Giulio Monteverde

Funeral Monuments of Giulio Monteverde

Born on October 8th of 1837 in Bistagno, a municipality in the Piedmont region of Italy, Giulio Monteverde was a sculptor and educator. He moved with his family to Genova where he began, at the age of nine, his initial training at the Ligustica Academy of Fine Arts in Genova, under the guidance of sculptor Santo Varni. Monteverde also studied at Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, where he later obtained the position of Professor.

In 1865, Monteverde won the Pensionato Artistico Triennale, a three-year grant, which allowed him to relocate to Rome and establish his own studio. A neo-classical sculptor, his romantic-realist style achieved rapid success and critical acclaim, particularly in the United States. In 1886, Italian naval officer Enrico Alberto d’Albertis acquired a castle and commissioned a statue of the young Christopher Columbus from Monteverde. The 1870 white Carrara marble sculpture, “Colombo Giovinetto”, modeled from D’Albertis’s nephew Filippo, won a gold medal at an exhibition in Parma, Italy.

In 1873, Giulio Monteverde completed a narrative work, “Edward Jenner Vaccinating His Son Against Smallpox”, a life-sized marble sculpture, which he presented at the Vienna International Exposition. This was shown again at the 1878 Universal Exposition in Paris, and now resides at Rome’s National Gallery of Modern Art. Following his success a the Vienna Exposition, Monteverde, in the following year, sculpted a realistic, intricately detailed marble statue of the Roman water nymph, Egeria.

Most of Monteverde’s talent was dedicated to the execution of  religious sculpture and funerary monuments. The theme of the Angel of Death, or of the Night, was portrayed in a number of variations throughout Italy and Spain. The tomb of the Oneto Family, commissioned by Francesco Oneto, President of the General Bank, is located at the Staglieno Cemetery in Genoa. It portrayed a sensual angel holding the trumpet of Universal Judgement in his right hand, and was replicated many times by Monteverde for other families, an exmaple of which is the more demure angel leaning against the Llambi Campbell family vault in the Recoleta Cemetery of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

As an educator, Giulio Monteverde taught at Rome’s Acadey of Fine Arts; among his students were Argentine sculptor and medalist Victor de Pol and Lola Mora, a Argentine sculptor and a pioneer of women in her field. Monteverde was made an officer in the Legion of Honor in 1878 and, in 1889, became an Italian Senator. He passed away on October 3rd of 1917, at eighty years of age.

Bottom Insert Image: Giulio Monteverde, “Colombo Giovinetto (The Young Columbus)”, 1870, Carrara Marble, Museo della Culture del Mondo, Genoa, Italy

Egyptian Arched Harp

Egyptian Arched Harp (Shoulder Harp), circa 1390-1295 BCE, Wood, Diagonal Length 82 cm, Soundbox Length 36 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, spanning the period from 1550 to 1292 BCE,  is classified as the first dynasty of the New Kingdom, which was the era when ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power. This dynasty included the reigns of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun who ruled Egypt at a young age; Hatshepsut, the longest reigning woman pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty; and Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, who ruled with  his principle wife Nefertiti. Unique among the Egyptian dynasties, the Eighteenth Dynasty had two women who ruled as sole pharaoh: Hatshepsut, who ruled from 1470 to 1458 BCE, and Neferneferuaten, usually identified as Nefertiti, whose short reign extended from 1334 to 1332 BCE.

Arched harps were already in use during the Old Kingdom and remained the foremost string instruments until the end of the Middle Kingdom. From the New Kingdom onward, Egyptian arched harps co-existed with a great variety of harps in different shapes and sizes. During the later part of the New Kingdom, musicians experimented with new forms which could accommodate more  strings, eventually progressing from the arched bow harp with four or five strings to the classic full-sized arched harp with a leather soundboard and twenty-two strings. 

The smaller, more portable ancient Egyptian bowed shoulder harp became briefly more popular from about the reign of Tuthmosis III, who ruled from 1479 to 1425 BCE. The arched shoulder harp with the curved neck, preserved in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, is dated from 1390 to 1295 BCE. This harp has twelve strings and an open, slightly waisted sound box, whose opening was once covered with skin. Rope tuning rings under each string gave a buzzing sound to the soft-sounding tone produced. Topping the arched frame of the harp is a carved head of a Nubian captive who appears to be bound by the strings of the harp. 

This type of portable, boat-shaped arched harp was a favorite during the New Kingdom and is shown in the hands of processional female musicians performing alone or in ensembles with singers, wind instruments, rattles, and sistrums, small rattling percussion instruments made of brass or bronze. Prior to the Middle Kingdom, depictions of harpists feature men as the chief musicians. Harps and other instruments were used for praise singing and entertainment at festivals, temple rituals, court functions, funerals, and military events. Today, arched harps derived from these ancient Egyptian forms are still used in parts of Africa and Asia

Elise Ferguson

Paintings by Elise Ferguson

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1964, Elise Ferguson is a painter, sculptor, and print maker. The daughter of a mother who designed women’s clothing and a stepfather who was an architect, she spent her early life in a home of modern design elements, surrounded by a growing art collection.  

Ferguson initially began her formal art education at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She then received her BFA from The School of Art Institute in Chicago and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduation, Ferguson moved to New York, considered a mecca for the visual arts, to be surrounded by artists, similar-minded colleagues and galleries. She currently works out of a shared studio space with two other creative professionals a short distance from her Brooklyn home.

Inspired by architect Louis Kahn’s un-camouflaged use of cement in his designs, Elise Ferguson uses sculptural materials, including metal, pigmented plaster and ink on medium-density fiberboard, as a means of creating illusory space and preserving a series of compositional actions. While certain of her works allude to representational elements found in the studio or nature, Ferguson also creates pieces that are purely abstract with optical interactions of grid, lines and concentric circles.

