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.

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.”

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.

Henry Moore

Henry Moore OM CH, “Two Piece Sculpture No. 7 Pipe”, 1966, Casting Date Unknown, Bronze, 432 x 839 x315 cm., Tate Museum, London

“The Two Piece Sculpture no. 7 Pipe” is one of a series of two-piece sculptures made during the 1960s that relate to Moore’s interest in bone forms. The projecting beam that bridges the two parts has been interpreted by critics as a phallic appendage, which has led the sculpture to be seen as a highly abstract representation of sexual coupling.

This sculpture was developed from a small maquette made in plaster in 1966. By this time Moore had established a practice of testing out his designs for sculptures by making small three-dimensional models as opposed to drawing his ideas on a page. It is probable that Moore made the small model for this sculpture in his maquette studio in the grounds of his home, Hoglands, at Perry Green in Hertfordshire. This studio housed his ever growing collection of found objects, the shapes of which often served as starting points for Moore’s formal experiments in three dimensions.

In “Two Piece Sculpture No. 7 Pipe”, Moore combined his interest in the human figure with his concurrent explorations of interlocking forms. After separated the body into two distinct parts in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Moore then began thinking about ways in which separate sculptural parts could intersect or interlock to create a single unit while maintaining their individuality. These ideas came to fruition in works such as “Locking Piece”, 1963-64, in which two differently shaped elements intersect. According to Bowness, it was the relationship between the two parts of “Two Piece Sculpture No. 7 Pipe” that was of interest to Moore, and the subsequent omission of the often-used term ‘Reclining Figure’ from its title reflected these concerns.

Japanese Tsuba

Japanese Tsuba, Edo Period

The Tsuba is usually a round, or occasionally squarei, guard at the end of the grip of bladed Japanese weapons, like the katana and its various variations, the tachi, wakizachi, tanto, and others. They contribute to the balance of the weapon and to the protection of the hand. The tsuba was mostly meant to be used to prevent the hand from sliding onto the blade during thrusts as opposed to protecting from an opponent’s blade.

During the Muromachi period, 1333-1573, and the Momoyama period, 1573-1603, the tsuba were more for functionality than for decoration, being made of stronger metals and designs. With the peace in Japan during the Edo period, 1603- 1868, the tsuba became more ornamental and made of less practical metals.

Tsuba are usually finely decorated. Whole dynasties of craftsmen arose whose only craft was making the tsuba. These decorated fittings were often used as heirlooms, passed from one generation to another. Many Japanese families with samurai roots would have their family crests crafted onto a tsuba.

Jacob Halder

Jacob Halder (Royal Workshops of Greenwich, England), Portions of a Field Armor, 1588-1590, Steel, Brass, Gilding, Leather and Silk Velvet Textile, Art Institute of Chicago

Decorated with etched and gilt ornamental bands of zigzag and scroll designs set against a blackened ground, this armor resembles 16th century garments embellished with embroidered bands and edged with lace. The cuirass (breastplate and backplate) is of peascod form, featuring a high, narrow waist extending to a point below the waistline, with a scalloped border, as seen in clothing of the period. A knight could have dressed for crusade or a sporting event by wearing different parts of this full armor.

Worn by an English courtier, this elaborately decorated armor was produced in the royal armory workshops in Greenwich, England. Founded by Henry VIII before 1515, the Greenwich Armory turned out distinctive ware throughout the Tudor and Elizabethan periods and during the early years of the English Civil War which occurred between 1642 to 1651.

This field armor is the work of Jacob Halder, a Master Armorer at the Armory. He was born and trained in Landshut, Bavaria, and brought a strong German influence to the decoration of armors. He succeeded John Kelte as Master Workman in 1576 and worked at the Armory until his death in 1608. He was responsible for two armors in the Royal Collection Trust: those made for Sir Christopher Hatton and for Henry, Prince of Wales, the elder son of James Vi.


Bronze Pole Top of Gilgamesh with Two Animals, 800-600 BCE, Iranian in Origin, Dallas Museum of Art

This bronze figurine, usually described as a standard finial, consists of a composite human figure and animals. The upper part of the figure holds two mythological animals of lion-monster form in the “master of animals” position. The lower half of the figure includes a repeated human head flanked by the heads of cocks, which form the tails of the upper animals. The entire image is supported by a form resembling animal legs, which in turn rests upon a tripod-like structure with lugs. The work is solid cast in one piece.

Reblogged with thanks to http://llcnsnnts.tumblr.com

Maneki Neko

Maneki Neko, Edo Period, Japan, 8.3 Inches High x 6.3  Wide x 4.3

Maneki Neko beckoned guests and customers into inns and shops. Most were humble creatures and very few early examples exist. Instead of raising a paw to call money like his brethren, this cat tips a right ear, curling it forward in welcome.

