The awesome spare-parts sculpture of Edouard Martinet
07:17 am


Edouard Martinet

From detritus like bicycle parts, chains, flashlights, corkscrews, spatulas, even steel toes from work boots, Edouard Martinet assembles these astonishing sculptures of birds, fish, and insects. Mainly insects. But WOW, what insects!

When Edouard Martinet was 10, one of his teachers introduced his pupils to insects, but in a rather obsessive way. Subliminally, the fascination sunk in to the young French boy. Fast-forward 40 years, and Martinet has become the art world’s virtuoso insectophile, transforming bits and pieces of cast-off junk culled from flea markets and car boot sales into exquisitely executed insect, fish and animal forms. What sets Martinet’s work apart is the brilliant formal clarity of his sculptures, and their extraordinary elegance of articulation. His degree of virtuosity is unique: he does not solder or weld parts. His sculptures are screwed together. This gives his forms an extra level of visual richness - but not in a way that merely conveys the dry precision of, say, a watchmaker. There is an X-Factor here, a graceful wit, a re-imagining of the obvious in which a beautifully finished object glows not with perfection, but with character, with new life. Martinet takes about a month to make a sculpture and will often work on two or three pieces at the same time. It took him just four weeks to make his first sculpture and 17 years for his most recent completion!

Not exactly the first thing that leaps to mind when one thinks of “scrap metal sculpture,” is this? Be sure to check the individual images on Martinet’s gallery page—he lists the specific materials used for every body part, and some of them will likely floor you. DM readers in London can see these on display at Sladmore Contemporary through January 31, 2014. If you can’t be there, a GORGEOUS book is available.

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Figures in a Landscape: Classic documentary on sculptor Henry Moore

When the poet Stephen Spender visited Henry Moore at his home in 1960, he asked the sculptor ‘what were the differences of his aims when he did an abstract drawing, or a representational one, or a portrait.’ Moore replied that there were at least 5 or 6 different kinds of drawing used in the process of creating work.

(1) The kind of drawing he made when he was trying to study the organic form of nature of an object. This was the kind of drawing which consisted of trying to find something out. He said in this connection that it was impossible for anyone to do drawings without making discovery about the structure of objects.

(2) Trying to describe the objects, for example, when he did a drawing of his daughter or some other life figure, or perhaps even of a bone.

(3) The kind of drawing he did when he was trying to clear his mind of an idea for a piece of sculpture: to plan it out, to see it from different angles and so on, to get an idea of what it would look like.

(4) Drawings which he would call exploratory. He would start simply perhaps by scribbling a few lines and then discovering from them a shape which led on to something else. These are the kind of drawings which arise from doodling.

(5) Drawings in which he attempted to explore the metamorphosis of objects. He would draw something realistically and then try to discover how it could take some other shape. He would turn realistic subjects into an abstraction through drawing it first realistically and then abstracting from it.

(6) What he called ‘imaginative’ drawings in order to create an atmosphere of dream. In this category, he would draw figures standing against a background.

Moore was influenced by Picasso (the solidity of flesh, the abstraction of figures) and primitive art, in particular Mexican which he described as ‘a channel for expressing strong hopes, beliefs and fears.’  Moore’s work continued in the tradition of celebrating the human condition. He aimed to bring an affinity between the human figure and the landscape. At times his abstract forms were not as easily assimilated by the viewer as more classical presentations - their scale and lack of identifiable facial features left the viewer to ponder their own humanity and role in the world. Sadly these days this seems to mean stealing Moore’s sculptures for scrap metal.

There was also great repetition with Moore - the lessons he had learnt in sketching the shadowy figures of Londoners sheltering from the Blitz in the Underground tunnels, was re-created time and again, while his attraction to mother and child most likely came from the personal heartache of his wife, Irina’s miscarriages, and the eventual joy at the birth of his daughter Mary.

In 1951, film-maker John Read (son of art critic Herbert Read) made the first documentary on Henry Moore, in which the sculptor explained the tradition of his work, his influences, and the process by which he created his own sculptures - form sketches, drawing, to models and casts.


