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Art

Elegantly Sculpted Busts by Massimiliano Pelletti Interpret Art History Through Imperfection

September 28, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Italian artist Massimiliano Pelletti (previously) gravitates toward imperfection, and his practice revolves around transforming presumed defects like impurities, cracks, or chips into elegantly carved figures. Pink marble sliced to reveal the stone’s pillowy, crystalline insides bisects the artist’s interpretation of Venus de Medici, while in “Blue Venus,” marbled sodalite and Mexican white onyx are spliced together into a fully formed bust. Contrasting smooth segments with the rough texture of unpolished stone, Pelletti evokes art history and ancient sculpture traditions through the lens of flaw and fallibility.

This focus on the material determines much of the artist’s work—his studio is conveniently located in Pietrasanta near caves filled with the precious stones he utilizes—in addition to the way green onyx or black marble, for example, interacts with light. Understanding absorption, reflection, and illumination has grounded his practice and is a skill he’s developed for decades. He explains:

When I was a child, I used to go downstairs to my grandfather’s studio, and I could find him working marble, always next to the same window; from there, during certain hours, a magical light entered that could make the sculpture almost alive, with a soul. When I pointed it out to him, he answered me: “My dear, the light is so important. There are some works that should be sold with the window that lights them up”. 

Pelletti is currently working toward a solo show slated for May 2023 in London, in addition to a series of sculptures set for display in a public square in Italy. Until then, follow his practice on Instagram.

 

“Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

“Green Hermes” (2022), green onyx, 177 x 26 x 26 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Le due Grazie” (2019), Mexican white onyx, 65 x 65 x 48 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

“Venus de Medici” (2020), pink onyx, 67 x 34 x 45 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti

Detail of “Blue Horizon” (2022), sodalite and Mexican white onyx, 64 x 33 x 40 centimeters, 16-centimeter iron base. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Bowman Sculpture, London

“White Venus” (2022), Mexican white onyx, 173 x 31 x 43 centimeters. Photo by Nicola Gnesi, courtesy of Massimiliano Pelletti and Galerie Bayart, Paris

 

 

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Art

Glitches Distort Art Historical Figures in Abstracted Marble Sculptures by Léo Caillard

March 16, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Léo Caillard, shared with permission

The oscillating curves of a sine wave become a disfiguring characteristic in Léo Caillard’s ongoing Wave Stone series. Carved in white Carrara marble and stone with green and gray ripples, the French artist’s sleek renditions of Aphrodite, Laocoön, and Venus appear to have warped, glitched, or transformed into a tight spiral. Much of Caillard’s work is anachronistic, and he tells Colossal that “the face of the statue connects the piece to its reality, a representation of a classical and iconic figure from the past,” while the abstractions create new gaps of negative space.

Caillard has a few exhibitions slated for the coming months, and you can follow news about those shows in addition to new works on his Instagram.

 

 

 



Art

Polished Feet and Ears Emerge from Rugged Hunks of Marble in Dorothy Cross’s Sculptures

March 1, 2022

Grace Ebert

Detail of “Blue Dive” (2021), sodalite, 70 x 30 x 30 centimeters. Photo by Stephen White & Co., courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery. All images shared with permission

In Dorothy Cross’s “Blue Dive,” a pair of feet with curled, spread toes breach a rugged fragment of vibrant stone streaked with white veins. The sculpture casts the Connemara-based Cork-born artist’s own extremities into a block of rare Brazilian sodalite, a nod to the fleeting nature of human time in comparison to the longevity and enduring qualities of Earth’s resources.

The rich, stone carving is just one anatomical piece in Cross’s solo exhibition titled Damascus Rose, which is open through April 14 at London’s Frith Street Gallery. From a sleek, tiled walkway to a pillow bearing a single ear, many of the sculptures on view are chiseled into the red-hued titular stone and were born out of the artist’s experience in Carrara, Italy, a region known for its marble.

Like her broader oeuvre, these new pieces consider the body’s relationship to time. Cross’s chronology is lengthy, spanning from the biblical stories of St. Paul to the current crises in Syria that confront “the horror of human evacuation and the thwarted attempts by thousands forced to migrate across oceans to supposedly safer lands,” a statement says. Other works like the uncanny “Red Baby” are more personal and are modeled after the artist’s childhood pillow, portraying an ear protruding from the center where an impression might otherwise be.

 

“Red Baby” (2021), Damascus Rose, 40 x 40 x 10 centimeters. Photo by Stephen White & Co., courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery

Earlier projects fall under similar themes of change and subsequent loss, including a 2019 sculpture in which a small shark emerges from a white marble flooring. The sprawling piece links the marine animal’s 400-million year lineage to the more recent development of the stone and addresses the threat of over-fishing and finning to the current population.

Because of its size, “Red Erratic,” the imposing block topped with multiple pairs of overlapping feet, is unable to be displayed in Frith Street Gallery and instead will be on view during the next year at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens in Cornwall. Cross’s site includes a vast archive of her works across mediums, and it’s worth taking a look at her Instagram to view the carving process.

 

“ROOM” (2019), Carrara marble. Image courtesy of Kerlin Gallery

“Red Erratic” at Studio Carlo Nicoli, Carrara, Italy. Photo courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery

“Red Road” (2021). Photos courtesy of the artist and Frith Street Gallery

“Red Road” (2021). Photo by Ben Westoby, courtesy of Frith Street Gallery

“Listen Listen” (2019), Greek marble. Image courtesy of Kerlin Gallery

 

 



Art

Miniature Architectural Spaces Nestle into Carved Chunks of Raw Marble

May 25, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Tetraconch II” (2019), Faxe limestone, 38 centimeters. All images © Matthew Simmonds, shared with permission

Since antiquity, marble has been a preferred material for sculptors and architects alike because of its relative softness and the unlikelihood that it’ll shatter. British artist Matthew Simmonds (previously) fuses these two traditional forms and honors their history with his miniature models carved into hunks of the raw stone. Evoking ancient ruins and sacred architecture—most pieces aren’t modeled after specific structures—the chiseled sculptures are complete with grand archways, ornately tiled ceilings, and minuscule statues on display in their halls.