This okimono is in the form of a cat with its paw resting on a Shinto shrine bell, the bell articulated to open sideways revealing a compass. The cat is made of cast, cold-chiseled and gilt bronze with inlaid glass eyes; the compass is made of cast, cold-chiseled and gilt bronze with a glass cover. The reverse has holes for pin attachments for a now missing base. This was crafted in the Edo period, 1700 to 1830.

It may be that this feline sculpture beckoned for a dealer in scientific instruments, compasses, telescopes and microscopes. If so, only the metropolis of Edo (now modern Tokyo) would have supported such a specialist shop. Such a merchant would travel to visit feudal daimyo clients, almost the only people with the means to purchase his wares and afford the medium of gilt bronze. They loved surprises and fashionable karakuri or mechanical toys.

Bronze Rabbit Okimono

Artist Unknown, Bronze Rabbit Okimono

Okimono in the form of an alarmed plump rabbit, made of cast and cold chiseled bronze with touches of gilt. This okimono is unsigned. It was probably cast in the late Edo period of Japan (early 19th century).

The bronze and gilding have taken on a warm softness with age. The rabbit is five inches high by four and a half inches long and three inches wide.

Cal Lane

Steel Lace by Cal Lane

New York-based artist Cal Lane turns highly industrial materials like shovels, car parts and oil tanks into delicate lace-patterned works of art. Using a blowtorch, Lane adds a touch of beautiful filigree to the steel objects, producing works that simultaneously hide and expose the gritty material she chooses to work with.

“I like to work as a visual devil’s advocate, using contradiction as a vehicle for finding my way to an empathetic image, an image of opposition that creates a balance – as well as a clash – by comparing and contrasting ideas and materials” , says Lane, who is originally from Victoria, British Columbia.

The Nebra Sky Disc

The Nebra Sky Disc

The Nebra Sky Disc is a bronze disk of around 30 centimetres (12 in) diameter and a weight of 2.2 kilograms (4.9 lb), with a blue-green patina and inlaid with gold symbols. These are interpreted generally as a sun or full moon, a lunar crescent, and stars (including a cluster interpreted as the Pleiades. Two golden arcs along the sides, marking the angle between the solstices, were added later. A final addition was another arc at the bottom surrounded with multiple strokes (of uncertain meaning, variously interpreted as a Solar Barge with numerous oars, as the Milky Way, or as a rainbow).

The disk is attributed to a site near Nebra, Saxony-Anhalt, in Germany, and associatively dated to about 1600 BC. It has been associated with the Bronze Age Unetice culture.

The Nebra sky disk features the oldest concrete depiction of the cosmos worldwide. In June 2013 it was included in the UNESCO Memory of the World Registry and termed “one of the most important archaeological finds of the twentieth century.”

Reblogged with thanks to http://museum-of-artifacts.blogspot.com

Wakizashi, Nobukuni School

Wakizashi, Unsigned, Mumei (Nobukuni School), End of Namboku Period, 1380 AD, Second Generation of the Nobukuni School in Kyoto

Nobukuni was likely a son or grandson of Ryokai Hisanobu of the Rai school based in Kyoto. He later studied under Sadamune of Kamakura in Soshu province (present-day Sagami, Kanagawa prefecture).

This is a remarkable sword that was made over 600 years ago in Kyoto by the revered Nobukuni school of Yamashiro province (present-day southern Kyoto prefecture). The name originally inscribed on this sword disappeared in the process of shortening what was once a wider and longer naginata. The sword is in near pristine condition despite being centuries old.

The Sanskrit character engravings on both sides of this sword are simply magnificent. One one side of the sword it reads “Fudomyoo” (The Fire God worshiped by the Samurai) who changed himself into a sword. The symbolic engraving features a dragon trying to swallow the sword. The other side features the bonji character and (blood) grooves that served to lighten the sword and provide decoration. This bonji character was used by Buddhist monks as offerings to the gods.

Many scholars agree that Nobukuni produced some of the finest engravings the Japanese Samurai sword world has ever seen. One very important detail to note is that this sword was tested by Yamano Kaemon who was the leader in his Yamano school – a school that was responsible for testing of swords for sharpness and smooth cutting ability. To test this sword, he cleanly cut through one arm and through the torso of a dead human being (near the waistline).

Gold letters on the tang of this sword acknowledge that a highly respected person inspected and certified this sword. The test would have occurred in the Edo period (1700s-1800s). There were 3 main schools for testing in Edo Period at the time, namely Nakagawa, Yamano, and Yamada.

This sword is a shortened naginata. A remarkably similar looking Nobukuni Wakizashi sword from the same era (likely the same swordsmith) can be found in the Kyoto National Museum.