Ayr State High School
Visual Art Comparative Essay
Due: 30th of August
Artists have produced representational as well as abstract sculptural creations of the human form for thousands of years. In sculpture, the term representational art refers to images that are recognizable to the human eye for what they are meant to be, for example, the human figure. Representational art techniques such as, hyper-realism are commonly found in the sculptural artist Ron Mueck’s work. Abstract sculptures however, do not conform to the realistic style. Abstract sculptures explore different forms and colours more, which is seen in the artist Henry Moore’s work. Henry Moore creates sculptures of human figures but adds a nonrepresentational touch by changing features of the subject, for example; their proportions.
right13335’Old Couple on a Bench’, Duane Hanson, 1994, Serpentine Galleries
00’Old Couple on a Bench’, Duane Hanson, 1994, Serpentine Galleries
‘Old Couple on a Bench’ was created by Duane Hanson in 1994 of the photorealism movement and is held in Serpentine Galleries in Central London. In Duane Hanson’s forty-year career, he made lifelike sculptures portraying regular American citizens and other members of society. Hanson’s sculptures transform everyday life into relatable material. The photorealism style started in the early 1960s and was depicted in reference to those artists who work specifically using photographs, which they often projected onto a canvas allowing for the sculpture/drawing/painting to be created with a high level of accuracy. The sculpture displays two ordinary, elderly citizens in casual wear sitting on a wooden bench. It is quite a simple portrayal of our current society. Duane Hanson has successfully used several elements such as size/space and texture in this sculpture. Size and shape has been used in ‘Old Couple on a Bench’ due to the sculpture being life-size and shaped like ordinary people. This makes the audience feels like it is just real people sitting on a bench in every-day society. Texture in the piece includes the roughness of the clothing, the smoothing of the skin and the softness of the hair. The element of texture also creates a sense of reality to the artwork. Hanson has used materials such as polyester resin, autobody filler, and bronze. Overall, Hanson’s sculpture has created a neutral mood within the audience due to the average subject matter of an ‘Old Couple on a Bench.’
right11430’Mask II’, Ron Mueck, 2001-2002, Holburne Museum
00’Mask II’, Ron Mueck, 2001-2002, Holburne Museum
‘Mask II’ was sculpted by famous artist Ron Mueck between the years 2001 and 2002, it is part of the hyper-realism art movement and is currently being held in Holburne Museum in England. Mueck’s techniques in sculpting realistically and their ability to interact with society, Ron Mueck’s sculptures have made him one of the most well-known sculptors in the industry. Hyperrealism is a type of art which is usually based off a photograph or real life. This method of creating art is still being used in current times, however, this method has been used since the early 1970s. Ron Mueck is one of the main artists in the movement. In the image shown on the right, the sculpture shows a man, which is a self-portrait, innocently dozing away on its platform. The sculpture can be depicted in a way which is that Ron Mueck was trying to create an object with a human presence. This has been done due to Mueck responding to the extremely fine details of the human body and form as well as, playing with scale to produce encapsulating visual images. (Hyper-realism) Elements that have been embedded into Ron Mueck’s ‘Mask II’ include, texture and size/shape. Texture has been successfully used in this piece by Ron Mueck because of the smooth skin texture, the slight sheen to the lips and face, the hairs of hair, eyelashes, eyebrows and stubble have all been added to this to create a hyper realistic sculpture. Size/shape has been added into the sculpture because the size of the creation is larger than a life size sculpture making it a wonder to look at in person due to the amount of detail. Materials used include, resin, fiberglass, silicone, and many other materials. To complete, Ron Mueck has portrayed an engaged and uncomfortable mood in the audience due to the huge scale of the sculpture, ‘Mask II’.
