Category Archives: Figure sculpture

Research point: Figure sculpture

The latest piece of art to occupy the 4th plinth in Trafalgar square has been unveiled.   A bright blue Cockerel by German artist Katharina Fritsch replaces Powerless Structures which has been there for the past 18 months.

I know it is modern and we have to move with the times with public art and I did like Yink Shonibare’s Nelson’s Ship in a bottle but I’m not sure about this piece.

It is surprising what becomes popular with the British public.  Here in Liverpool we have a bright yellow ‘Superlambanana’.  It was originally made by the Japanese artist Taro Chiezo in 1998 as Liverpool’s contribution to the ArtTransPennine Exhibition and was an ironic comment on ‘genetic engineering’, at one time bananas and lamb were once a common cargo being imported and exported down at Liverpool docks.   When it was first displayed in Liverpool it was controversial but over the years has become a popular and valued piece of art in the city.

Project-7-objects-in-different-positions-in-the-frame-close-to-edge(c) Susan Devonport

In 2008 as part of Liverpool’s European Capital of Culture tenure, 125 two metre high versions were commissioned and became an unlikely hit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport – Baa Nitez Liverpool Football Club manager

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport – Koppy

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c)Susan Devonport – Everton Football Club

One was even dressed up as the Mayor of Liverpool at the Town hall.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport – SuperSgtPepperYellowLambSubmarineBanana

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport

For a time there had been some doubt about the Superlambanana staying in Liverpool when it came to light that it was only on a 10 year loan from the artist, but in September 2008 talks began and 6 months later an agreement was reached whereby a replica would be made by one of the original sculptors Julian Taylor and stay in the city for the next 80 years.

You can see photos of most of the smaller Superlambananas here

I always knew we had a sense of humour here in Liverpool and even Granada Reports got in on the act back in 2008.

It’s been reported ‘Lamby’ has escaped, they think she has been liberated by an animal right group – 54 seconds in.

 Lamby was found safe and sound and released into the wild <img style='border: 0; padding:0'  src='https://i1.wp.com/us.i1.yimg.com/us.yimg.com/i/mesg/emoticons7/3.gif' alt=';)'/>

Research Point: Portrait sculpture

A sculpture portrays a sitter quite differently than a picture; its presence comes, in part, from being bodied forth in the full dimensions of life, from  space in the same way as real people. That gives it, so to speak, a head start. But not the least fascination of Presence is how such objects come to resemble portraits in the first place, and how they get this potent look of life.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2012/jun/03/presence-art-portrait-sculpture-holburne-review

There are a few portrait statues outside St George’s Hall Liverpool

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert both by Thomas Thornycroft.   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Thornycroft

http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/thornycroftt/3.html

http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/thornycroftt/4b.html

Prince-Albert

(c) Susan Devonport

The next 2 are by Charles Bell Birch                                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Bell_Birch

This statue of Major-General Earle shows him ready for battle.

Major-General-Earle(c) Susan Devonport

http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/birch/3.html

Disraeli(c) Susan Devonport

This statue of Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield shows him with the ceremonial garter of the Knight of the Garter worn just below the knee.

http://www.victorianweb.org/sculpture/birch/4.html

The above statues are all from the Victorian era but the following statues are from the late 20th century.  The legendary Bill Shankly sporting a football scarf outside Anfield,  home of Liverpool Football Club

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(c) Susan Devonport

and Dixie Dean holding a football (NB no longer in this position outside Everton Football Club)

Project-6-Fiting-the-frame-to-the-subject-fit-frame(c) Susan Devonport

All these examples show how hard it is to show a subject’s status or achievements in a sculpture compared to a painting.   Queen Victoria and Prince Albert are immediately recognizable to most people but what if the subject of the sculpture isn’t.  For instance in the mid 19th century people would have known that Major-General Earle was killed in the Sudan when he was en route to Khartoum to rescue General Gordon but how many do today?

One of the obvious techniques a sculptor can use to convey the subject’s status or achievements is to include something that is associated with them as in the many statues of Queen Victoria were she is shown holding the Orb and Sceptre.

NB  After I had written this post I re-read the course material and was unsure if I had done this Research correctly but after watching this video from the V & A I realize that there are portrait busts and portrait figures.