Ferguson was a sculptor for twenty years before she focused on painting. Her “Retaining Wall”, a two-hundred foot length wall cast of urethane tiles reminiscent of a 1950s linoleum kitchen floor, was installed at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York in 2003. A similar sculpture entitled “Greenvine”, a patterned wall of green tiles executed in 2005, is installed at a private home in South Hampton, New York. Although she created distinctive sculptural works, Ferguson is best know for her textural paintings.

Incorporating her sculptural aptitude, Ferguson paints the majority of her work by using pigmented plaster on paper or panels. With the use of computer graphic programs, she draws her repeating and often undulating patterns, with purposefully placed imperfections and glitches. After they are drawn, Ferguson makes screen prints that she applies to the pigmented plaster. Although seemingly flawless, the imperfections seen on a closer look create a tension in the work between the geometric figure and the plaster build-up.

For her 2020 “Clamp” series, Elise Ferguson sought to translate her layering techniques used in her paintings to a handmade paper edition. These works of color and geometric patterns were accomplished by layering brightly colored linen pulps on cream or black cotton base paper sheets. Using her computer, Ferguson designed an undulating U-shaped wave of parallel lines which, once made into mylar stencils, made it possible to create thin, crisp lines on the base sheet. The resulting work, with its stenciled pulp lines, has a distinctive look, unique to the art of paper making.

Ferguson’s work has appeared in solo exhibitions at the Halsey McKay Gallery, the Romer Young Gallery and 57W57 Arts.  Her group exhibitions have included the Albada Jelgersma Gallery in Amsterdam, Ikast Kunstpakhus in Denmark, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, and the Barton Art Galleries, among others.  

Elise Ferguson has been recognized with several awards, including a Northern Trust Purchase Prize, an EAST International exhibition grant,  the Dieu Donne Papermill Workspace Grant, and residencies at Barton College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, MacDowell Colony, and the  Illinois State University.  She is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco.

Elise Ferguson’s website is located at http://www.eliseferguson.org

Insert Images:

Elise Ferguson, “Cloudbank”, 2018, Hand-Printed Block Print on Linen, 15 Feet in Length, Gallery Installation, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York,

Elise Ferguson, “Pile”, 2014, Pigmented Plaster on Panel, 60.1 x 60.1 cm, Private Collection

The Heliodor Tree Frog

Hans-Jürgen Henn and Alfred Zimmermann, “Heliodor Tree Frog”, Date Unknown, Heliodor and Gold, 15 cm in Height, Henn Gems

Designed by Hans-Jürgen Henn and Alfred Zimmermann, the “Heliodor Tree Frog” was intricately fashioned by master gemstone carver Alfred Zimmermann. The frog and its perch was carved from richly colored Ukrainian heliodor, a member of the beryl family known for its hexagonal crystals, vitreous luster, and range of color. The amphibian’s gemstone perch is set on a base of eighteen-carat yellow gold; the combined materials allude to the various textures of an exotic tree trunk in the wild.  

One of the most renowned lapidary artists of the last several decades, Alfred Zimmerman is a member of an Idar-Oberstein family of gemstone carvers. Originally an apprentice of Gerd Dreher, a fourth-generation stone carver, Alfred Zimmerman is also known for working in the “Fabergé” tradition. Zimmerman’s frequent subjects are either soldiers or peasants in folkloric attire but he is well known for animal carvings of transparent crystalline minerals. Zimmermann has recently retired after a long career of finely executed sculptures.

The third-generation of the Henn family in the gemstone trade, Hans-Jürgen Henn has over fifty years of experience in the trade. From an early age, he combined his passion for precious stones with mountaineering, during which he was always searching for the rare and undiscovered. Henn, the first to coin the expression Kashmir Peridot, had the passion and foresight to preserve the Dom Pedro Aquamarine as a single, dramatic stone. This stone, the largest aquamarine ever cut, was fashioned by Bernd Munsteiner, and gifted to the Smithsonian Institute in 2011.  

For information on exhibitions, jewelry, and objects of art, the Henn Gemstone website is located at: https://henngems.de/home/

Francesco Mochi

Francesco Mochi, “Saint Veronica”, 1629, Marble, 500 cm, Basilica di San Pietro, Vatican City

One of the most individual sculptors of his age, Francesco Mochi was born in July of 1580 at Montevarchi, Italy. His initial training was with Santi di Tito, one of the most influential painters of the fundamental Baroque style. Mochi also studied under Mannerist sculptor Giambologna, who exposed him to pictorial clarity and the importance of ability and design in drawing. Mochi moved to Rome circa 1599 and trained in the studio of sculptor Camillo Mariani, whose work in Venice and Rome formed a base for the Baroque style of the seventeenth century.

Francesco Mochi worked in many of the thriving cities of central Italy, including Florence, Rome, Piacenza, and Orvieto. His early career was aided by the powerful Farnese family who brought him many commissions. Mochi worked with sculptor Stefano Maderno on the papal commission for the Cappella Paoline in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome, where his travertine sculpture “Saint Matthew and the Angel” now resides. 

Mochi’s first major work was the dual-statue composition “Annunciation of the Virgin by the Angel”, which he completed in full by 1608. The polished smoothness of the marble surfaces and the audacity of Mochi’s composition is considered to have signaled the end point of Mannerism and the rise of the Baroque period. In the period between 1612 and 1620, Mochi created two works, commissioned by the Farnese family, consisting of monumental bronze equestrian statues of Ranuccio and Alessandro Farnese, both Dukes of Parma, which were erected in Piazza Cavalli in Piacenza. 

The statue of Ranuccio Farnese, executed first, is linked in style and type to earlier Renaissance models that depicted the rider as peacemaker and statesman, for example Giambologna’s Cosimo de’ Medici. However, in the statue of Alessandro Farnese, Francesco Mochi broke entirelynew ground to create the first dynamic equestrian monument of the Baroque. In an unprecedented manner, he used the device of a billowing cloak to unify the rider with the bulk of the horse and to create the illusion of warlike energy. During the casting, Mochi quarreled with the founder and took over the job himself; other than sculptor Domenico Guidi, he was the only major Roman sculptor with the expertise to cast his own work.

