National Academy Museum
and School of Fine Arts
Stages of Creation: Public Sculpture by National Academicians
January 7- March 8, 1998
An unusual exhibition on public sculpture explores the creative process from conception to installation - unusual, in part, because public sculpture is often large scale and is viewed in an outside setting rather than inside museum galleries. The exhibition is primarily composed of three-dimensional models and studies, as well as photographs and drawings borrowed from the personal archives of thirty-three artists. Additional documentary materials are on loan from cultural institutions across the country, and most of the objects in the exhibition - approximately 140 - have never before been on public view. Each artist is represented by a group of objects relating to one commission. Tracing a project's development to its completion, the objects may include three-dimensional studies in a variety of materials - such as bronze, clay, plaster, wax, or wood. In many cases, a final model is also featured. Photographs of the final work in situ reveal its ultimate scale and offer insights about installation. Stages of Creation: Public Sculpture by National Academicians was organized by Chief Curator David Dearinger and Assistant Curator Trudie Grace, and will be on view from January 7 through March 8, 1998.
Neil Estern (b. 1926) ANA 1992; NA 1994
Model for central figure in the The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, DC; final project unveiled in 1997 (commissioned by the United States Government); Media of model: bronze; Collection of the artist; Photo: Glenn Castellano
The works examined in Stages of Creation range in style from traditional figurative works, conceived as commemorative monuments, to large-scale abstract sculptures designed to enhance their environments. The featured artists are Leonard Baskin, Stanley Bleifeld, Louise Bourgeois, Aldo Casanova, Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Lewis Cohen, Laci De Gerenday, Tom Doyle, Mel Edwards, Herzl Emanuel, Neil Estern, Leonda Flake, Gilbert Franklin, Marshall Fredericks, Glenna Goodacre, Lorrie Goulet, Dimitri Hadzi, Harry Jackson, Penelope Jencks, Nathaniel Kaz, William King, Barbara Lekberg, Lloyd Lillie, Marisol, Richard McDermott Miller, Ernest Morenon, Tom Otterness, Charles O. Ferry, Tony Rosenthal, Sidney Simon, Immi Storrs, Robert White, and Isaac Witkin. The exhibition is dedicated to Sidney Simon, a very active artist-member of the Academy, who passed away in August of 1997.
Dr. Dearinger, the Chief Curator comments, "public sculpture has a tremendously long tradition, but given the often outdoor and large-scale nature of this type of work, such an exhibition is seldom attempted by a museum. We have found the process of organizing Stages of Creation to be a rich and rewarding one. The artists' personal archives provide a tremendous window into the individual explorations that occurred with each project. From working drawings to three-dimensional studies, to final installation photographs, each case study tells a unique story."
Glenna Goodacre (b. 1939) ANA 1994; NA 1994
Model for Vietnam Womens' Memorial, National Mall at the Vietnam Memorial, Washington, DC (commissioned by the Vietnam Womens' Memorial Project, final version unveiled 1993); Date of model: 1992; Media of model: bronze; Collection of the artist; Photo: Glenn Castellano
MATERIALS AND METHODS
The traditional materials of sculpture are marble, wood, and bronze. But sculptors rarely use only those elements in planning their work. Some make preparatory drawings of their initial ideas, but most use clay or wax. Sculptors shape their work with tools or with their hands, forming small models that vary in style from extremely impressionistic to highly finished studies. The plaster cast has been the one most frequently used in bronze casting. Examples of the materials used during these planning stages, such as small wax models, fired and unfired clay, and plaster casts are on view. Some of these retain the marks made as the cast was enlarged for use in bronze casting. Construction board, paper, and wire have also been used to create models.
Many artists enlarge their conceptions as they move from one model to another, eventually creating something closer to the final version. As they do so, their conceptions shift from impressionistic to naturalistic or vice versa. Figural stance, facial expression, and overall composition might also change.
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