I tend to prefer abstract sculpture— however, even in more representative work, there is plenty of abstractness to find and appreciate. Take the Rodin exhibition currently at the Portland Art Museum. Subtitled “The Human Experience,” the exhibition certainly showcases the representational aspects of Auguste Rodin’s masterful bronze works. The 52 bronzes in the show are almost entirely of human forms, and are curated so that the viewer learns about the process by which the sculptor produced the works both in detail and at scale. In re-using aspects of previous works, Rodin allowed particular characteristics of the human form to span across his oeuvre, and the viewer can immediately sense these pieces of humanity— hands, torsos, heads, limbs— extending throughout the gallery, like memories or ghosts of the many models that the artist employed to create these testaments to the human form. Continue reading
Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s coral reef crocheted project has been shown all over the world, but the current exhibition of their work and that of their many worldwide collaborators at Museum of Art and Design’s Crochet Coral Reef: Toxic Seas show is one of the best that I’ve seen. Continue reading
It’s easy to think of sculpture as art in three dimensions. But at root, sculpture is about space.
Walking into the Center for Contemporary Native Art gallery at the Portland Art Museum to see the Salish weaving show Restoring the Breath— Sacred Relationship, I wasn’t immediately struck by the use of space in the way that I would be at a more traditional exhibition of sculpture. And yet, the space is in the room. Continue reading
Artist Sterling Crispin has been engaging in a remarkable project over the course of the year: designing software to simulate the “growth” of a plant in a 3D model, which can then be printed using standard 3D printing equipment. He was kind enough to explain to me how this project is going, what it means to “grow” something in simulation, and how it fits in with the work of other artists working with additive sculpture technologies. Continue reading
Margaret Dreikausen, in her book Aerial Perception: The Earth as Seen from Aircraft and Spacecraft and Its Influence on Contemporary Art, notes the difference between two different views of the ground from the air. There is the vertical angle, or directly above, as we perceive the ground from a high-altitude aircraft or see the earth from the satellite perspective of Google Maps. And then there is the oblique angle, seen from lower altitude aircraft, looking outward over the landscape. According to Dreikausen, “the oblique angle gives a sense of wide-open space and is perceived in terms of aerial perspective involving the gradients of color and texture.” The oblique angle accentuates perspective, the three-dimensional shape of buildings, and the topography of the earth. Dreikausen traces how the oblique was first theorized in art as far back as Leonardo Da Vinci, who wrote about the way the views through the atmosphere change color and light, and the way perspective is shaped by far-off distance. She also notes the use of similar techniques in the paintings of Yvonne Jacquette and Susan Crile in more contemporary times. Continue reading