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« Lesy on Rich Kids, Publishing | Main | Evo-Bio of Music »

September 18, 2003

Sculpture and the Inner Child


My feelings about sculpture seem tied up with my inner child. The other day a little boy came over to our house with a pair of Hulk fists. (I don’t know what the official brand name is.) They are enormous foam-rubber fists, which are hollowed out inside so you can reach in and grab onto a handle embedded in the rubber. They also have a noise-making module in there, so you can slam the fists against things and get a “Hulk smash!” sound effect and a Hulk-like roar. The roar and the smashing noise were pretty entertaining, but I immediately fell in love with the fists as sculptures.

I was just tickled by the way the Hulk fists show how a clenched hand turns from a sort of irregular two-dimensional shape into a series of semi-abstract masses defined by squared off planes.

The Hulk fists also instantly reminded me of Michelangelo. Not that any of Old Mike’s sculpted figures have clenched fists (that I remember), but somehow the designer of the Hulk fists, by working on over-life-size scale, by giving the suggestion of great muscular power and by exaggerating the shapes into slightly abstracted masses has managed to work the same vein of ore as did the Tuscan Titan.

I also think the exaggerated qualities of the Hulk fists and of Michelangelo's sculptures send my brain into a state of heightened perception that reminds me of early childhood; just being around Michelangelo's scuptures usually puts me into a kind of dreamstate.

Michelangelo, Moses, 1515

If memory serves, you once compared the experience of looking at Michelangelo sculpture to being a small child looking (with awe) at the size and muscularity of adults. That line pretty well sums up the experience, for me at least, of playing with the Hulk fists. It also seems integral to the experience of looking at most sculpture I really love. Go figure.



posted by Friedrich at September 18, 2003


And to think that what sends me into dream states these days is Hindu art featuring women ...

Are you one of those weird art students who really loves working on hands? I'm like everyone else in my advanced-beginner class, dreading attending to the hands and feet. I keep hoping that there's a secret recipe book out there somewhere that'll pass along all the cliche'd basics of how to draw 'em. Maybe I should look in "How to Draw Comic Book" books instead of high-art things...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on September 18, 2003 2:27 PM

Actually, that's exactly where you should look. Pay close attention to the planes and where they break (i.e., at the knuckles and the wrist.) Also, ahem, practice a lot. That's not hard to do, as you always have a "model" hand with you everywhere you go. Drawing hands is a great way to pass time on the phone.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on September 18, 2003 4:28 PM

re: heightened perception...

Do any of y'all have a weird emotional response to using binocular (stereoscopic) instruments such as ViewMasters (tm) or double-microscopes?

Apparently my eyes are naturally set a bit closer than average, and so the perspective afforded by binoculars gives a bit more view on each side than I usually get. Objects are "rounder" or "deeper" thru the lenses than they are in life, and so -- somehow -- seem more vivid. To which I feel myself responding as if granted a God's-Eye-View into mundane reality.

But is this uniquely weird to me, or do others
get that?

Posted by: Pouncer on September 19, 2003 1:01 PM

I've never gotten much of a kick out of binoculars, but I do like view masters (stereopticons). I've long suspected that I enjoy the latter because they often put their two cameras far further apart that any two human eyes--pictures of the pyramids were taken with the cameras many yards apart, giving far more dimensionality to the image than any person could see with their naked eyes. (I believe the 3-dimensional effect from binocular vision peters out at a distance of around 30 feet.) I've often wanted to experiment with such exaggerated three-D effects--actually with 3-D movies generally, which I never figured out how to do, as a practical matter.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on September 19, 2003 6:09 PM

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