Research on Sculptors

Richard Serra is an American minimalist sculptor known for working with large-scale assemblies of sheet metal. His early work was quite controversial and extremely disliked by some (his sculpture Tilted Arc (1981) that was installed in Federal Plaza in New York was later removed and destroyed. The subject of an artist’s rights to his or her work was heavily debated and he said at the time, “I don’t think it is the function of art to be pleasing.”) but he has more recently grown much more popular, he thinks the key to this is his use of curves.  Much of Serra’s work hangs on the idea that the viewer is the subject of the piece, they’re experience becomes the content. This idea is shown at his exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery in London, a show that uses giant steel curves. Sean O’Hagan who interviewed Serra for The Guardian said of the work:

The monumental weight of these burnished sculptures is tangible as soon as you enter the space. Though big and airy, it seems barely able to contain them.

One of his pieces for the show consisted of two huge curves of oxidised steel, one convex in shape and one concave. The experience of walking along the two is said to be radically different, though they are identical opposites in each other. One is said to loom above you, feeling womb like and the other is said to feel as though it is in danger of falling away, drawing all light into its centre. Many of his pieces seem to defy logic as well as gravity. I think in my own work, trying to create a feeling of the piece might be difficult because of its digital nature, but it is something I would like to explore – to see if something that doesn’t really exist can convey an emotion to the audience.

Henry Moore, from Yorkshire, was a sculptor who worked in stone, wood and later in bronze. He quickly estabilshed himself as one of Britians leading young artists, emerging from the modernist movement in the 1920s. Abstractions were his primary motif and following African, Precolumbian and Mexican exhibits at the British Museum, much of his work was inspired by primitive, organic forms but also drew on elements of abstract, surrealist and classical styles. In the documentary Five British Sculptors (Work and Talk) by Warren Forma, Moore said, “In my opinion, everything, every shape, every bit of natural form, animals, people, pebbles, shells, anything you like are all things that can help you make a sculpture.” In 1946, Moore’s sculpture was presented at a one man exhibition at MOMA, New York. Two years later, he won the Internation Prize at Venice Biennale. After 1950, with sponsorship from the British Council, he executed large scale public projects. His exploration of his signature reclining figure lead him to an increasingly abstract style in his work. Earlier figures deal with mass, while his later work contrasts the solid elements of his sculptures with space, both around and through them. Following the birth of his daughter, Moore’s sculptures began to feature the depiction of a family unit. Moore’s heightened success later provided him with the means to work increasingly in bronze. Many of his sculptures during this period are at a monumental scale of which he had always desired for his work. The size of these sculptures, that celebrate the beauty of organic forms, have an overwhelming presence that creates a relationship between the sculpture, the site and the viewer. I like the way that Henry Moore uses parts of his own life as inspiration for his sculpture, and this is something I would like to explore in my project.

Anthony Caro’s famous work is constructed and welded in steel, compromising beams, girders and other found elements in bright colours. Following on from working as a part-time assistant for Henry Moore, Caro achieved widespread recognition in the early 1960s after his 1963 Whitechapel show that featured 15 abstract sculptures, a style he abandoned his previous figurative way of working in favour of. His work caused a sensation, some people refused to call it a work of art but his idea of placing his sculptures on the floor, bringing them into the spectators own space, made a huge difference to how they were received. Caro said, “when I began, being a sculptor might have meant producing statues of generals on horseback. But I always pushed forward, and have had a career that would have been unimaginable even to myself back then.” For my own work, I would like to take inspiration from Caro’s idea of the place in which the work is place has an effect on the way the viewer perceives it. In regards to the shapes used in his work, I think they are a little more impersonal than I would want to use in my own, I think I would like to include more fluid forms that suggest something more intimate.

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