Category Archives: Sculpture

Creative Juice #235

Creative Juice #235

Things to try. Things to remember.

Creative Juice #233

Creative Juice #233

Pretty to look at. Fun to think about.

Forgotten Artist: Rosa Bonheur

Rosa Bonheur

I recently read a captivating article in the Smithsonian magazine about a French artist I’d never heard of, Rosa Bonheur (March 16, 1822—May 25, 1899). Her story is a perfect topic for Women’s History Month.

Named Marie-Rosalie, she started painting as a child, with a little instruction from her art teacher father, and by copying paintings in the Louvre. By the time she was 26, she was winning awards for her art. Empress Eugénie (the wife of Napoleon III) awarded her the medal of Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, the first woman to be so honored for achievement in the arts. Royalty of Mexico, Spain, and Russia also honored her. She was the richest and most famous female artist of 19th-century France. Yet, today, few recognize her name.

Bonheur loved nature, and she collected many pets, such as dogs, sheep, horses, monkeys, lions, and tigers. She produced many detailed, life-like paintings and sculptures of animals. She liked to observe animals up close, often in all-male settings like livestock fairs and slaughterhouses. Wearing the long skirts of the day in such locations would be inconvenient; she had to apply for a special permit to wear male clothing, documented by a letter from her physician that it was required “for reason of health.”

The Horse Fair, Rosa Bonheur 1852-55
The Horse Fair by Rosa Bonheur, 1855-59
Plowing in Nevers by Rosa Bonheur
Weaning the Calves, Rosa Bonheur 1879
Weaning the Calves by Rosa Bonheur, 1879
A Limier Briquet Hound, Rosa Bonheur 1856
A Limier Briquet Hound by Rosa Bonheur, 1856
Walking Bull, Rosa Bonheur 1846
Walking Bull by Rosa Bonheur, 1846
Shorn Ewe, Rosa Bonheur 1842
Shorn Ewe by Rosa Bonheur, 1842

Rosa Bonheur achieved fame as an artist at a time when most female artists were not even taken seriously. After her death, her work fell out of fashion, but a woman recently purchased Bonheur’s former residence, which she is transforming into a museum of her work. To learn more about Bonheur and the effort to give her the attention she deserves, click the link in the first paragraph of this post.

Sunday Trees/ Sculpture Saturday: Tree Sculpture


Doing double duty today with Sunday Trees and Sculpture Saturday.

Faith Ringgold, Multi-Faceted Artist

Faith Ringgold, Multi-Faceted Artist

Faith Ringgold is a painter, sculptor, writer, quilter, and performance artist. She was born on October 8, 1930, in Harlem, New York, right in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance, to Andrew Louis Jones and Willi Posey Jones. Her mother was a fashion designer, and her father loved to tell stories. The home environment they created encouraged their children’s creativity. Because of asthma, Faith spent much of her childhood quietly at home, drawing, coloring, and sewing.

Her neighborhood was full of creative Black people. Duke Ellington and Langston Hughes lived around the corner. Sonny Rollins was one of her childhood friends.

She enrolled in City College of New York, planning to major in art, but in 1950, that was not an approved course of study for women; so she majored in art education instead. After graduation, she taught art in New York City public schools, painting on her own. Later, she served as a professor of art at the University of California in San Diego. Her paintings echoed the Civil Rights movement, and also the feminist movement, and coincided with her social activism. She was influenced by African art, particularly in her use of color.

Faith Ringgold; story quilt; quilt
Tar Beach 2 (1990), story quilt by Faith Ringgold. Photo by Brooklyn Museum; used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License; cropped.

After viewing an exhibit at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, she was inspired to create “story quilts” that combined painting and quilting in the African-American tradition. Her first story quilt was a collaboration with her mother.

The same trip also launched her foray into sculpture. She made masks, often extending them with bodies. Her sculptures are mostly soft sculptures, doll-like.

Photo of Faith Ringgold, taken in April, 2017 by Brooklyn Museum; used under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Ringgold has authored and/or illustrated 17 children’s books. Her books have earned her prestigious awards, such as the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award and the Coretta Scott King award for illustration. She was also a runner-up for the Caldecott Medal.

To learn more about Faith Ringgold’s life and to view high resolution images of her art, check out her website.

Creative Juice #228

Creative Juice #228

This is an art-heavy edition.