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Banksy: New statue attacks ‘the lies, the corruption, the abuse’ of Catholic Church

A new work by Banksy was unveiled today at the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Called Cardinal Sin, the work is a bust of a priest with its face sheared-off, and replaced with a square of blank kitchen tiles, creating a pixelated effect. The statue is a response to the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. In a statement, Banksy said:

“The statue? I guess you could call it a Christmas present. At this time of year it’s easy to forget the true meaning of Christianity - the lies, the corruption, the abuse.

“I’m never sure who deserves to be put on a pedestal or crushed under one.”

Cardinal Sin is a replica of an 18th century bust and is displayed on a pedestal in a room filled with religious artworks from the same century, and has been loaned to the gallery indefinitely.
Via the Juxtapoz

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Life-like sculpture of Andy Warhol as an 83-year-old, unveiled

To commemorate Andy Warhol’s 83rd birthday on August 6th, the McDermott Galleries in Birmingham, England, are exhibiting a sculpture of what the 83-year-old might have looked like had he lived.

The sculpture is by Edgar Askelovic, a 23-year-old artists based in Birmingham, who spent 3 months working on it, and while the result may be incredibly “life-like”, it looks less like Andy Warhol and more like one of the two aged hecklers, Waldorf and Statler, from The Muppet Show.

For some strange reason, Warhol is posed in short pants - undergarments? - in a squatting position, which unfortunately makes the great artist look like he’s taking a poop. According to Askelovic, the pose is taken from a photograph, as explained on the McDermott Galleries blog:

“The pose of the piece is taken from a photograph of Warhol in the 60s.  He is a huge inspiration to me and I wanted to make sure that I did him justice with my work.”
“I thought long and hard about what he might look like today, which led me to sculpt him without his teeth and with the wrinkles that reflect the years that have now passed.  Although maybe there should also be a botox version – after all, he was a pioneer of all things new”

“I remember reading about Andy’s humble beginnings – his first film, titled Sleep, was an epic 6 hours long and all about one of his friends sleeping.  9 people attended the premiere apparently and only 7 stayed until the end – he was a true creative.” I also love this quote from Andy, it sort of sums up how I try to approach my own work:

“An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” 

—Andy Warhol on Art and Artists

Gallery owner Terence McDermott said: “The idea is that on Saturday if he was still alive he would have been 83-years-old so what Edgar has done is to use some artistic license to create his own interpretation of Warhol as an 83 year old. This wig is just as he would have worn it – a simple substitute for a cap.”

“It’s tragic to think about the life, art and advances Warhol missed out on.  I wonder what he would have done with the internet, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube…reality TV?!  Maybe there would even be a Warhol App?

“The thought of Andy Warhol in the digital age is mind blowing.  The world was always one step behind him and it’s such a shame he is not here with us.”

The sculpture is called Andy Walking, Andy tired, Andy take a little snooze, after a line from the David Bowie “Andy Warhol”, and is on sale for $16,355 (£9,995).


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Who is Bruce McLean? And what does he want?

Back in the 1980s, when I had nothing better to do than watch TV and collect unemployment benefit, I saw a video of the artist Bruce McLean. It was shown as part of Channel 4’s art series Alter Image in 1987, and after watching, my first thoughts were: Who the fuck is Bruce McLean and what does he want?

I was lucky, I had time to go and investigate. In the library, I found this:

Maclean / McLean an Anglicisation of the Scottish Gaelic MacGilleEathain. This was the patronymic form of the personal name meaning “servant of (Saint) John”.

Interesting. But not quite right. Later, there was more.

Working in a variety of mediums including painting, film and video projection, performance and photography, Bruce McLean is one of the most important artists of his generation.

It was with live works that McLean first grabbed the attention of the art world. An impulsive, energetic Glaswegian, he became known as an art world ‘dare-devil’ by critiquing the fashion-oriented, social climbing nature of the contemporary art world in the ‘70s. At St Martins his professors included the great sculptors of the day, Anthony Caro and Phillip King, whose work he mocked ruthlessly. In Pose Work for Plinths I (1971; London, Tate), he used his own body to parody the poses of Henry Moore’s celebrated reclining figures, daring to mock the grand master himself.

