Clar 209 Sum 1 : Subtleties in sculptures that reveal their message

“The Holy Kinship” made around 1480-1490 made in South Germany


This sculpture was one of the first to represent the unity of the family to which Christ was born. Though the Virgin Mary was impregnated, it was not out of sin, and the unity of the family despite the circumstances is commendable. Their faith in God was more powerful than society. The golden cape that each individual of the family wears also represents the unity of the family, a color that also signifies royalty. Lastly, I believe this sculpture does not qualify as any relief structure, as it does not stand out from a background or a podium; it is a sculpture in the round. I believe the lack of relief could thus signify that this family did not rise from any medium, but is sufficient to stand on its own, as they have the support of God and each other. 


“The Summit” made by Florian Letti in 1994/1995

                 I was first drawn to this artwork as its message is very unique. Two men are striving to the top of a hill, with a large weight on their shoulders that prevents them from looking forward, beyond their feet. They appear to be traveling at the same right, and the wonder in audiences is what would happen when they reach the summit. The sculpture creates sensory space, where audiences feel the suspense of the moment. I also think it qualifies as a space sculpture, as the space between the men and from the bottom of the hill is emphasized. The full attention of the men is to reach the top of the summit with the weight, yet they fail to see each other. I thus believe that the message of the sculpture is that individuals should not be so focused on one goal that they lose sight of what is around them.

                                                                                                                                                                 “12 Seated Figures” by Magdalena Abakanowicz in 1974


Abakanowicz sculpture is true to its materials, jute, resin, and metal foot. The material is natural and more susceptible to decay, as is evident in this picture. The sculptor’s work caught my attention due to this nature as well as the fact that the body is headless, which serves as a representation that man is losing his individuality in society and becoming more machine-like. The decay of the material could then represent how if this change in mankind continues, our humanity could be lost. The body is also seated on a chair, which also indicates that man is no longer in control; the impression of being seated is that man is letting things happen, and the lack of the body’s arms indicates that man is becoming incapable of making things happen himself.


“The Woman Washing Her Hair” by Jo Jenks in 1954


This sculpture in the round, or a sculpture which does not arise from a background, captured my attention because it reminded by of the “Growth” by Jean Arp that is presented in the textbook. At first glance, the woman and her hair are difficult to decipher in this sculpture. The sculpture depicts the female human body in a different way where it subtly emerges from the black marble medium. However, the surface seems so smooth and tangible. Marble is generally seen as a firm material, but in this sculpture it appears to have more fluidity and less density than the material does in reality. I believe the message of this sculpture is not limit ourselves to certain images of women and to expose ourselves to different possibilities. If material as strong as marble can be shaped into the beautiful figure of a woman, then there are many other ideas that are seen as limitations but might not be in reality.


“The Hunting Centaur” from mid 4th century AD


This low relief sculpture, in which the figures rise subtly from the material (limestone), caught my interest due to its depiction of a centaur, a glorified mythical Greek creature. The centaur, a creature with a human torso joint with the body of a horse, and its prey are depicted in the woods, amongst trees. The form of the centaur has a grace to it; though it is hunting and has captured its prey, the head of the centaur is held high and there is an aura of elegance. The prey, on the other hand, does not maintain the same composure. The sculpture, I believe, thus depicts the successful hunt of the deer, by the centaur, which could be sending a message to audiences that mankind should aspire to be like the figures in Greek mythology.

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