Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Favorite Sculptures from Art Basel

Bus Passengers by George Segal (1997) 
With 500,000 square feet of exhibit space, it should come as no surprise that Art Basel was overflowing with exciting creations. But being on my own meant a lot of missed photo opps. Take, for instance, George Segal's Bus Passengers. My aching feet definitely would have appreciated having the chance to slip into the seat between Segal's own weary passengers.

The now-deceased Segal began creating his unique style of plaster sculpture in the 1960s. Traditional casting involves pouring the material--be it metal, plaster or concrete--into a mold. Segal's process involved wetting plaster bandages and applying them directly to his models. Segal experimented on himself first, with the plaster created from his body becoming Man at a Table, his first of these style works. "For me to decide to make a cast of a human being broke all the rules of fine art," Segal is quoted as having said. To read more about Segal and his work, click here.

By Sarah Lucas
While on the topic of ways to get around, how about these boots by Sarah Lucas?????  (I bet you're singing "these boots are made for walking" right about now.)  Her concrete creations stand about six feet tall. Another pair currently on display at the New Museum rises to 11 feet. This is the art of a woman making a statement.

Lucas' work often involves--and is sometimes made of-- everyday objects. The New Museum's description calls her art "a distinctive and provocative body of work that subverts traditional notions of gender, sexuality and identity." While you might not get that sense from the boots, you definitely would if you took in the exhibit. There's a lot to make a viewer uncomfortable in the show. In fact, the Museum's description of the exhibit contains a disclaimer that "This exhibition contains images of genitalia, which may not be appropriate for all audiences." I've heard of disclaimers/trigger warnings for theater productions, but for an art exhibit?

Lucas is one of the YBAs, or Young British Artists, who were collected by Saatchi in the late 1980s. (Damien Hirst is also a member of this group and has purchased a number of Lucas' works from Saatchi.)  To read more about Lucas and see some of her other work from the New Museum exhibit, click here.

Pomegranate by Aleksandra Domanovic (2018)
Although it didn't strike me that way in the moment,  Aleksandra Domanovic's Pomegranate reminds me of the creepy trees in The Wizard of Oz. Happily, I had the chance to talk with the gallerist about Domanovic's work. What she's created is much more interesting than a talking tree.

Domanovic is known for her votive figures, a sculptural style that dates back to ancient Greece. Like its distant counterparts, Domanovic's sculpture is making an offering to the gods -- in this case, a pomegranate  The fruit was not chosen arbitrarily. Culturally, pomegranates are considered symbols of life and death, fertility and abundance.

But while Domanovic appreciates the past, she's also interested in technology and its impact on our lives. The arms of this sculpture--which are cast from the artist's own appendages--are covered in Kevlar, a distinctly 20th century creation. The hands are a take on the Belgrade Hand, an artificial hand with the capacity to articulate and to feel. It was originally developed following the end of WWII as a prosthetic device for soldiers who had lost their hands during the war. To see more of Domanovic's work, click here.

Female on Bed by Atelier Van Lieshout (2007) with
Body landscape dance I by Daniel Silver (2018) 
The curation of the space exhibiting Atelier van Lieshout's Female on Bed was truly stunning. Seriously, could you find a more perfect piece of art to display beside this sculpture?

According to its website, "Atelier van Lieshout was founded by enfant terrible and sculptor Joep van Lieshout." Like Sarah Lucas' boots, you probably don't see the shock value in this sculpture. Trust me when I say it's even more beautiful in person. But the Atelier does create some art that's pretty out there as its artists work in the "borders between art, design and architecture." Click here to visit the Atelier's website. Note: The website contains images of genitalia.

Untitled (Football Helmet) by Jean-Michel Basquiat (1981-1984)
Last up is an object that might not be strictly construed as sculpture. (As I noted in my first Art Basel blog, some works are hard to categorize.) This helmet was featured in a space with walls covered with drawings evoking the work of Keith Haring and artwork by Haring, Basquiat, Andy Warhol and Richard Prince. I happened to be looking at this work when a docent came by with a tour. Needless to say, I listened in.

Basquiat affixed clippings from his own hair to the exterior of this football helmet. The docent shared that Basquiat told his friend Warhol that he was welcome to wear the helmet if he ever wanted to feel what it was like to be him. (I don't know if Warhol took Basquiat up on this offer.) She also noted the significance of football to the African-American community. Sports are a way out of poverty, and this headgear can be viewed as the equivalent of a crown. Of course we now all know the cost many professional football players pay for living the dream.

Next up: Favorite Text Art from Art Basel

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