Finished with the equestrian statues, Francesco Mochi returned in 1629 to Rome, which was now dominated by the exuberant Baroque style of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who was fully in charge of major commissions. Mochi, whose work was no longer fashionable, was becoming increasingly bitter and disappointed as the number of commissions he received decreased. One of the requests he did receive in this period was a commission for Pope Urban VIII, which was given to him by Bernini, to sculpt a statue which would be placed in one of the four niches at the crossing piers in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

One of the four larger-than-life sculptures in the crossing of the Basilica, “Saint Veronica” displaying the lost Veil of Veronica, executed between 1629-1632, is the best known masterpiece of Mochi’s work. Gian Bernini provided models for three of the statues but gave Mochi free-reign with the design for Saint Veronica. Influenced by Hellenistic sculpture, Mochi conceived the figure in strongly emotional terms: In agony, Saint Veronica holds the Veil, a lost relic of the Christ’s passion, in trembling outstretched hands. Spiraling, thin, drapery folds create an illusion of motion, as though the figure is rushing from the niche in an effort to present the viewer with the miraculous imprint of Christ’s countenance upon the veil. 

Compared to the heroic calm of the figures designed by Gian Bernini, especially his design for the statue of Saint Longinus, Francesco Mochi’s work, both original and audacious, received much criticism and, due to its excessive motion, was seen to be unsuitable and overstepping the decorum of the Basilica. More and more frequently after this criticism, Mochi lost commissions to Bernini and high-Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi, and even had planned commissions rescinded or his finished work rejected by the patrons. Seen by his contemporaries as being a difficult and bitter man, Francesco Mochi died on the 6th of February in 1654.

Top Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Saint Veronica”, 1629, Detail, Marble, Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy

Middle Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Bust of a Youth”, 1630s, Marble on Variegated Black Marble Socle, 40.5 x 33 x 29 cm, Art Institute of Chicago

Bottom Insert Image: Francesco Mochi, “Angel of Annunciation”, 1603-1609, Marble, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Orvieto, Italy

Osiris-Antinous

Artist Unknown, “Osiris-Antinous”, 117-138 AD, Parian Marble, 241 x 77 x 79 cm, Musei Vaticani, Vatican City, Italy

This marble statue represents the Bithynian Greek youth Antinous, the favorite of Emperor Caesar Traianus Hadrianus. Born in the city of Claudiopolis, in now north-west Turkey, in November between 110 and 12 AD, according to early sources, Antinous was most likely the son of farmers or merchants. Having been taught to read and write, he would have had a basic education as a child.

Although little is known in surviving records about Antinous’s life, it is likely he first met Emperor Hadrian in June of 123 AD, during Hadrian’s visit to Claudiopolis while touring the Roman Empire. It is probable, due to Antinous’s young age, that Hadrian sent him to Italy, where he most likely was schooled at the paedgagium, the school to train young men as servants for the imperial palace, located at the Caelian Hill. Hadrian continued his tour of the Empire, returning to Italy in September of 125 AD, when he settled at his villa in Tibur. 

It was within three years that Antinous became Hadrian’s personal favorite, for Antinous was known to be in Hadrian’s personal retinue on his journey to Greece in 128 AD. It is known that Hadrian believed Antinous to be intelligent, and they both shared a love of hunting, which was seen as a manly pursuit in Roman culture. Early sources are explicit that the relationship between Hadrian and Antinous was sexual; and there is no evidence that Antinous ever exploited Hadrian for personal or political gain. 

In April of 128, Emperor Hadrian laid the foundation stone for a temple to Venus and Rome in the city of Rome, likely accompanied at the ritual by Antinous. From the middle of 128 to late September or early October of 130, Hadrian and Antinous, with an entourage, traveled to Greece, Syria, Arabia, Judaea, Libya, Alexandria, and Egypt, where they assembled at Heliopolis to set sail upstream as part of a flotilla along the Nile River. On their journey up the river, Hadrian and Antinous stopped at the Hermopolis Magna, the primary shrine to the god Thoth, leader of the eight principal deities of Egypt. 

In October of 130, during the period for the festival to Osiris, Antinous fell into the river, his death most likely resulting from drowning. Hadrian was devastated by the death; the local priesthood immediately deified Antinous, identifying him with Osiris due to the manner of his death. In keeping with Egyptian custom, Antinous’s body was mummified by priests and interred the following year, most likely, at Hadrian’s estate in Tibur, Italy, where an inscribed obelisk was erected.

Although the public and formal divination of humans was reserved for the Emperor and members of the imperial family, Hadrian declared Antinous a god and created a formal cult devoted to him, which was highly unusual and done without permission of the Senate. The cult  of Antinous spread through the Empire, especially between 133 and 138, the year of Hadrian’s death, with some seeing Antinous as hero or god, and into Egypt, where Antinous was seen primarily as a benevolent god who could aid and cure his worshipers.

Note: The iconographic model of “Osiris-Antinous”, shown above, was intended to express the regal and divine nature of the figure. The marble statue was donated to Pope Benedict XIV, and was placed in the Capitoline Museum in 1742. Pope Gregory XVI requested for it to be transferred to the Vatican in 1838 so it could be displayed in its new Egyptian Museum.

Jaques Augustin-Catherine Pajou

Jaques Augustin-Catherine Pajou, “Mercure ou le Commerce”, 1780, Detail, Marble, 196 x 86 x 82 cm, Richelieu Wing of the Louvre Museum, Paris

The son of famous sculptor Augustin Pajou, Jacques-Augustin-Catherine Pajou was born in August of 1766 in Paris, France. He was a painter, both of portraits and historical scenes, and a sculptor in the Classical style, with the emphasis on form, simplicity, proportion and the clarity of formal structure. In 1784, Pajou became a student at Paris’ Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. 

