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Ancient Romans painted their outdoor sculptures!


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A History of Sculpture.

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Sculpture, like other arts, is a record of human experience. From earliest times to our own day, sculpture records experiences that range from wars and worship to the simplest joys of seeing and touching suspended shapes designed to move in the wind.

In sculpture there is everything from the marble gods of Phidias to the mobiles by Alexander Calder. People everywhere have found the need for sculpture, whether it be in work, in play, or in prayer. Sculpture also records the desire to commemorate the deeds of nations and of individuals.

Sculpture Among Early Peoples 
The earliest club wielded by the caveman was no great work of art, but it was sculpture of a kind. The gods that early peoples created out of their fear required a form as tangible as the club, though more complex. The earliest worshipers could not cope with abstract ideas of their gods. They had to see, touch, sacrifice to, and sometimes punish them. 

In Polynesia and Peru, in southern France, New Zealand, Africa, and Mexico we find evidence that sculpture entered into every aspect of primitive life. Many of these early objects--whether intended for use or decoration--are fascinating in their strangeness and beautiful in their design. Modern artists, seeking new and vital forms of expression, have found a rich fountain of inspiration in these crude but serious efforts of early humans. 

In the Americas sculpture thrived long before the arrival of Columbus. The Tarascans and Aztecs of ancient Mexico and the highly gifted Mayas of Central America rank high in pre-Columbian sculpture. 

Among the most interesting finds in pre-Columbian sculpture are the archaeological remains near the town of Tula, Mexico--the ancient capital of the Toltecs. Among the structures were a palace complex, temple pyramids, a civic center, and a platform altar. Distinctively carved columns supported part of the main temple. Typical of these are the two sculptures pictured: warriors 15 feet tall and decorated with what may be ceremonial ornaments and dress of their time. 

The Art of Egypt
As far back as 5,000 years ago Egypt had introduced a style that, with surprisingly little change, continued for almost 3,000 years. Rules for the making of statues were rigidly prescribed, as were social and religious customs. Religion was the dominant force in life on Earth and it required certain preparations for the life beyond. Sculpture was entirely associated with the needs of religion and the gods or with the earthly rulers who were regarded as their representatives (see Egypt, Ancient). 
To symbolize the godlike role of the kings, they were represented as half human, half animal. The great Sphinx at Gizeh is the best-known example. To express their power and eternal life they were carved in the hardest stone and in colossal proportions. The statues of Rameses II at Abu Simbel are examples. 

Mesopotamia and Its Art 
More than 4,000 years ago the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers began to teem with life--first the Sumerian, then the Babylonian, Assyrian, Chaldean, and Persian empires. Here too excavations have unearthed evidence of great skill and artistry. From Sumeria have come examples of fine works in marble, diorite, hammered gold, and lapis lazuli. Of the many portraits produced in this area, some of the best are those of Gudea, ruler of Lagash. 

Babylonian and Assyrian sculpture is impressive in its vitality, massiveness, and rich imagination. Huge fanciful lions or winged bulls with human heads stood guard at palace entrances. Inside, the walls were carved with scenes of royal hunting parties, battles, and festivities. In Persia too, especially at Persepolis, fine sculpture was produced. 

The Glorious Sculpture of Greece 
The glory of Greece was its sculpture. The roots of Greek sculpture reach into the earlier cultures of Crete, Mycenae, and even Egypt. The figures of the 7th and 6th centuries BC lack life and movement; their faces wear the frozen smile peculiar to archaic sculpture. Even so, these early craftsmen, whose names are lost with the temples they decorated, show sensitivity to the qualities of marble and a superb sense of design. As if to make up for the lack of life in their statues, archaic sculptors sought naturalism by painting them. 
Greek sculpture rose to its highest achievement in the 5th century BC, when the spirit of Greece itself was at its height. ( see Greek art for examples ) 

From the Romans to the Renaissance 
The Romans lacked the intellectual and aesthetic sensibilities of the Greeks. Their strength lay in military prowess, engineering, road building, and lawmaking. Their emperors required realistic portraits and triumphal arches to impress their own people and the subjugated nations of their far-flung empire. 
The triumphal arches of the Emperors Titus and Constantine, adorned with scenes of victory and battle, have inspired similar efforts in Europe and America, from the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris, to the Memorial Arch of Valley Forge. 