Within the spaces, Simmonds contrasts the rough, jagged edges of the stone with precise angles and detailed flourishes. “Drawing on the formal language and philosophy of architecture the work explores themes of positive and negative form, the significance of light and darkness, and the relationship between nature and human endeavor,” he says in a statement.

See more of the artist’s carved interiors, which are often less than a foot wide, on his site.

 

“Mystras” (2020), Carrara marble, 39 centimeters

Left: “Essay in Perpendicular” (2018), limestone, 42 centimeters. Right: “Window” (2020), limestone, 24 centimeters

Detail of “Hidden Landscape II” (2019), Carrara marble, 180 centimeters

“Gothic Passage II” (2021), limestone, 25.5 centimeters

Left: “Single Helix II” (2019), Faxe limestone, 24 centimeters. Right: “Landscape: study” (2020), limestone, 10 centimeters

Detail of “Basilica V” (2020), Carrara marble, 170 centimeters

“Stepwell” (2020), Faxe limestone, 39 centimeters

Detail of “Stepwell” (2020), Faxe limestone, 39 centimeters

 

 



History

Archaeologists Uncover a Lavish Marble Floor from Ancient Rome in Southern France

March 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

Image © Bertrand Houix, Inrap . All images courtesy of Inrap, shared with permission

Developers of an apartment building in Nîmes, France, had to halt construction last month when archaeologists discovered an opulent tiled floor that once blanketed a Roman villa, or domu. Dating back to 1-2 A.D., the checkered design is comprised of marble from multiple empirical provinces that’s inlaid into the foundation, a style called opus sectile that was prevalent during ancient times. Spanning multiple feet, the multi-colored pattern is thought to occupy what once was a reception area.

During their dig, archaeologists also uncovered plaster sheets that had caved in on the impeccably preserved tiles featuring classic frescoes on red and black panels. Lines score the back of the decorative pieces, which would have helped them adhere to the earthen walls. Other findings indicate that this domu, along with another nearby, were particularly lavish and featured a private bath, a concrete floor speckled with decorative gemstones, and a large central fountain made from Carrara white marble. One room even had remains of hypocaust heating, an inventive system that sent hot air underneath the flooring to warm the home. (via The History Blog)

 

Image © Charlotte Gleize, Inrap

Sheets of decorative plaster covering the tile floor. Image © Pascal Druelle, Inrap

Image © Pascal Druelle, Inrap

Two rooms of the domu, with evidence of the heating system on the left. Image © Charlotte Gleize, Inrap

Marble gemstones decorate the concrete floor. Image © Bertrand Houix, Inrap

 

 



Art

Australian Plants Grow from the Crevices of Jamie North’s Living Sculptures

December 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Rock Melt” (2015), cement, blast furnace slag, expanded glass, iron oxide, steel, Australian native plants, 350-550 x 60 x 60 centimeters. All images © Jamie North, shared with permission

Embedded within the eroded cement and marble pillars of artist Jamie North are a host of plants native to Australia. Kangaroo vines, Port Jackson figs, and kidney weeds wrap themselves around steel cables and grow from the crevices of the cracked stone forms, juxtaposing the industrial, human-made sculptures with organic elements. The lush greenery infuses the otherwise dilapidated structures with new life, which elicits a larger theme of regeneration.

In a note to Colossal, North writes that he begins each vertical work with a geometric cast evoking the stately shapes of the tower and column. When complete, the size of the sculptures ambiguously references various architectural elements. “Both tower and column are often associated with progress, triumph, and hubris,” he says. “These associations are addressed in my work by preemptive material erosion making the object conducive to plant sustainment, growth, and eventual merger with the inorganic form.”

View more of North’s living sculptures on his site and Instagram.

 

“Succession” (2016), cement, steel, blast furnace slag, recycled expanded glass, coal ash, oyster shell, organic matter, Australian plants, 400 x 90 and 450 x 90 centimeters. Photo by Ashley Barber, courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery

“Succession” (2016), cement, steel, blast furnace slag, recycled expanded glass, coal ash, oyster shell, organic matter, Australian plants, 400 x 90 and 450 x 90 centimeters

“Terraforms” (2014), cement, marble waste, limestone, coal ash, organic matter, and various Australian plants. Photo by Ashley Barber, courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery

Left: “Succession” (2016), cement, steel, blast furnace slag, recycled expanded glass, coal ash, oyster shell, organic matter, Australian plants, 400 x 90 and 450 x 90 centimeters. Photo by Ashley Barber, courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery. Right: “Rock Melt” (2015), cement, blast furnace slag, expanded glass, iron oxide, steel, Australian native plants, 350-550 x 60 x 60 centimeters

“Terraforms” (2014), cement, marble waste, limestone, coal ash, organic matter, and various Australian plants. Photo by Ashley Barber, courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery

“Terraforms” (2014), cement, marble waste, limestone, coal ash, organic matter, and various Australian plants. Photo by Ashley Barber, courtesy of Sarah Cottier Gallery

“Rock Melt” (2015), cement, blast furnace slag, expanded glass, iron oxide, steel, Australian native plants, 350-550 x 60 x 60 centimeters

 

 

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