right0’Recumbent Figure’, Henry Moore, 1938, Tate
00’Recumbent Figure’, Henry Moore, 1938, Tate
‘Recumbent Figure’ was created by Henry Moore in 1938, it is currently being held in the Tate Museum in Britain and is part of the modernism movement which began in 1850. A main characteristic of modernism is the experimentation with form, as well as with the use of techniques. Modernism has clearly excluded the ideology of realism. Henry Moore has used abstract forms to combine both the human body with the landscape. One of Moore’s earliest works in which shows the female figure laying down like the landscape. The abstract piece was carved from a rectangular block of Green Hornton stone. Henry Moore specialised in creating sculptures based on the mother and child in addition, the reclining figure. The elements that can be seen in this figure include, shape and tone. Shape plays a major part in this figure as the form of the woman is not regularly proportioned as it is an abstract piece. The holes in the sculpture change the piece up to create and abstract piece, as well as, there are no details such as hair, eyelashes, mouth, feet displayed. However, it is still clear it is a human form of a woman. The existing tone of the Green Hornton Stone has a significant effect due to it being a dark skin tone. Brown as a colour that was chosen also successfully conveys to the viewers that it is an exaggerated female human figure of a dark skin tone. Overall, Henry Moore has clearly shown the audience what the abstract piece is meant to be.
506984010160’Muse’, Constantin Brancusi, 1912, Guggenheim Museum
00’Muse’, Constantin Brancusi, 1912, Guggenheim Museum
‘Muse’ was produced by the well-known artist Constantin Brancusi in 1912, which was also a part of the modernism movement. The sculpture is currently being held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York. This movement had a significant impact on artists at the time. Modern art is characterized by the artist’s objective to portray a subject as it exists in the world, according to his unique perspective. Brancusi had a signature style which was elegant due to its simplicity. He inspired numerous sculptors to focus on the fundamentals which are, form and space. Constantin often used – marble, stone, bronze, wood, and metal in his sculptures. This piece which has been named ‘Muse’ represents a woman and also conveys the spirit of femininity. The oval-shaped head is positioned upright and supported by a curved neck and an abbreviated torso. The two key elements in the abstract feminine sculpture include shape and size/space. Shape has been carefully added to the sculpture to add the effect of a feminine face. The carved out face, which includes a small nose, mouth and the stereotypical large eyes of a female. Size/space has also been used in the sculpture, which is shown throw the tiny size of the figure. The petite sculpture clearly adds to the point of the piece being of a feminine gender. Overall, Constantin Brancusi was successful in constructing this simple but easily understood piece.
Representational and abstract art are complete opposites when it comes to how each sculpture is produced, they both have their similarities and differences between them. The two artworks that will be contrasted against each other will be ‘Old Couple on a Bench’ by Duane Hanson and ‘Recumbent Figure’ by Henry Moore. ‘Old Couple on a Bench’ was created using the materials including, polyester resin, autobody filler, and bronze. The subject matter of the sculpture was two elderly people sitting on a bench, maybe waiting for a bus to stop. Modelling was used for the technique. Effects and moods that were created from the piece consist of a neutral, life-like mood as it is shown as everyday life. On the other hand, ‘Recumbent Figure’ consisted of only Green Hornton Stone and was carved. The mood and effect that is present is a relaxed mood due to the comfortable position of the figure. Ideas shown from the piece include a relaxed feminine figure. The two sculptures both clash because in the representational piece it is clear that a lot more materials are needed to create texture; the abstract only required one material, making it a simplistic artwork. These two pieces also look very different from each other, especially the amount of detail of the human form. ‘Old Couple on a Bench’ has incorporated lots of fine details in the face like eyelashes, eyes etc.; whereas on the ‘Recumbent Figure’ there is no sign of prominent facial and body features. The mood when looking at each picture is quite different due to the representational tending to have a relatable and neutral moods. In contrast to this the abstract piece has a quite relaxed and free vibe to it because of the laying pose of the woman depicted. Each of the personalities in both artworks will clearly be different because the elderly couple will be just like everyday citizens. Whereas the ‘Recumbent Figure’ will have a more cultural and relaxed presence. Overall, both artworks have successfully conveyed meaning throughout the use of techniques of the artists, but have their uniqueness about them.