By the 2nd century AD, however, Rome and sculpture both had lost their vigor. As collectors, copyists, and imitators of Greek sculpture, however, the Romans handed on to later generations the partial fruits of Greek labor. ( see Roman art for examples ) 

Christianity and a New Art
In the 4th century the Roman Empire accepted Christianity as its religion. This meant a new kind of art. Sculpture, like painting, music, and philosophy, turned for inspiration to the church, and the church, faced with the need of interpreting the new religion for great masses of people, used the arts to good advantage. The vast majority of people could not read, and sculpture and painting became their books--as stained glass windows would a few centuries later. 

Art was austere, symbolic, and otherworldly from about the 8th to the 1 2th century, the middle period of the Middle Ages. It was decidedly abstract, not realistic. Religious in subject matter, sculpture was closely related to church architecture. 

The Renaissance in Italy
The term Renaissance, meaning "rebirth," is used to describe the vigorous cultural activity of 14th- and 15th-century Italy and the revival of classical learning. Following Italy's lead, France and northern Europe also turned their interests from the rewards of heaven to the opportunities of their own world. In doing so they found themselves akin in spirit to the Romans and Greeks before them. In their new love of life and search for knowledge they reached back a thousand years for every shred of instruction and inspiration. The Italians needed only to dig into the ground beneath them to find examples of the splendid sculpture of Rome. 

The Baroque in Sculpture
Michelangelo had shown the way to express robust power with technical excellence. In his day these attributes of art were urgently desired by both church and state--the church to bolster its prestige in the face of Protestant successes, and the state to glorify its rising power. This trend carried over into the 17th century, when the zeal that built St. Peter's in Rome expressed itself in a renewed vigor wherever Roman Catholicism prevailed. 

The leader of the baroque movement was Giovanni Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680), architect as well as sculptor. The series of 162 figures that surmounts his imposing colonnade in front of St. Peter's in Rome is only a part of the tremendous amount of work he did for the church. His fountains of Rome, including the 'Fountain of the Four Rivers', gave the Eternal City a new and lasting splendor. Typical of Bernini's style is his 'St. Teresa', where the overactive drapery and theatrical setting are designed to show off skill rather than to convey meaning. 

Sculpture in France 
The Renaissance in France began about the time of Francis I (1494-1547). To his court were invited many Italian artists and architects, among them Benvenuto Cellini and Leonardo da Vinci. A little later, as the power of Italy waned and that of France rose, the ideas transplanted to the new country took deep root and blossomed into new life. 

Neoclassicism in Sculpture 
For all the interest in classical antiquity during and after the Renaissance there had been no systematic study of classical remains until the brilliant and inspired work of the German archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717-68). His published writings on Herculaneum and Pompeii led to a new, impassioned interest in the ancient art of Greece and Rome. Artists now resolved to revive classical purity by adhering strictly to the style of original examples. 

This movement, known as neoclassicism, began in the latter half of the 18th century and continued into the early 19th, when it gained political support through Napoleon's interest in Greek ideology. The leading exponent of this style in Italy was Antonio Canova (1757-1822). However correct in principle, his work remains cold in feeling, just as were the works of his followers in England, Germany, and Denmark. 

The 19th Century
The formality and coldness of neoclassicism came as a reaction against the theatrical baroque and against the florid rococo, which flourished in 18th-century France. Moreover, the political atmosphere in which the new art operated was sympathetic to the reverence for the ancients. Napoleon saw himself as another Caesar. His minister of art, Jacques-Louis David, caused even furniture and dress to be designed in classical lines. Gradually, however, artists returned to the life about them. François Rude (1784-1855) broke through classical restraint to create one of the world's most stirring relief compositions--the 'Marseillaise' on the Arc de Triomphe, in Paris. Rude's pupil Jean Baptiste Carpeaux (1827-75) carried on the active, emotional themes. 

