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Article

Absalon  

John-Paul Stonard

[Eshel, Meir]

(b Tel Aviv, Dec 26, 1964; d Paris, Oct 10, 1993).

Israeli sculptor. He adopted the name Absalon on his arrival in Paris in the late 1980s. During his short career he achieved widespread recognition for the 1:1 scale architectural models that he constructed of idealized living units. These wooden models, painted white, demonstrate an obsession with order, arrangement and containment, and have associations both of protective shelters and monastic cells. They were designed to be placed in several cities and to function as living-pods for the artist as he travelled. Exhibiting a series of six ‘cellules’ in Paris in 1993, he described how they were fitted both to his body and to his mental space, but were also able to condition the movements of his body in line with their idealized architecture. Although he denied their apparent utopianism, the sculptures can be viewed as the reduction of the utopian aims of early modern architecture (as seen in the work of the Constructivists, de Stijl and Le Corbusier) to the level of individual subjectivity. This suggests both the failure of architectural social engineering and its inevitable basis in subjective, anti-social vision. Absalon’s habitational units also have an element of protest. In an interview for the ...

Article

(b Istanbul, 1898; d Istanbul, 1957).

Turkish sculptor. After military service in World War I he went in 1918 to the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul, where he studied under the sculptor Ihsan Özsoy (1867–1944). With the help of his father he then went to Germany, where he studied at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. From Munich he went to Paris, where, after failing to get lessons from Aristide Maillol, he worked independently, inspired by the work of Maillol and Emile-Antoine Bourdelle. After returning to Turkey in 1925 and passing an examination he was able to go back to Paris, where he entered the Académie Julian and worked under the sculptors Henri Bouchard (1875–1960) and Paul Landowski (1875–1961). He returned to Turkey in 1928 and worked first as an art teacher at Edirne Teachers' College and then at various middle schools in Istanbul until his death. His principal works included the monument in Menemen to ...

Article

D. C. Barrett

(b Rishon-le-Zion, Palestine [now Israel], May 11, 1928).

Israeli painter and sculptor. He studied at the Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem under Mordecai Ardon in 1946, and from 1951 in Paris at the Atelier d’Art Abstrait and at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. The major influences on his early work were Kandinsky’s Über das Geistige in der Kunst (1912), the Bauhaus ideas disseminated by Johannes Itten and Siegfried Giedion, with whom he came into contact in Zurich in 1949, and the work of Max Bill. Between 1951 and 1953 his work consisted of a series of Contrapuntal and Transformable Pictures, such as Transformable Relief (1953; Paris, R. N. Lebel priv. col., see Metken, p. 6). In 1953 he held his first one-man exhibition at the Galerie Craven in Paris. Although his claims that this was the first exhibition of kinetic art, and that he was the first optical-kinetic artist, have been disputed, he was certainly among the first artists to encourage spectator participation in such a direct way....

Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Ian M. E. Shaw

Ancient Egyptian art style that takes its name from Amarna, (Tell) el-, the site of the capital city during the reigns of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc) and Smenkhkare (reg c. 1335–c. 1332 bc). Amarna-style painting and sculpture were characterized by a move away from the traditional idealism of Egyptian art towards a greater realism and artistic freedom. This new sense of vigour and naturalism is most apparent in surviving fragments of paintings from the walls and floors of palaces (Cairo, Egyp. Mus., and Oxford, Ashmolean; see Egypt, ancient §X 2.). The statuary and reliefs, mainly from el-Amarna, Thebes and Hermopolis Magna, represent the royal family and their subjects in a style that was initially grotesque and often crude, as the artists struggled to come to terms with the new approach (see Egypt, ancient §IX 3., (viii)). However, they eventually reached a high degree of sophistication and beauty, exemplified by the painted limestone bust of Queen ...

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

C. Hobey-Hamsher

(fl first quarter of the 5th century bc).

Greek sculptor. The Greek city states that defeated the Persians at Plataia in 479 bc set aside a tithe for Zeus at Olympia from which was made a bronze statue of the god, 10 cubits tall. When Pausanias visited Olympia he saw the statue standing near the Bouleuterion and assigned it to Anaxagoras (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tehran, 1934).