Pajou’s devotion to Greco-Roman art, developed by his later studies in Rome at the Académie Française, was evident throughout his career. For his diploma work at the Royal Academy, he sculpted his “Pluton Tenat Cerbere Enchaint  (Pluto Enchanting Cerebus)”, which was approved by the Royal Academy in 1759 and submitted for admission in 1760. This sculpture is now on view in the Louvre.

Jacques Pajou received a directive from King Louis XVI for the creation of statues to honor great Frenchmen. This led to a succession of work in the 1770s which included busts of naturalist Georges Buffon: Madame Du Barry, the last mistress of King Louis XV; and mathematician and scientist René Descartes. During this time, Pajou also sculpted a statuette of clergyman Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet, a master orator known for his sermons.

Jacques Pajou was appointed keeper of  King Louis XVI’s antiquities in 1777, and commissioned by the King to complete the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris, constructed by architect Pierre Lescot and sculptor Jean Goujon. Originally scheduled for destruction for sanitary reasons in 1787, it was saved, largely by the efforts of writer Quatremère de Quincy, and moved to Paris’ square Place Jaochim-du-Bellay. Pajou’s commission was to create a fourth façade for the fountain, in the same style as the other three, so that the fountain could be free standing.

The Gaddi Torso

Artist Unknown, “Gaddi Torso”, Second-Century BCE, Greek Marble, 84 cm, Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

This Hellenistic marble male torso was purchased in 1778 by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold I, from the Florence’s Gaddi Collection. There is no historical record of this work prior to the sale date; however, it was already in the collections of the Florentine Gaddi family in the early sixteenth-century, as Florentine artists and sculptors knew of it. 

The “Gaddi Torso” is derived from an earlier original work of the second-century BC. Although only the torso exists, it is clear that it was originally a Centaur whose hands were bound behind its back. What remains of the torso exhibits a young, muscled body with a twisted torso, straining against his bonds. This theme was represented several times in Hellenistic art, serving as an emblem of civilized control of Man’s baser nature.

The “Gaddi Torso” was used several times as a model for future works of art, particularly in the period between the sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries. An example of this is Italian Renaissance painter Amico Aspertini’s 1515 oil painting on panel, “Adoration of the Shepherds”, also at the Uffizi Museum, which shows the torso on the far left side, pictured resting on a marble base. Inspired by careful study of the “Gaddi Torso”, painter Rosso Fiorentino used it as the model for his body of Christ in the 1526 “Dead Christ with Angels”.

The “Gaddi Torso” remained with the Gaddi heirs until it was sold, still in its untouched fragmentary condition, to Grand Duke Leopold I. Like the fragmentary marble “Belvedere Torso” in the Vatican Museum, it was never restored by being completed, something previously undergone by most other Antique fragmentary sculptures.

José Manuel Castro López

The Sculptural Works of José Manuel Castro López

Born in 1959 in Vilasuso, a village located in northwest Spain, José Manuel Castro López studied sculpture at the Escola de Canteros, a stone-masonry university in Pontevedra, Spain, from 1980 until 1985. Inspired by the mythology of his native Galician culture, José López believes that stones are spirits of the land and, as an artist, it is his role to to conjure them. 

Starting with pieces of granite and quartz, José López grinds the natural stone into forms with creases and wrinkles, giving the illusion of sponge, clay forms, or soft, flowing fabrics. After the carving, he restores the stone’s original texture by removing any traces of his tool, resulting in the appearance of a slowly eroded natural stone. The added features he creates becomes very obvious against the stone’s natural appearance.

“My relationship with the stone is not physical, but magical. It recognizes me, it obeys me… we understand each other. My stones are not lifeless. They manifest themselves.” —-José Manuel Castro López

Nina Saunders

Nina Saunders: Sculptural Works

Born in 1958 in Odense, Denmark, Nina Saunders studied Fine Art and Critical Studies at Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design. Working across a wide range of materials, her artwork and installations play with the functions of objects, which appear familiar but question our preconceptions.

Saunders strips domestic objects of their comfort and use, turning them into odd, subversive works of art which project a disturbing sense of humor. Reclaimed sofas and chairs with floral patterned upholstery seem to melt into amoebic forms flowing across rooms, or take the form of bizarre creatures with swelling cushions and awkward angled legs.

Saunders’s work range from small objects such as upholstered hairbrushes and oddly-shaped, vinyl-wrapped dust pans with zippers to larger works, such as the 2017 “She May Not Be Your Friend But She is Your Hairdresser”, a sculptural work fashioned from a 1950s hairdressing chair, a deer head, plywood, foam, and deerskin.

Even when a Saunders installation scene seems normal, the effect can be mildly disturbing. In Saunders’s 2002 installation “Forever”, the scene is an ordinary middle-class room with limited-budget furniture, containing a potted plant, a gash in the wall, and a rocking swing suspended from the ceiling. Playing in the background is a loop of singer Engelbert Humperdinck singing the Demis Roussos song “Forever and Ever”. Although containing normal, recognizable objects, the scene is strikingly reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode.

Nina Saunders has exhibited her works at many international locations including the Pallant House in London,;Note Art Contemporanea in Arezzo, Italy; and The British Council in Brussels. Her work was in the group show “Hidden Histories, Untold Stories” at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London; the Nordic and Danish Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale; and the Museum of Modern Art in Vaasa, Finland.

Juan Coderch and Javier Malavia

Bronze Sculptures by Juan Coderch and Javier Malavia

Born in 1959 in Castellar del Vallés, Barcelona, sculptor Juan Coderch graduated from Barcelona’s Faculty of Fine Art in 1984. Sculptor Javier Malavia, born in 1970, in Oñati, Guipúzcoa, graduated from Valencia’s San Carlos Faculty of Fine Art in 1993, Discovering similarities in their sculptural art, they started the common project Coderch & Malavia in 2015, following in the tradition of figurative work by master sculptors such as Rodin, Mailol, and Bourdelle. 