Pose Work for Plinths (1971)

The notion of using his whole body as a sculptural vehicle of expression led him to explore live actions: ‘it was when we (a collective) invented the concept of ‘pose’ that We could do anything’. Pose was live sculpture: Not mime, not theatre, but live sculpture. My colleagues, Paul Richards, Ron Carr, Garry Chitty, Robin Fletcher and I created Nice Style ‘The World’s First Pose Band’, which performed for several years, offering audiences such priceless gems as the ‘semi-domestic spectacular Deep Freeze, a four-part pose opera based on the lifestyle and values of a mid-west American vacuum cleaner operative’. Behind the obvious humour was a desire to break with the establishment, something that he has continued to do throughout his life and work. In 1972, for instance, he was offered an exhibition at the Tate Gallery, but opted, for a ‘retrospective’ lasting only one day. ‘King for a Day’ consisted of catalogue entries for a thousand mock-conceptual works, among them The Society for Making Art Deadly Serious piece, Henry Moore revisited for the 10th Time piece and There’s no business like the Art business piece (sung).

Now, I knew. Bruce McLean is a performance artist, a conceptual artist, a painter, a sculptor, a film-maker, a teacher, a joker, who knows art can be fun, which is always dangerous.

Bonus clips, including Tate Gallery interview with Bruce McLean, after the jump…

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Michael Hansmeyer’s incredible cardboard sculptures created by algorithms

Michael Hansmeyer is an architect and programmer who explores the use of algorithms and computation to generate architectural form, and he has created these incredible cardboard sculptures using algorithms. As he explains on his website:

In recent years, algorithms in architecture have been able to transcend their role as frameworks of formalization and abstraction. This has been made possible in a large part by the integration of scripting languages into CAD programs. Algorithms’ output can now be directly visualized, and through digital fabrication methods this output can be built.

This opens up a new role for algorithms as a design tool. As such, they provide the benefits of depth and breadth. On the one hand, their computational power can address processes with a scale and complexity that precludes a manual approach. On the other hand, algorithms can generate endless permutations of a scheme. A slight tweaking of either the input or the process leads to an instant adaptation of output. When combined with an evaluative function, they can be used to recursively optimize output on both a functional and aesthetic level.

As the New Scientist magazine reports, to make these sculptures:

...Hansmeyer started with a computer model of a simple Greek column and ran it through a subdivision algorithm which repeatedly splits the surface, creating more detail with each iteration.

The result is a 3D model with between 8 and 16 million faces, but 3D printers can only handle half a million, so Hansmeyer needed an alternative solution to transform his creations from virtual to physical reality. He sliced the column into 2700 pieces and used a laser cutter to create each slice from 1mm-thick cardboard, then reconstructed the column by layering the slices together with a solid wooden core. The whole process only cost $1500 and took about 15 hours, with three laser cutters working in parallel.

To see more of Hansmeyer’s work, check here.
With thanks to Iris Lincoln

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David Mach’s Incredible Sculptures
03:36 pm


David Mach

I met the artist David Mach in 1995, when he was building an installation out of newspapers called Whirl, at the Summerlee Museum, in Coatbridge, Scotland. We met for a short documentary I was making about his work, and spent the day filming him as he ripped up old copies of the Daily Record and tiered them into undulating sweeps that slowly filled out the space. It was incredible to watch and the resulting work was breath-taking.

Mach’s always had that ability to make something beautiful out of the mundane - sculptures from matchsticks (Elvis), coat-hangers (Gorilla), magazines. Being a sculptor informs all Mach does, as he once said:

“Being a sculptor leads everything I do. Every project I take on starts from that point. I believe that an artist must be an ideasmonger responding to all kinds of physical location, social and political environments, to materials, to processes, to timescales and budgets. I also believe that sculpture just about encompasses everything - a painting can be a sculpture, a TV ad can be a sculpture, a dance, a performance, a film, a video - all of thse kinds of art and many more can be sculpture.

When I have ideas I want to make them, and not just some of them, but all of them. As a result of that my sculpture covers a multitude of sins. I like to work in as many different materials as possible. It’s no understatement to say I am a materials junkie - jumping from highly-painted realistic cast fibreglass pieces to sculpture with coathangers, to a thatched barn roof laced with fibre-optics to designs for camera obscures (or at least the buildings to house them) and layouts for parks.”

It was 1983 when he first came to national prominence with Polaris, a submarine constructed out of 6,000 tires, built on the South Bank of the River Thames, at London’s Royal Festival Hall.

