Category: Sculpture

Miscellany. 10.15.12.

River wreck ’12 (bow), at the Cacapon River in West Virginia, a 60-ft intervention by R.L. Croft. Find more images of his outdoor work here. (Photo courtesy of the artist.)

Conservation Diary: Mark di Suvero on Governor’s Island.

From top to bottom: Untitled, Fruit Loops (2003) and Rust Angel (1995) — all sculptures by Mark di Suvero on Governor’s Island in New York. (Photos by San Suzie.)

I recently braved the hundred-degree heat on Governor’s Island with a group of 30 or so conservators, curators, public art managers, fabricators, artist estate/foundation directors, and paint specialists to see an installation of Mark Di Suvero sculptures. The exhibit, which was organized by the Storm King Art Center, consists of a cluster of 11 big-to-monumental pieces that are a case study in industrial boner art. Crafted out of over-sized steel flotsam, many of them are rusted, gnarled or scarred. In some cases, they’ve been sprayed with the orange-red paint that Di Suvero has favored for decades.

My visit to Governor’s Island was part of a three-day meeting of conservation experts in New York. Sponsored by the Getty Conservation Institute and held at the Metropolitan Museum, the aim of the meeting was to figure out how to best care for pieces that occasionally require a paint overhaul because they spend their life outdoors: getting devoured by salt air, frozen in ice, or stewing in a lethal combination of heat and moisture. On sculptures such as Di Suvero’s, the elements can literally shred the paint. As part of the conservation process, it is then necessary to remove all of the old paint and completely re-coat the piece.

But it’s not that easy. Before we can even think about repainting, there are all kinds of questions that have to be answered as to what would constitute an appropriate new coating — both chemically and aesthetically. Using case studies of works by Lichtenstein, Di Suvero, Oldenburg, Tony Smith, Nevelson, Lewitt and several others, we had a nerdfest over issues such as defining the character of a paint coating (answer: color, gloss, and texture) and we debated how to best identify an artist’s intent. The latter is, naturally, the slipperier prospect, since artists are known to not write things down, use materials for arbitrary reasons (they’re crappy but aesthetically pleasing!) and change their minds over time.

There was also plenty of debate on how to keep skateboarders from shredding the surface of a painted sculpture. My view: You don’t. But if you insist, try building them so they don’t resemble skateboard ramps.

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Calendar. 07.05.12.

A sculpture by Robert Franca, on view at Valentine. Part of the group show Bob Seng, Robert Franca, Vince Gargiulo. Opens Friday, in Bushwick, Brooklyn. (Image courtesy of the artist and Valentine.)

Calendar. 05.16.12.

From an exhibit by Los Carpinteros at the Faena Arts Center in Buenos Aires, opening Thursday. (Image courtesy of the artists and Faena.)

Miscellany. 05.11.12.

Mercury: Principle of Polarity: The Orbital Rebus by Mel Chin, at the New Orleans Museum of Art. (Courtesy of the artist.)

Sculpture by 3D! NYC. (Via Make.)

The New Aesthetic 101
There’s been a lot of chatter on the internetz about the New Aesthetic, a cultural theory that posits that man is starting to see and interpret the world in machine-like ways — specifically, computer-ish ways. (Think: pixel-y sculpture, like the one at right.) All of this was stirred up by writer/design James Bridle and released into the media wilds at a panel at SXSW. (Sort of covered in this rambling essay by Bruce Sterling in Wired.) But, for my money, if you’re really trying to get at what the new lingo purports to describe, see Joanne McNeil’s notes — in which she succinctly examines (with images) how technology has affected the way we see and, as a result, produce culture.

Random Linkage

Photo Diary: The Dawn of Egyptian Art at the Met.

I’ll admit it: I often glaze over when I enter the Met’s Egyptian galleries, which are full of monumental everything covered in stiff hieroglyphics. But a new exhibit devoted to works created prior to the consolidation of pharaonic power in Egypt is mind-blowing for the humble scale of the pieces (many of which could fit in the palm of a hand) and their charming spontanaeity. Not to mention that some of these works are totally effin’ cute: those early Egyptians sure knew how to carve dogs.

The best part is that this show isn’t in the over-trampled Egyptian wing, but in the Lehman Gallery, at the rear of the museum. (That awful space that looks like a 1980s cruise ship atrium.) Which means it’s nice and quiet — making this just the right kinda show for a 420 chill.

The Dawn of Egyptian Art is up through August 10 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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