Working from their studio and exhibition space in Valencia, Coderch and Malavia both share in the hands-on process of a single piece, each contributing to the creation of the sculpture. The figurative sculpture’s theme is taken from the common interests of both sculptors, particularly the theater, mythology, and the bullfight, with man and his life as the central focus.

Working in clay or wax initially, Coderch and Malavia’s finished works are cast in bronze. They model the human body in a classical tradition, featuring figures full of tension and movement, frozen in time but still depicting the intensity of their lives, and the myths these lives conjure up. 

Since the very beginning of their project, Coderch and Malavia have been seen as prominent figurative artists. For their 2017 “Hamlet”, they received the Reina Sofia Painting and Sculpture Prize; and their 2019 “Swan Dance” won First Prize at the 14th ARC International Salon Competition, held at Sotheby’s in New York.  

Coderch & Malavia have participated in more than fifteen collective and solo exhibitions in France, the United States, Mexico, Greece, and Italy, among others. Their bronze works are now a part of private collections in various countries of Europe, of Asia and America.

Walter Kirtland Hancock

Photographer Unknown, “Walker Hancock Working on His Angel of the Resurrection”, 1950, Silver Gelatin Print

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1901, Walter Kirtland Hancock studied for one year at Washington University’s School of Fine Arts, before transferring to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he studied under sculptor Charles Grafly from 1921 to 1925. Awarded the Prix de Rome fellowship, he studied at the American Academy in Rome from 1925 to 1928. Upon Grafly’s recommendation, Hancock became head of the sculpture department of the Pennsylvania Academy in 1929, a position he held until 1967, except for his military service and his years at the American Academy.

During World War II, Hancock served with the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives program formed under the Civil Affairs and Military Government Sections of the Allied Armies, to help protect cultural property and fine works of art located in the war areas. He was assigned to the French section, working alongside architect Captain Bancel LaFarge, preparing the list of monuments in France to be exempt from military use and to be considered for protection.

One of only ten MFAA officers attached to the British and American armies in northern Europe at the time, Hancock located numerous hidden depositories of works of art, arranged for their safeguarding during combat, and evacuated their contents to collecting points run by the U.S. Army. Among the depositories discovered was the vast collection in a copper mine at Siegen in early April of 1945. This repository contained, among other artworks, the relics of Charlemagne from the Aachen Cathedral; these artworks were all evacuated and transferred safely under the direction of Hancock himself.

After the war, Hancock’s commissioned medallic works include the Army and Navy Air Medals and the U.S. Air Mail Flyers Medal. His numerous portrait sculptures include the statue of General Douglas MacArthur at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and a bust of President George H.W. Bush for the U.S. Capitol Building rotunda in Washington, DC. Hancock also sculpted the Angel Relief at the Battle Monument Chapel in St. Avold, France, and the Flight Memorial at the West Point Academy.

For his artwork, Walker Hancock received the George D. Widener Memorial Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in 1925, the Herbert Adams Medal of Honor from the National Sculpture Society in 1954, the National Medal of Art conferred by the President in 1989, and the Medal of Freedom in 1990. Hancock lived and worked in Gloucester, Massachusetts until his death on December 30, 1998.

Considered to be Walker Hancock’s masterpiece, the thirty-nine foot tall bronze monument “Angel of the Resurrection” is located in the main concourse of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station. Dedicated by General Omar Bradley on August 10, 1952, the monument’s black granite pedestal bears the names of all 1,307 Pennsylvania Railroad employees who perished in World War II.

Pierre Julien

Pierre Julien, “Dying Gladiator”, 1779, Marble, 60 x 48x 42 cm, Richelieu Wing, Louvre, Paris

The “Dying Gladiator” was Pierre Julien’s second admission piece for the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and a crucial work for him. He had presented another piece for admission in 1776, a statue of Ganymede and had been refused, possibly due to his teacher, Guillaume II Coustou’s, lack of support for his too talented pupil. Humiliated by this unjust failure, Julien had thought of becoming a naval sculptor but, encouraged by friends, persevered and presented “Dying Gladiator” to the Académie in 1778. Acclaim for the sculpture at the 1779 Salon made amends for the affront of 1776. Pierre Julien  was admitted to the Académie on 27th of March, 1779, and appointed an assistant teacher in 1781.

In this scholarly work, Pierre Julien demonstrated his mastery of academic criteria while asserting personal qualities and his knowledge of antique sculpture. He was reinterpreting the “Dying Gladiator” in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, a marble copy of which he had sculpted during his three-year stay at the Académie de France in Rome. Julien’s nude gladiator demonstrates his complete mastery of anatomy,. But it was the sculptor’s personal contribution which imbues the work with its sensitivity: the elegant proportions, unctuous modeling and delicate execution in the finesse of the hands, laurel leaves and strands of hair; the marble’s perfect finish and the rendering of textures, illustrated by the suggestion of metallic brilliance in the sword and shield.

The work is a dazzling testimony to the renaissance of classical sensibility, although in a codified genre. The return to antiquity and nature, begun in the 1740s by the sculptors Edme Bouchardon and Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, asserted itself in the 1770s. Julien was exalting the heroism of a man overcoming his pain and stoically dying in silence. The balanced composition, dignified pose, discreet chest wound and restrained expression are formal echoes of this heroic serenity. Like the “Laocoon”, one of the most admired antique statues at that time, the gladiator is in agony but not crying out in pain; and it is this dignity in suffering which makes the figure more sensitive and inward-looking.

Information reblogged with thanks to Valerie Montalbetti

Brixel Mirror

BREAKFAST, “Brixel Mirror”, 2018, Kinetic Art Installation, Brooklyn, New York

Founded in 2009, BREAKFAST is a new media artist collective focused on creating innovative software and hardware driven artworks. These sculptures connect viewers to far-away places through interactive experiences, telling stories about our rapidly changing world. 