Polaris proved highly controversial with some, as Mach described the work as a protest against the nuclear arms race, which was then a hot-love-in between Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Reagan. It also led certain journalists, who really should have known better, feigning outrage and getting paid to write tedious column inches about “What is Art?”  Things reaced a tragic height, when one disgruntled (though arguably mentally ill) individual, decided to destroy Mach’s sculpture by setting fire to it. Unfortunately, he set fire to himself and later died in hospital.

In 2008, Mach reconstructed Polaris as part of his Size Doesn’t Matter show in Haarlem, Holland. This short film follows Mach through the construction process to the finished work.

Bonus pix, clips and interview with David Mach, after the jump…

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O, You Pretty Thing: The Wonderful World of Andrew Logan

I once met the artist, sculptor and jewelry-maker, Andrew Logan at a Divine concert in Edinburgh, circa 1984. He was charming and delightful and showed me a selection of his jewelry designs, including a ring with a tiny book attached. He told me there was nothing written in it yet, and full of youthful enthusiasm, I offered to write him something. I did, but never sent it. A pity, for opportunity only ever comes once.

Andrew’s work mixes Pop Art with Neo-Romanticism, and a pinch of English eccentricity. He is the only living artist with a museum in Europe, of which music maestro Brian Eno said:

‘Andrew’s work doesn’t offer that much to the would-be catalogue mystifier: if you start saying anything too pretentious about it, it sort of laughs in your face. It’s hard to place, because it doesn’t really quite belong anywhere, guilelessly straddling a number of heavily contested boundaries - such as those between art and craft, between art and decoration, between pop and fine, between the profane and sacred. But I don’t think this straddling is some sort of ideological position that Andrew has contrived - it’s just where he happens to find himself when he makes the work he wants to see.’

While the art critic and writer John Russell Taylor said:

‘Logan has achieved something beyond the reach of any other 20th Century British Sculptor, even Henry Moore: he has managed to open his own museum, dedicated entirely to his own work and carried it off with showbiz flair.’

Born in Oxfordshire in 1945, Andrew studied to become an architect at the Oxford School of Architecture, graduating in 1970, he then gave that all up to start a career as an artist, believing:

“Art can be discovered anywhere.”

He mixed with Duggie Fields, and Derek Jarman, and became an influence on Jarman’s early Super 8 films, which documented the social scene around Logan and Jarman’s studios at Butler’s Wharf.

In 1972, he started the now legendary the Alternative Miss World, a creative, free-reign competition, which was more about transformation than beauty. The event was filmed and made Logan rather famous.

But his work as an artist continued, and he was acclaimed for his beautiful and fun jewelry, used by such fashion designers as Zandra Rhodes; while his fabulous sculptures celebrated classic form with whimsy. 

Logan has generally found himself near the front of cultural developments. In 1976 his studios were the setting for Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood’s Valentine Ball, at which the Sex Pistols made their debut.

Since then, Logan has exhibited his sculptures and designs across the world - from London to St Petersburg, California to Baltimore.  His lifesize horse sculptures, Pegasus I and Pegasus II were displayed at Heathrow Airport, and his Icarus sculpture hangs in Guy’s Hospital. His jewelry was presented by Emmanuel Ungaro in Paris, and more recently it inspired designs for Commes Des Garcons.

This short documentary from Channel 4’s 1980s series Alter Image gives a delightful introduction to the wonderful world of Andrew Logan. Enjoy.


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Crazy Photographic Sculptures by Gwon Osang
09:40 am


Gwon Osang

Korean artist and photographer Gwon Osang builds his lightweight sculptures by taking hundreds of photographs of his subjects. Gwon Osang discusses his sculptures:

I began with photographs to make lightweight sculpture. I first made a chisel for wood and then stone. Following that I finished a work titled An Obsessive Report on Power (p. ), which consisted of an arm to symbolize material and the power to control it. I had created these because they were elements that I felt I lacked. Though I linked sculpture to photography, I think I was more interested in photography at the time.

In fact, it was people in photography who first responded to my work and at the time photography was more influential. I took full advantage of photography’s merits, not least of which was the ease of changing the object’s size. And I was fascinated by the commonality between film negatives and the plaster mold. This has helped me make the human body in all its different and often distorted forms.

Gwon Osang
(via accidental mysteries)

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