesthetic evolution and culture. The entire long-haul exhibit spans from Bronte Beach to Tamatama Beach to Bondi Beach. The two kilometer long coastal sculpture exhibition draws in crowds up to half a million people in number. The hundreds of participating sculptors create larger-than life visual attractions for the tourists and locals to view alongside the magnificent seascape scenery of Bondi Beach.
Computer aided design has been around for decades now. With the emergence of platforms like AutoCAD, Maya, Solidworks and the rest, 3D modelling has reached new heights in today’s modern communities. We’d like to wonder about the future of sculpture with regards to these fat paced developments. Surely there are quite a number of digital sculptors already at this point. The jewelry industry has already made CAD and CAM (Computer aided machiniery) an integral process of their manufacturing line. Will art also lean towards the digital frontier?
When speaking of sculpture CAM, the degree of difficulty and cost for production are currently much higher than those counterparts that rival painting and photography. Photoshop for example, is easily obtainable, and printing options are plentiful. Lithography is also a high class media that digital 2D artists can use. The problem with replicating 3D models is that CAM technology is very limited to those with more abundant resources. one machine from Solidscape or ZCorporation (3D Printers) can fetch up to over 25,000 US dollars, and not every artist can afford to shell out that kind of money. Likewise, another obstacle is the fact that these 3D printers can only ‘print’ using wax or composite plastics. Many of these media aren’t traditionally used as materials for fine sculpture. The bright side for them is that with the emergence of contemporary sculpture, media selection has broadened and plastics are now sometimes involved with different styles of hybrid sculpture.
The future of the three dimensional art world is soon approaching our doorstep, and when it does, we’ll have a lot more interesting stories to tell about the progressions and novelty discoveries that arise from man’s growing desire to improve. We here at Artsculptor just hope that the development of these capabilities will not hinder our true definition of art. Art is a human rebellion against the mass-produced. It is an original expression of one’s own self that should not be categorized with routine and robotized products.