Sculpture in the United States
The first American sculptor of significance was the Philadelphian William Rush (1756-1833), who worked in wood. He left a fine full-size carving of George Washington as well as a vigorous self-portrait. His younger contemporaries, however, were studiously copying European examples of the neoclassical school in Italy. Horatio Greenough (1805-52) made an imposing figure of Washington in which he looks more like a half-dressed Roman emperor than the father of his country. Thomas Crawford (1814-57) decorated the Capitol in Washington, D.C. The statue of 'Armed Liberty' surmounting the dome and the bronze doors are among his best works. 

Other noteworthy American sculptors;
Henry Kirke Brown (1814-86), John Quincy Adams Ward (1830-1910), Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), Frederick MacMonnies (1863-1937), George Grey Barnard (1863-1938), Paul Wayland Bartlett (1865-1925), Frederic Remington (1861-1909), Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941). 

Asian Sculpture 
Reports of the splendor of Asian art were brought to Europe by Marco Polo. By the 18th century Europeans not only possessed original ceramics, enamels, and furniture from the East but were adapting Asian designs and skills in their own products. Chinese Chippendale furniture and chinaware are examples. The art of Japan was brought into prominence in the mid-19th century in Paris by the Goncourt brothers, and it was Auguste Rodin who first gave public recognition to the sculpture of India. In the latter part of the 19th century, when artists were seeking inspiration for a newer, fresher art, these sources, together with those of Africa and Muslim countries, provided them with rich material. 

Sculpture in India was centered on the worship of Buddha and the three gods who form the trinity of Hinduism--Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Although Siddhartha Gotama, the Buddha, lived in the 6th century BC, it was not until the 1st century AD that the familiar statues of him appeared. The Gupta period, lasting from the 4th to the 6th century AD, produced some of the finest examples of Buddhist sculpture. For the first 700 years of the Christian Era, the Gandhara region, now in modern Pakistan and Afghanistan, produced many examples of Greco-Buddhist sculpture. The Hellenistic influence was introduced following the conquest of north India by Alexander the Great. To Shiva are dedicated the monumental rock-hewn temples of the period from the 5th to the 8th century. The equally majestic sun temples to Vishnu date from the 11th to the 13th century. 

The Chinese were master craftsmen and produced fine sculpture, especially in bronze. Although bronze casting existed a thousand years earlier, it was in the Chou period (1122-221 BC) that China developed the art to its peak.


Tradition in Sculpture 
Each period in art is a link in the golden chain of creative a achievement. If sculptors use historical examples and techniques to sharpen their vision, to deepen their insight, and to solve their problems, they use tradition creatively. 

Lighting and Point of View 
While working on a statue, the sculptor relies on proper light to study the planes by which masses turn from the light into the shade, creating the sense of solidity and third dimension. Only by light properly cast can he study shape, texture, and character. 

The sculptor strives to show his finished work in the same light by which he worked originally. A light cast too weakly or too strongly from a source too high or too low can undo the effort of the sculptor and destroy the effectiveness of his creation. 

Materials and Processes 
To fashion sculpture man had to learn to use certain materials and to develop appropriate tools and processes. Carving is the process of reducing substances such as stone, wood, or ivory to a desired shape by cutting or chipping away unnecessary parts. The earliest carvings were probably nothing more than figures scratched into the flat surface of a rock. As time went on primitive sculptors discovered that by cutting away the background surrounding the figure, the animal or other figure appeared more real. This was the beginning of relief sculpture. Sculpture in which the figures extend from the background less than half of their natural volume is called low relief. That which extends beyond this point is called high relief, and sculpture that stands completely away from its background is said to be in full round. 