The studio’s practice employs a unique blend of mechanical engineering, computer science, and playful aesthetics to invite audiences to reflect on the relationship between the physical and  the digital, as well as the global and the intimate. The sculptures reflect the evolving relationship between human bodies and the technological innovation of the information age.

The “Brixel Mirror” is a 19 foot wide by 6 foot-tall installation made up of 540 Brixels, black on one side and polished aluminum on the other. The kinetic sculpture is the first installation built by BREAKFAST to utilize their new technology, which is a digitally controlled system that rotates each “brick” to make them act as pixels. The “Brixel Mirror” can cycle between various content, including “Silhouette” where, when you approach the installation, the Brixels directly in front of you rotate, creating a mirror that matches your silhouette that moves with you giving a one-to-one reflection.

BREAKFAST’s artworks have been exhibited worldwide, including the World Trade Center in New York City, the Houston Space Center in Texas, the 2019 Momeni Exhibition in Hamburg, Germany,  Google in Moscow, and at Christie’s in New York City. There are many permanent installation sites, including the Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, the WNDR Museum in Chicago, and the Hudson Yards in New York City. 

Many thanks to BREAKFAST’s site: https://breakfastny.com/works

Giovanni Francesco Susini

Giovanni Francesco Susini, “The Farnese Bull”, 1613, Bronze, 46.5 x 38 x 38 cm

Giovanni Francesco Susini, known as Gianfrancesco, was born in Florence, Italy, in 1585. He was trained as a junior member in the Florence workshop of Flemish sculptor Giambologna, where his uncle was the principal  bronze-caster. In 1624-1626, Gianfrancesco spent time in Rome where he experienced both the classical and the emerging statuary of the Baroque movement; however, he had already established for himself a Mannerist style of exaggeration and tension in his work.

Gianfrancesco’s first independent commission, by the Medici Grand Dukes, was a bronze bas-relief for a chapel altar in 1614. For a sculpture to be placed in the Medici family’s Boboli Gardens, he produced a small figurative bronze with thrashing figures set on a small oval plinth. Gianfrancesco also contributed two other works to the Boboli Gardens; “Cupid Breaking a Heart with a Hammer” and “Cupid Shooting an Arrow”, both set in the Vasca dell’Isola, or the Island Basin of the Gardens.  In 1615 for the main entrance of the Santissima Annunziata, he created two containers of bronze for holy water, acquasantiere, to be placed on the columns. 

Gianfrancesco’s designs usually employ complicated, balanced relationships of figures, usually two or three, meant to be appreciated from multiple viewpoints. All of his bronze smaller works, including the table sculptures, were finely cast and finished, viewable from all sides. 

Few sculptures by Gianfrancesco bear his signature. A signed marble statue “Bacchus and a Young Satyr” is exhibited in the Louvre Museum; the 1627 “Abduction of Helen” now in the Los Angeles Getty Museum; the 1639 “Venus Burning the Arrows of Love”, the 1638 “Venus Chastising Love”, and the “Gaul Committing Suicide”, all now in the Louvre. Gianfrancesco’s small bronze “David with the Head of Goliath” is now at the Liechtenstein Museum in Venice. Both sculptor and caster, Giovanni Francesco Susini died in Florence, Italy, on October 17, 1653.

Inspired by the ancient marble sculpture of the Farnese Bull excavated from the Baths of Caracall in 1545, Gianfrancesco made his bronze group “The Farnese Bull” in 1613. The group was expertly cast in several components, invisibly joined together, and engraved. Several castings of this work were made, located now at the Galleria Borghese, noted in the collection with a ebony pedestal in 1625, and at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg; 

The rather obscure myth behind this sculpture can be located in Lemprière’s “Classical Dictionary” published in 1788: 

“Dirce was a woman whom Lycus, King of Thebes, married after he had divorced Antiope. When Antiope became pregnant by Jupiter, Dirce suspected her husband of infidelity to her bed, and imprisoned Antiope, whom she tormented with the greatest cruelty. Antiope escaped from her confinement, and brought forth Amphion and Zethus on mount Cithæron. When these children were informed of the cruelties to which their mother had been exposed, they besieged Thebes, put Lycus to death, and tied the cruel Dirce to the tail of a wild bull, which dragged her over rocks and precipices, and exposed her to the most poignant pains, till the gods, pitying her fate, changed her into a fountain, in the neighborhood of Thebes.”

Mark Manders

Sculptural Work by Mark Manders

Born in 1968 in Volkel, The Netherlands, Mark Manders currently lives and works in Ronse, Belgium. He first studied graphic design, but soon changed his studies to sculpture, becoming interested in the paralleled evolution of humans and objects.

Mark Manders is best known for his rough-hewn, unfired clay sculptures, often later cast in bronze, and his installations of randomly arranged objects. Over thirty years of work, Mark Manders has developed an endless self-portrait in the form of sculpture, still life, and architectural plans. His works present mysterious and evocative tableaux that allow viewers to construct their own narrative conclusions and meanings.

Manders’ first conception of the self-portrait, inspired by an interest in writing, was more literal and employed language and the written word in the form of an autobiography. He later began to explore the architecture of story telling, focusing on structure, rather than on specific content. This early realization has resulted in a continually expanding body of sculptural investigations of form, meaning and narrative.

In 2010, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles opened a major retrospective of Mark Manders’ work entitled “Parallel Occurrences / Documented Assignments”,  which later traveled to the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado, The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, through 2012. Manders represented the Netherlands in 2013 at the 55th Venice Biennale. He also had solo exhibitions at Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, and the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporanea in Santiago de Compostel, Spain, both in 2014, Manders has had three solo exhibitions at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, with locations both in Los Angeles and New York City.

Mark Mander’s 2017 sculptural work “September Room (Room with Two Reclining Figures and Composition with Long Verticals”, shown in image one, is now part of the Minneapolis Sculptural Garden at the Walker Art Center. Positioned in one of the Garden’s original formal quadrants, Manders’s commission consists of a grouping of five bronze sculptures combining human forms, architecture, and everyday objects, to suggest both the ancient and new.

