Exercise 4: Statues

Again Covid has really left me with limited options, I googled to see if there was any local statues, but didn’t have much luck. In the end I decided to find some statues from artists I have admired, Sir Alfred Gilbert, Bernini, and Michalengelo, I also found a really nice statue from a church in Stratford. I noticed part 4 centers around the figure and all the statues I picked all portray anatomy in their own unique way. Some intentionally stylized, some incredibly accurate and even one that breaks convention.

Sir Alfred Gilbert was a sculptor I was introduced to by a tutor at college, I was absolutely knocked back by the level of life that these pieces of bronze had, they was all strong dynamic figures, they looked like they had been peeled from a page in a comic book, I would loved to have seen how Alfred Gilbert would have lent his art to a character such as Super-man, or even a Gothic Batman. The statue of Eros, has a tremendous sense of balance, the gesture in the arm looks like seconds before it was hard and taut, we see the statue micro seconds after he has let his arrow fly into his next love struck target. It was these things I wanted to try to capture, you can see I have the horizontal line tracking down from the naval, this would be the center of gravity, this lines up nicely with the foot firmly planted. The right arm of Eros with tension now released, wrist relaxed offset with the tensed bicep of the bow hand.

Perseus slaying medusa is another one of Sir Alfred Gilberts works, this is a favorite of mine as the musculature is very nicely done, a real sense of weight and tension can be seen in the arm of Perseus, no doubt Medusa’s head of snakes, still writhing was a challenge to hold steady and aloft.

Next is a sketch of the sculpure of David by Bernini. I have to say that Bernini really is one of my favourite sculptors, his work is so sensitive, the poses and depiction of mass, soft and hard and all under the influence of physics, such as gravity and force is just on a different level to anything I’ve ever seen. I would love to see these amazing pieces of marble in person. When you compare this baroque piece vs Michelangelo’s Renaissance version of David you really have to marvel the amount of action and life that Bernini portrayed, this is by definition as I understand the main aesthetic difference between the two periods.

The image below is a detailed drawing of Bernini’s approach to soft sinuous tissue in comparison to a softer almost gelatinous mass. The rigid fingers impress into the soft thigh, his embrace, very physical and tensed, muscles engorged, and rounded. I also included a looser gestural drawing of the whole figure, this shows the forces at work.

Below is a statue of St Michael, this is on an exterior wall of a church in Stratford, I really loved the way it had stylized anatomy and a really rough texture, the stance is mostly passive, but St Michael is driving downwards a spear into a dragon, this is not a natural pose like we see with the likes of Bernini but a really interesting one all the same.

Finally we have Night by Michelangelo, I am always fascinated by Michelangelo’s depiction of the female form, there are several theories for this, albeit speculative reasons I needn’t go into here, but he had clearly used male models, the male form is apparent in every instance, even the female breast appears to be an after thought, almost affixed after the fact,to a muscular ches. Obviously this isn’t the case as he sculpted in marble and would be planned meticulously. Whilst his female statues don’t portray the female form as accurately as the likes of Bernini they still are fascinating to see, and offer an insight into the artist, his choices and the mystery of why.

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