One of the strengths of these sculptures is there ability to make some quite bold statements around the areas of death, loneliness, cruelty or pain.. sometimes sensational statements, while at the same time showing their materials quite simply and how they seem to have been put together by the artist.
This sculpture when view in person shows the pieces of wax fused together in order to create this somewhat destitute life form- or destitute reminder. This sculpture reminds me of the Bernini’s sculpture of Apollo and Daphne, mythological tale of Daphne, whereby the plant life begins to hold of Daphne’s body, beginning at the fingers, hands, arms and works its way across the body in a sculptural snap-shot in a running motion. Although comparable, in contrast these wax limbs are heavy, frail and limp.
I see a beautiful kind of morbidity.
Take a walk passed the skulls, the skeletons and the character of Death himself dancing on our backs, he is enticing us passed the diverse range of ways in which we can achieve the inevitable, and how we deal with it.. or is that not at the heart of the whole exhibition?
This is the kind of exhibition that you may find yourself thinking thoughts like: Everyone on the planet at present -not that long after I am dead in the grand scheme of things- will all have passed away, will all be gone. To myself, it often feels the idea of being truly dead (as a door nail), usually feels like a stretch of the imagination. Yet, I at times I feel I have rare momentary glimpses into this (often difficult to except) reality.
Sobering, thoughtful, funny, engrossing, therapeutic.
Death: A Self-portrait exhibition at the Wellcome Collection London. Donated by Richard Harris.
Historically speaking the grotesque is a decorative wall painting of interwoven hybrid human or animal bodies and mythical characters entwined with floral patterns using curving spiraling foliage elements. The name is derived from the “grotto” in grotesque meaning cave. Found on interiors of rooms or corridors or ‘hidden places’. The strange motifs of hybrids of plant, animal, and human forms were first discovered in the 15th century in Nero’s palaces.
There is a place for humour, folly and satire in the work that easily translates into contemporary versions. These whimsical works inspired work of the masters during the Renaissance, continuing in the art of the Baroque, Rococo- not to mention art of the postmodern or artists working today. Could it be that they retain a good working combination that opens up relevant debate between disparate elements?- Such as aesthetic beauty in the decorative vs the abject; the free-form mythical figures fusing bodies of humans and animals and plants within curved structures vs the crazed feeling from these exaggerated forms; the sheer enchanting absurdity of the characters mingling they way across the planes of the walls..
These images are taking by my self while around those unreal grand palaces in Florence. I found myself being more intrigued on my walk between rooms with these grotesques, as I slowly started to get a visual overload of the more polished master works. The seemingly less important status of the secret walls and ceilings give them their freeing of free flow painting. The kind of painting that resembles a masters oil sketch and can be extremely inspiring.
For contemporary artists take check out the exhibition ‘Disparities & Deformations: Our Grotesque’ at Site Santa Fe curated by Robert Storr.
Not in chronological order, but this is how I came to know the body, in its parts.
1. television (screen shots):
2. digital mri imaging
This drawing in particular (whom had a few years in my studio) creates a
strange feeling it is alright to die physically, if beauty like this can be revealed.
The beautiful and seemingly ambiguous image for: Method and Meditation by Rene Descartes (from the Wellcome Collection, London).
This post is briefly looking at the interior of some artist studios miscellaneously collected. Avoiding famous artist studio for now (mine is in there too). After a quick look at these photographs it becomes more obvious how the studio can affect the way the work looks or turns out. Here is the home studio, bedroom studio, garage studio, art school studio, established artist studio and emerging artist studio.
Before taking a photo of your studio, please don’t go and have a good spring clean up. These are the work spaces that interested parties might be looking carefully at, not only to see the imagined ‘lifestyle’ of the artist, but to see into their tricks of the trade, and possible secrets of alchemy. Maybe to jump a few hurdles which took the artist’s themselves years to discover! Such as the use of plates, plastic cups and tin cans to mix paint on, wax pencils, rags, types of paint and brushes used.. or seeing walls covered in a collection of their own work to gauge new work against, or a plethora of image source materials collected for direct use or inspiration, versus the stark clean studio and surfaces you could eat off of.
While looking for these studio images, seems the best images are of those which show a few personal working methods and set-ups. The secrets or surprises are the practices we want to know.
These could by described as photographic drawings; a collaboration between Croix Gagnon and Frank Schott. To create these images the image sequence of the Visual Human Project played on the screen of a laptop (see previous post below) while being photographed. This is achieved by extending the exposure time of the photograph to give them time to move the laptop around the picture plain.
The image becomes stretched or condensed during the photograph through the movements of the artist. Here it captures a wispy free form of the body as it is fluidly and seems to softly reconstruct the body from head to toe. I am guessing they saw or proposed the outcome and persisted with it, as it developed they then decided upon the backgrounds and how they wanted the images to be dictated; to this idea of making a soul/ghost- like cliche from the raw bodily data of the Visible Human Project as a good crossover of this long debated philosophical argument, between tangible and ephemeral, body and soul.
There is a real momentum and fluidity exhibited in this curious plan-view of the body. As it runs through the animation one begins to visualise the rounded pockets and spherical shapes, the organs, the longitude and latitude of the muscles as it runs down an arm or leg and the surprising diagonal routes the bones take across the limbs. As a human I generally see the ‘bau-plan’ (body-plan) as upright which is maybe why this seems so odd an angle to observe (usually science simplifies and makes observation of complex data easier! Not here, until it gets processed into 3d anatomical illustration programs at least).
What you are seeing in the video is the Visible Human Project data-set containing 1800 cross-section images of a male body [See the my post after this one of it being used for art purposes]. This is the body of an executed murderer, that was embedded in gelatin, frozen, sliced crosswise into more than 1800 slices, then digitally photographed in order to make these images. The sections were at one millimeter intervals (video above), the female at one-third of a millimeter intervals (not shown). Creating a enchanting meeting of science and good ol’ fashioned morbid curiosity. The still shots of the video are reminiscent of Christian Wilhelm Braune (1831 - 1892) the German anatomist and professor of topographical anatomy (see illustrations below). Make of it what you will..
Also, make of the ‘moral’ message as one of its headlines, stating this is a sliced up body of a murderer! As if this is a further punishment after death? Is this a disrespectful act? An other implication is that this is a statement of a religion nature (i.e. the respect of the soul within the body)- would that then imply they are taking the role of judgement and punishment? (The human race has not got a great history of making this type of act into positive outcomes, to say the least). Then again there were the days of the Bodysnatchers, which I think we all miss just a little.