Types of Casting 
Casting is the process by which a piece of sculpture is reproduced through the use of a mold. A plaster mold consisting of two or more tightly fitting parts is made over or around the original clay model. When it is hard, the mold is removed, cleaned, oiled on the inside, and reassembled. Through an opening left for the purpose a creamy mixture of plaster and water is poured into the mold, and the mold is gently rolled so that the plaster is distributed evenly over the inner surface. The excess is poured out and the process is repeated until the desired thickness is achieved. When it is dry, this newly formed plaster shell is freed by chipping away the outer mold. The result is a perfect replica of the original model. Because the original clay model and the mold are both destroyed in the process, this is known as a waste mold. 

The plaster cast can now be given a desired surface quality by paint or shellac or can be used as a model for further casting in more durable materials such as bronze and other metals, terra cotta, and cement. More complex molds, which permit more than one replica to be produced, must be used for this purpose. Thus it differs from the waste mold. 

The casting of metals requires special skill and great care. Bronze has proved to be the most versatile metal for casting. The two principal methods are the sand mold process and the lost-wax (cire-perdue in French) process. The first uses a specially prepared sand mold, the second a silica mold. 

Each mold has an inside core, built so as to leave a thin space between itself and the outer mold. The outer contour of this space bears the exact contour of the original cast from which the mold was made. When hot liquid bronze is poured into this space it takes the shape of the original plaster, thus resulting in a perfect reproduction. The space in the silica mold is filled with wax until it is melted out by the hot bronze, hence the name lost-wax process. This is the process made famous by Benvenuto Cellini and so skillfully practiced by many ancient peoples, especially the Chinese. 

Patina is the term used for the surface color and quality of bronze and other materials. Without waiting for time, use, and atmospheric conditions to give a lovely surface to sculpture, artists use acids, heat, and other devices to achieve immediate effects of mellowness, age, and subtle color. 

From an article by Jack Bookbinder, former Director of Art Education, Philadelphia Public Schools and by Christopher Lyon, Editor, Department of Public Information, The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Modern Art

Kouros, 1944-45 Isamu Noguchi
(American, 1904-1988)
Marble; H. 117 in. (297.2 cm) Base: D. 34-1/8, W. 42 in. (86.7 x 106.7 cm)
Reproduced with the permission of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation, Inc.

Born in America in 1904 to a Japanese father and an American mother, Isamu Noguchi spent the majority of his childhood in Japan (1906-18) before going to the United States to continue his schooling (1918-24). Between 1927 and 1937, his frequent and extended travels to Europe, China, Japan, and Mexico, where he saw modern painting and sculpture being made, studied calligraphy, and painted a mural, provided him with an eclectic range of artistic experiences upon which to draw. Noguchi's sculptures and drawings from the mid-1940s are occupied with figurative and biomorphic imagery. "Kouros" illustrates the biomorphic vocabulary that Noguchi devised in order to abstract the human figure into fragmented, bonelike elements and may be compared to the biomorphic abstractions produced by such Surrealist artists as Jean Arp, Matta, Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso, and Yves Tanguy. Noguchi always contended that the organic quality of his work came not from Surrealist examples, however, but from his familiarity with traditional Japanese arts and crafts - bells, samurai swords, and floral arrangements. Although Surrealism no doubt played a part in Noguchi's use of biomorphic abstraction in the 1940s, he was already predisposed to it by an earlier and more memorable experience - that of working with the sculptor Constantin Brancusi in Paris while traveling on a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship. As Brancusi's part-time studio assistant for about five months in 1927, the twenty-two-year-old Noguchi learned how simple organic shapes could evoke figurative associations. He also acquired the techniques needed to carve in stone, which he first used for his own sculpture in the 1930s and which continued to dominate his aesthetic for more than fifty years. This dedication to traditional techniques and materials was in direct opposition to the more industrial welded-metal construction that was popularized in the 1940s and 1950s by such sculptors as Herbert Ferber, Theodore Roszak, and David Smith. In all, Noguchi completed about fifteen interlocking sculptures between 1945 and 1948, including the Metropolitan Museum's famous pink marble sculpture "Kouros," which is more than nine feet high. These sculptures were assembled from individual pieces of carved stone, without benefit of adhesives or pinions, by notching and slotting the pieces together. As Noguchi explained: "You have to consider the weight of the material, the forces that conspire to hold up the figure - engineering problems, essentially. Everything I do has an element of engineering in it - particularly since I dislike gluing parts together or taking advantage of something that is not inherent in the material . . . there are no adhesives of any kind - only the stones holding themselves together." The fragmented figures that were created, both in drawings and sculpture, reflect Noguchi's feelings about the precarious state of the world after World War II, which he characterized as "the encroaching void." Such feelings were echoed in the statements made by some of the Abstract Expressionists at the time and in the primordial and mythic imagery they chose to depict. For Noguchi, as for many Abstract Expressionists, abstraction was a way to convey the intimate relationship between contemporary man and these ancient, universal sources.