Monument to the Battle of Nations

The Monument to the Battle of Nations, Frontal View, Leipzig, Germany

The “Monument to the Battle of Nations” is a war memorial in Leipzig, Germany, to the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. It was completed in 1913 for the 100th anniversary of the battle, at a cost of six million Goldmarks, paid for mostly in donations and by the city of Leipzig. 

The monument commemorates Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig, a crucial step toward the end of hostilities in the War of the Sixth Coalition, and was seen as a victory by the inhabitants of the area. The coalition armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria and Sweden were led by Tsar Alexander I of Russian and Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg. There were German soldiers fighting for both sides, as Napoleon’s troops also include conscripted Germans from the French-occupied left bank of the RhineRiver as well as from the Confederation of the Rhine. 

The structure is ninety-one meters tall, containing over five hundred steps to a viewing platform at the top, from which one can view the city and environs. The structure makes extensive use of concrete, with its facings consisting of granite. Regarded as one of the best examples of Wilhelmine architecture and one of the tallest monuments in Europe, it is said to stand on the spot of the bloodiest fighting, from where Napoleon ordered the retreat of his army. It was also the scene of fighting in World War II, when Nazi forces in Leipzig made their last stand against US troops. 

Shortly after the battle, Ernst Moritz Arndt, a leading liberal and nationalistic writer, called for a national monument to be built at the battle site. Several small monuments to veterans of the war as well as memorial stones marking key points in the battle were placed. On the fiftieth anniversary of the battle, a cornerstone for a future grand monument was placed, and twenty-three German cities pledged money for its construction. In 1894, the Association of German Patriots was founded, which raised by means of donations and a lottery, the funds necessary to construct the monument for the 100th anniversary of thee battle. 

German architect Bruno Schmitz, due to his previous works in monuments, received the commission. The city of Leipzig donated the ten acre lot and  construction began in 1898. Over twenty-six thousand granite blocks were used and the resulting total cost was twenty-eight million in 2020 Euros. On the 18th of October 1913, the ‘Völkerschiachtdenkmal’ was inaugurated in the presence of one hundred thousand people, including Wilhelm II, and all the reigning sovereign rulers of the German states.

Thomas Banks

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1795, Etching, 26 x 35.7 cm, Published by Richard Morton Paye, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Thomas Banks, “The Falling Titan”, 1786, Marble, 85 x 90 x 58 cm, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Born in 1735 in London, Thomas Banks was educated in Ross-on Wye, a small market town on the River Wye in Herefordshire. He was apprenticed to woodcarver William Barlow in London from 1750 to 1756, during which time he also studied at the studio of Flemish classical sculptor Peter Scheemakers. Banks also enrolled in the St. Martin’s Lane Academy and exhibited several works at the Free Society of Artists during the 1760s. 

Banks was admitted to the Royal Academy Schools in 1769, and had his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1770. In 1772, he became the first sculptor to receive the Academy’s traveling scholarship, which enabled him to travel to Rome. Banks lived in Rome between 1772 and 1779, when due to illness and financial disappointments, he returned to England. After two years in England, his desire to accomplish larger-scaled works took him to St. Petersburg in 1981 where he received commissions from Catherine the Great. who purchased his Neo-Classical “Cupid”. 

On his return to England, Thomas Banks received a number of commissions for church memorials, which included the monuments to Sir Eyre Coote and Sir Clifton Wintringham in Westminster Abbey, and monuments to Captain George Westcott and Captain Richard Burgess in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Bank’s best known work is perhaps the colossal sculptural group “Shakespeare Attended by Painting and Poetry”, commissioned in 1788 for the upper facade of the new Shakespeare Gallery in Pall Mall in Central London. It remained there until 1869, when upon the building’s demolishment, it was moved to New Place, the site of Shakespeare’s final residence.

Thomas Banks was elected in 1784 as an associate of the Royal Academy. In recognition of the support he had been given by the Academy earlier in his career, Banks presented “The Falling Titan” to the Royal Academy as his Diploma work after he was elected as a full member Academician in 1786. In comparison with the Diploma Works deposited by the earlier Academician sculptors Edward Burch, Joseph Nollekens and John Bacon, “The Falling Titan” was an extremely prestigious work to present.

Thomas Banks died in London on February 2, 1805, and became the first sculptor to have a tablet erected in his name in Westminster Abbey. He is buried in Paddington Churchyard. 

Note: Thomas Banks’ Neo-cCassical “Cupid”, purchased by Catherine the Great, was a marble statue on a pedestal. In order to save the work from the advancing German troops in World War II, the curator of the Pavlovsk Palace buried the statue next to its pedestal. Upon his return in 1944, no trace of the statue could be found; excavations for the work during a restoration garden project in the 1980s proved fruitless. More complete information on the statue’s history can be found at: https://www.thefreelibrary.com/Thomas+Banks%27s+missing+%27Cupid%27%3A+the+sculptor+Thomas+Banks+is…-a0128792200

L’Horloge du Musée

Photographer Unknown, Gold-Framed Interior Clock, Atrium of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

On the eve of the 1900 World Fair, the French government ceded land to the Orleans railroad company, who, disadvantaged by the remote location of the Gare d’Austerlitz, planned to build a more central terminus station on the site of the ruined Palais d’Orsay. In 1897, the company consulted three architects: Lucien Magne, Emile Bénard and Victor Laloux. The project was a challenging one due to the vicinity of the Louvre and the Palais de la Légion d’honneur: the new station needed to be perfectly integrated into its elegant surroundings. Victor Laloux, who had just completed the Hôtel de Ville in Tours, was chosen as winner of the competition in 1898.