The Sculpture of Donatello

St. John the Evangelist, by Donatello. Photo by Richard Fabi; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

Donato di Niccolò di Betto Bardi, also known as Donatello, was a sculptor of the Italian Renaissance. Born in Florence circa 1386, he studied classical sculpture and developed a unique Renaissance style. He worked in stone, bronze, wood, clay, stucco and wax, and had several assistants. Though his best-known works were mostly statues in the round, he developed a new, shallow type of bas-relief, and much of his work was architectural relief.

He received his early artistic training in a goldsmith’s workshop, and then worked briefly in the studio of Lorenzo Ghiberti.

In Pistoia in 1401, Donatello met the older Filippo Brunelleschi. They went to Rome together around 1403 to study the architectural ruins. Brunelleschi informally tutored Donatello in goldsmithing and sculpture. The duo’s works are considered prime examples of Renaissance architecture and sculpture, and they profoundly influenced other artists of the age.

St. Mark, by Donatelo. Photo by C Nelson; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alive 3.0 Unported license.

In Florence, Donatello assisted Lorenzo Ghiberti with the statues of prophets for the north door of the Baptistery of Florence Cathedral. In 1409–1411 he finished the colossal seated figure of Saint John the Evangelist, which until 1588 occupied a niche of the old cathedral façade, and now stands in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo. This work marks a step forward from late Gothic Mannerism toward naturalism and the rendering of human feelings. The face, the shoulders and the bust are still idealized, while the hands and the fold of cloth over the legs are more realistic.

In 1411–1413, Donatello worked on a statue of St. Mark for the guild church of Orsanmichele. In 1417 he completed the Saint George for the confraternity of armor-makers. From 1423 he sculpted frame and the statue of Saint Louis of Toulouse for the Orsanmichele, now in the Museum of the Basilica di Santa Croce.

Donatello created five statues for the bell tower of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence, also known as the Duomo. These works are the Beardless ProphetBearded Prophet (both from 1415); the Sacrifice of Isaac (1421);  Habbakuk (1423–25); and Jeremiah (1423–26). In 1425, he carved a Crucifix for Santa Croce, which portrays Christ in His agony.

Santa Croce Crucifix, by Donatello. Photo by Sailko; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

From 1425 to 1427, Donatello worked on some funeral monuments. He also produced The Feast of Herod in bas-relief, one of the first examples of one-point perspective in sculpture.

Donatello also restored antique sculptures for the Palazzo Medici.

David, by Donatello. Photo by Patrick A. Rogers; used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Donatello’s bronze David, now in the Bargello museum, is Donatello’s most famous work, and the first known free-standing nude statue produced since antiquity. Conceived fully in the round, independent of any architectural surroundings, it is the first major work of Renaissance sculpture. It was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici for the courtyard of his Palazzo Medici. It is most often dated to the 1440s.

In 1443, Donatello was called to Padua by the heirs of the famous mercenary Erasmo da Narni (better known as the Gattamelata, or “Honey-Cat”), to create a posthumous likeness of him. Completed in 1450 and placed in the square facing the Basilica of St. Anthony, his Equestrian Monument of Gattamelata was the first such monument since ancient times. (Other equestrian statues from the 14th century had not been executed in bronze and had been placed over tombs rather than erected independently, in a public place.) This work became the prototype for other equestrian monuments executed in Italy and Europe in the following centuries.

Equestrian statue of Gattamelata, by Donatello.

Donatello was one of Michelangelo’s influences.

He died in Florence in 1466.

Creative Juice #223

Creative Juice #223

Happy New Year! (May it be better than last year. Please, God. Amen.)

Creative Juice #220

Creative Juice #220

One of my favorite blogs, which I visit almost every day, is MyOBT, which stands for “one beautiful thing.” Donna’s mission is to post one beautiful thing every day, and she succeeds, although sometimes the post might be more funny than beautiful. (But I always appreciate a laugh—don’t you?) If you follow Creative Juice every Friday, you know it almost always contains a post from MyOBT. I try not to post more than one article from any one blog on a single Friday, but in Donna’s case I sometimes have to make an exception, because her output of beauty is just so vast and I want to share it all. In fact, if you love her posts, too, you should follow her blog yourself so you don’t miss a single one. If you need more convincing, today’s CJ features a dozen wonderful posts from MyOBT.

Video of the Week #283: Wind-Powered Kinetic Sculpture