Antigraceful, 1913, cast 1950-51 Umberto Boccioni 
(Italian, 1882-1916)
Bronze; H. 23, W. 20-1/2, D. 20 in. (58.4 x 52.1 x 50.8 cm)

One of Umberto Boccioni's favored subjects was his mother, Cecilia Forlani Boccioni. From photographs and from Boccioni's own renderings of 1906 to 1915, she appears to have been a large matronly woman with a broad round face, thick knobby fingers, and elegantly upswept gray hair. Boccioni featured her in at least forty-five paintings, drawings, etchings, and sculptures, often producing a series of studies based on a single pose. The title of his sculpture, "Antigraceful," refers to Boccioni's rejection of traditional artistic values. As he wrote in his book "Pittura, scultura futuriste" (1914): "We must smash, demolish, and destroy our traditional harmony, which makes us fall into a gracefulness created by timid and sentimental cubs. We disown the past because we want to forget, and in art to forget means to be renewed." Using Cubist distortions and fragmentation, Boccioni attempted to undermine the accepted concepts of proportion, harmony, and beauty. He also attached elements from the surrounding environment to this portrait (such as the building rising from the mother's head) in a Futurist union of figure and space. Boccioni began working in three dimensions in Paris about March 1912, when he wrote to a friend: "These days I am obsessed by sculpture! I believe I have glimpsed a complete renovation of that mummified art." A month later, in Milan, he published the "Technical Manifesto of Sculpture," and by June 1913 he had produced a significant body of eleven plaster sculptures that were exhibited at Galerie La Boëtie in Paris. Included in that exhibition was "Antigraceful," which may have been influenced by Pablo Picasso's bronze "Head of a Woman" of 1909. Guillaume Apollinaire, an admirer of Boccioni's sculpture, admonished him to have his plasters cast in bronze.

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Ritual object,
Neolithic period

Liangzhu culture, ca. 2700-2200 B.C.Jiangsu or Zhejiang province, China Nephrite; Diam. 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm). The austere shape, imposing mass, and monumental proportions identify this perforated disk (bi) as an important ceremonial object of China's Neolithic culture. Worked from a mottled green stone identified as nephrite (a form of jade), it bears traces of saw and drill marks on its otherwise smooth surface. The function and meaning of these disks are unknown. As late as the Han dynasty (206 B.C.-A.D. 220), jade disks performed a ritual function in aristocratic burials, where they were placed above the head, below the feet, and on the chest of the deceased.
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Bust of warrior,
Kofun period