The station and hotel, built within two years, were inaugurated for the World Fair on July 14th, 1900. Laloux chose to mask the modern metallic structures with the façade of the hotel, which, built in the academic style using finely cut stone from the regions of Charente and Poitou, successfully blended in with its noble neighbours. Inside, all the modern techniques were used: ramps and lifts for luggage, elevators for passengers, sixteen underground railtracks, reception services on the ground floor, and electric traction. The open porch and lobby continued into the great hall which was 32 metres high, 40 metres wide and 138 metres long.

From 1900 to 1939, the Gare d’Orsay was the head of the southwestern French railroad network. The hotel received numerous travellers in addition to welcoming associations and political parties for their banquets and meetings. However, after 1939, the station was to serve only the suburbs, as its platforms had become too short for the modern, longer trains that appeared with the progressive electrification of the railroads.

The Gare d’Orsay then successively served different purposes : it was used as a mailing centre for sending packages to prisoners of war during the Second World War, then those same prisoners were welcomed there on their returning home after the Liberation. It was then used as a set for several films, such as Kafka’s “The Trial” adapted by Orson Welles, and as a haven for the Renaud-Barrault Theatre Company and for auctioneers, while the Hôtel Drouot was being rebuilt.

The hotel closed its doors on January 1st, 1973, not without having played a historic role: the General de Gaulle held the press conference announcing his return to power in its ballroom (the Salle des Fêtes).

In 1975, the Direction des Musées de France already considered installing a new museum in the train station, in which all of the arts from the second half of the 19th century would be represented. The station, threatened with destruction and replacement by a large modern hotel complex, benefitted instead from the revival of interest in nineteenth-century architecture and was listed on the Supplementary Inventory of Historical Monuments on March 8, 1973. The official decision to build the Musée d’Orsay was taken during the interministerial council of October 20, 1977, on President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing’s initiative. The building was classified a Historical Monument in 1978 and a civil commission was created to oversee the construction and organisation of the museum. The President of the Republic, François Mitterrand, inaugurated the new museum on December 1st, 1986, and it opened to the public on December 9th.

Anna Hyatt Huntington

The Sculptural Work of Anna Hyatt Huntington

A master of naturalistic animal sculputes, Anna Hyatt Huntington was born in 1876 in Cambridge, Massachusetts to Adiella Hyatt, an amateur landscape artist, and Alpheus Hyatt, a professor of paleontology and zoology at Harvard University and MIT. During her childhood years, she developed a passion for drawing and an extensive knowledge of anatomy and animal behavior.

After studying several years to become a concert violinist, Huntington switched her studies to sculpture under portrait sculptor Henry Hudson Kitson at his Boston studio. Her first one-woman show, consisting of forty animal sculptures, was held in 1900 at the Boston Arts Club. During this year, Huntington produced her first commissioned work; two Great Danes cut from blue granite for wealthy Boston merchant Thomas Lawson.

After the death of her father and marriage of her sister, Huntington  left Boston, moving to New York City. She attended the city’s Art Students League, studying under marble sculptor George Grey Barnard and Hermon MacNeil, whose sculptures concentrated on American Indian subjects. Huntington studied briefly under Gutzon Borgium, the designer of Mount Rushmore, but left after criticizing his knowledge of animal anatomy. Choosing to be more independent, she started spending most of her time at the Bronx Park Zoo and circuses to model animals. The result of her observations there were her first major works: the 1902 equestrian work “Winter Moon” and the 1908 “Reaching Jaguar”.

Anna Huntington shared a studio with sculptor Abasteria St. Leger Eberle for several years, collaborating in partnership on works for two years. Two of their collaborative works were: “Men and Bull”, which won a bronze medal at the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and “”Boy and Goat Playing” which was exhibited at the gallery of the Society of American Artists in 1906. Between 1906 and 1910, Anna Huntington, confident of her skills, traveled several times between New York, Paris and Naples, working on commissions and exhibiting her works.

After an early model of a Joan of Arc equestrian statue gained honorable mention in the 1910 Paris Salon, Huntington received a commission by the City of New York to produce a life-sized bronze statue from the model. After extensive research on medieval armor at the Metropolitan Museum and a search for the perfect horse model, Huntington finished the large-scale “Joan of Arc” clad in a full suit of medieval armor. The unvieling occurred on December 6th of 1915, marking it as New York City’s first monument made by a woman, and the first monument to feature a real woman of history as its subject.

In 1923 Anna Huntington married her husband, railroad heir and philanthropist Archer Milton Huntington, who supported her work both financially and emotionally. Anna Huntington continued to work on her sculptures, winning new commissions including the equestrian work “El Cid Campeador”, the cast-aluminum “Fighting Stallions” at Brookgreen Gardens in South Carolina, and “Diana” installed in 1948 at the National Academy of Design. 

In the late 1930s, Anna and Archer Huntington donated their Fifth Avenue townhouse to the National Academy of Design. A few years later, as Archer Huntington became quite ill, they donated their Haverstraw, New York, estate and zoo to the state of New York. In 1931, Anna and Archer Huntington established  Brookgreen Gardens, the first public sculpture garden in the United States. 

Following Archer Huntington’s death in 1955, Anna Huntington returned to full-time art work, despite being in her 80s. Between 1959 and 1966, she completed five more equestrian statues, including one of the late nineteenth century writer and activist  José Marti, one of a young Abraham Lincoln, and one of a young Andrew Jackson. On Huntington’s ninetieth birthday in 1966 she was still working, reportedly on a bust of the composer Charles Ives. Around the end of the 1960s, Huntington finally retired from creative work. She died on October 4, 1973, in Redding, Connecticut, following a series of strokes at the age of 97.

Note:  The Brookgreen Gardens contain many of Huntington’s works and many figures by other artists, the acquisitions being a boon to struggling artists of the Depression era. Now a National Historic Landmark, it is the most significant collection of figurative sculpture, in an outdoor setting, by American artists in the world. It also has the only zoo accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and contains thousands of acres of Wildlife Preserve.