(3rd-7th century), 5th-6th century Kanto region, Japan Earthenware with painted, incised, and applied decoration; H. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm), W. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm). This "haniwa" (circle of clay) bust of a warrior is boldly potted from fragile earthenware. The traces of red paint found on this figure indicate that it was made in the Kanto region (around Tokyo). Haniwa were placed at the top of the burial mound, in the center, along the edges, and at the entrance of the burial chamber of enormous tombs that were constructed for the ruling elite during the 3rd-7th century period. These tombs were generally covered with large mounds of earth and were often shaped like keyholes and surrounded by moats.
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Adam, 15th century (ca. 1490-95) By Tullio Lombardo (ca. 1455-1532)
Italian (Venice) Marble; H. 6 ft. 3 1/2 in. (191.8 cm)
Tullio Lombardo came from a prestigious family of sculptors and architects in Venice. His tomb for the doge Andrea Vendramin (d. 1478) now in the church of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, originally contained this lifesize figure of Adam, signed on the base by the sculptor. Adam is based on a combination of antique figures of Antinous and Bacchus. Further refinements are his meaningful glance and eloquent hands (one holding the Apple of Temptation) and the tree trunk adorned with a serpent and a grapevine, allusions to the Fall and Redemption of Man. Remarkable for the purity of its marble and the smoothness of its carving, Adam was the first monumental classical nude carved following antiquity.
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Madonna and Child with Angels, RELIEF, 15th century By Antonio Rossellino (1427-1479)
Italian (Florence); Made in Florence, Italy. Antonio Rossellino was among the most gifted sculptors of his generation. This example, carved from mottled brown marble about 1455-60, is particularly successful. The protective, caressing gesture of the Virgin's left hand is especially poignant. The surface is richly contoured and decorated, and the concern for finish extends to the background, which is enlivened by the heads and feathery wings of seraphim. Typical of painters of the period is the sculptor's attention to ornamental detail: the fringe of the Virgin's mantle, the haloes, and the strands of hair of both Virgin and Child are delicately highlighted with touches of gilding.
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Nymph and Satyr Carousing, 18th century (ca. 1780-90)
Clodion (Claude Michel) (1738-1814), Sculptor
French (Paris)

Made in Paris, France. Terracotta; H. 23 1/4 in. (59.1 cm) Clodion, whose career spanned the last decades of the French Revolution and Napoleon's reign, embraced his era's taste for antiquity. While often Neoclassical, his manner at times remained quite Rococo, as in the present example. His fame and popularity rested on his skill at modeling small-scale terracotta groups for private collectors. The seeming spontaneity of this composition, a rapturous embrace, in which it appears that the senses are totally abandoned, was achieved only after much meditation. The sculpture shows deliberate adjustments of angles, openings, and masses, all checked and balanced.
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Torso of a standing bodhisattva, Kushan period
ca. late 1st-2nd century ancient region of Gandhara, Pakistan H. 64 1/2 in. (163.8 cm). Strategically located along the crossroads from the Mediterranean, Gandhara was of tremendous military and commercial significance. Throughout its early history it attracted many different figures and peoples -among them, Alexander the Great -all of whom in varying degrees left their cultural imprint on the region. The area's artistic style, reflects the classical legacy of Alexander the Great's cultural heirs and is markedly dependent upon Hellenistic and Roman prototypes. The most popular Gandharan image, after those representing the Buddha, was that of the bodhisattva, a being who attains enlightenment and escapes the cycle of death and rebirth but chooses to remain on earth to help others achieve salvation.
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Seated Couple, 16th-19th century;
Dogon peoples; Mali

Wood, metal; H. 28 3/4 in. (73 cm). This idealized couple exemplifies some of the basic roles of men and women in Dogon society. On the male figure's back is a hunter's or warrior's quiver, while the female carries an infant on her back. The man's gestures emphasize both his role as progenitor and the woman's as nurturer. The complementarity and interdependence of their roles is suggested formally by the identical columnar forms that define the two figures and by the horizontal elements that connect them. Although their facial features and ornaments are symmetrical, the artist has infused these figures with individuality by subtly varying the direction of their gaze.
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Reliquary Head (Nlo Bieri), 19th-20th century; Fang peoples; Gabon, Africa
Wood, metal, oil; H. 18 5/16 in. (46.5 cm). In Fang society, figurative sculptures produced for the ancestor cult, or "bieri," were designed to complement reliquary containers. Such works were memorialized and addressed in times of need through relics preserved in the attached container. Fang reliquary sculpture powerfully influenced Modernist artists who began collecting non-Western art during the early twentieth century.
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Statuette of a Hippopotamus, ca. 1991-1783 B.C.E.; Dynasty 12; Middle Kingdom Faience
Ceramic; H. 4 3/8 in. (11.2 cm), L. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm). This well-formed statuette of a hippopotamus demonstrates the Egyptian artist's appreciation for the natural world. It was molded in faience, a ceramic material made of ground quartz. Beneath the blue-green glaze, the body was painted with the outlines of river plants, symbolizing the marshes in which the animal lived. To the ancient Egyptians, the hippopotamus was one of the most dangerous animals in their world. The huge creatures were a hazard for small fishing boats and other rivercraft. The beast might also be encountered on the waterways in the journey to the afterlife. As such, the hippopotamus was a force of nature that needed to be propitiated and controlled, both in this life and the next.
Featured Artist

Standing Woman (Elevation), 1927
Gaston Lachaise (American, born France, 1882-1935)

Bronze; H. 73-7/8, W. 32, D. 17-3/4 in. (185.1 x 81.3 x 45.1 cm). Lachaise began the monumental "Standing Woman," his first full-size figure, upon arriving in New York in 1912. Over the next several years he made numerous revisions before exhibiting it publicly, as a painted plaster, at Stephan Bourgeois Gallery, New York, in February 1918. The piece was not cast in bronze until 1927, in anticipation of his forthcoming exhibition at Brummer Gallery, New York, in February-March 1928. Several castings, some executed posthumously, exist of this sculpture. Although inspired by Lachaise's beloved, the figure in "Standing Woman" goes beyond the particulars of any single individual to suggest the more archetypal image of the ideal woman.
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Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century
Edo, court of Benin; Nigeria

Ivory, iron, copper; H. 9 3/8 in. (23.8 cm). This ivory pendant mask is one of a pair of nearly identical works; its counterpart is in the British Museum in London. The pendant mask is believed to have been produced in the early sixteenth century for the Oba Esigie, the king of Benin, to honor his mother, Idia. The Oba may have worn it at rites commemorating his mother, although today such pendants are worn at annual ceremonies of spiritual renewal and purification. In Benin, ivory is related to the color white, a symbol of ritual purity that is associated with Olokun, god of the sea. As the source of extraordinary wealth and fertility, Olokun is the spiritual counterpart of the Oba. Ivory is central to the constellation of symbols surrounding Olokun and the Oba. Not only is it white, but it is itself Benin's principle commercial commodity and it helped attract the Portuguese traders who also brought wealth to Benin.
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Eyes, 1982 Louise Bourgeois (American, born France, 1911)
Marble; H. 74-3/4, W. 54, D. 45-3/4 in. (189.9 x 137.2 x 116.2 cm) r l Louise Bourgeois began her career as a painter and engraver, turning to sculpture in the late 1940s. Her sculptures of the 1940s were composed groupings of elongated, carved wood totems, abstract in shape and painted in a uniform color. In the 1960s her work, which retained its Surrealist undertones, expanded in size and was executed in bronze, carved stone, and rubber latex. Bourgeois's highly idiosyncratic style relies on an intensely personal vocabulary of anthropomorphic forms charged with sexual allusions. "Eyes" is a large marble sculpture that shows the persistence of Surrealist iconography in her late work. The eye, a recurring motif in Surrealism, served as both a symbol for the act of perception and as an allusion to female sexual anatomy. Perched on top of a massive marble block chiseled in various places to resemble a house (a recurring theme in her work) are two highly polished round balls with a carved circular opening at each center. As a unit they suggest a bold abstract head, a female torso, or the symbolic marriage of woman to home and family.


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All rights reserved. Revised: July 01, 2007 .