Iranian sculptor. Trained at the College of Decorative Arts, Tehran, he held his first solo exhibition at the Iran-India Center, Tehran in 1964. Inspired by Achaemenid and Assyrian art as well as by Babylonian carvings and inscriptions, Arabshahi has been associated with Hussein Zenderoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, and the Saqqakhana movement. His work has been shown in Iran, Europe, and the United States. Among his major commissions are sculptures and architectural reliefs for the Office for Industry and Mining, Tehran (...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Tehran, Jul 10, 1939).

American sculptor of Iranian birth. Armajani studied in Iran at the University of Tehran before immigrating to the USA in 1960 to complete his studies in philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, where he settled permanently. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Armajani used the language of vernacular architecture in his sculpture to create spaces into which the viewer moves, sometimes being literally surrounded by the sculpture. Cellar doors, back stairways, loading docks, benches, bridges, porches, gazebos, and other such homely architectural elements are the inspiration for his sculptures and installations. Early in Armajani’s career he was on the faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he lectured on philosophy and conceptual art, but he left teaching in 1975 to concentrate exclusively on his sculpture.

Armajani stated repeatedly that his intention was to create a “neighborly” space, that is, a space that brings people together. His public sculpture is perhaps best thought of as social sculpture, in the sense meant by postwar German artist Joseph Beuys: a community-seeking, politically progressive, public art. Armajani’s many commissions include the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Morristown, NJ, Oct 29, 1955).

American sculptor. He studied Oriental and Middle Eastern cultures and languages before later graduating in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1993). Ashkin gained international recognition in the mid-1990s for his tabletop dioramas of inhospitable, often deserted, American landscapes. Influenced by Robert Smithson’s interest in the concept of entropy as well as more traditional landscape discourses such as Romanticism and the Sublime, Ashkin’s work has often suggested vast inhuman wastelands, although their real scale might only be a few square feet. His earliest works concentrated on semi-arid deserts, but soon the dominant motif switched to semi-stagnant marshes. No. 33 (1996; see exh. cat.), typical of the numerical nomination of his work, depicts a long, thin freeway in a swampy wilderness; a single truck drives along and telegraph wires line the road, suggesting vast distances. No. 15 (1996; see exh. cat.) is smaller in size, though again the tiny scale of the trucks that pass in convoy over a swampy, pock-marked landscape suggest great expanse. More recently Ashkin has expanded his practice into video and photography exploring the Sublime. ...

Article

Frederick N. Bohrer

Style of the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th, inspired by Assyrian artefacts of the 9th to 7th centuries bc. These were first brought to public attention through the excavations by Paul-Emile Botta (1802–70) at Khorsabad and Austen Henry Layard at Nimrud in the 1840s. By 1847 both the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London had begun to display these objects, the size and popularity of which were such that the Louvre created a separate Musée des Antiquités Orientales, while the British Museum opened its separate Nineveh Gallery in 1853. The same popularity, fuelled by Layard’s best-selling Nineveh and its Remains (London, 1849) and Botta’s elaborate Monument de Ninive (Paris, 1849–50), led to further explorations elsewhere in Mesopotamia.

Assyrian revivalism first appeared in England rather than France, which was then in political turmoil. The earliest forms of emulation can be found in the decorative arts, such as the ‘Assyrian style’ jewellery that was produced in England from as early as ...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

Ulrike Gaisbauer

(b Batum, USSR [now Batumi, Georgia], Sept 26, 1922).

Austrian sculptor of Greek descent. He was the son of Greek parents and grew up in Batum, where he studied at the Staatliche Kunstschule (1937–9). From 1939 to 1943 he was in Athens and in 1943 settled in Vienna. From 1945 to 1949 he studied painting at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna with Robin Andersen. From 1953 to 1956 he studied sculpture with Fritz Wotruba. The starting-point of all Avramidis’s sculptures was the human body, reduced to the simplest possible elements of a column and sphere. The archaic character, influenced principally by ancient Greek sculpture, merged with the notion of absolute beauty, which manifests itself in forms of perfect rotundity, for example Head II (bronze, h. 270 mm, 1965; Hamburg, Gal. Elke Dröscher). Whilst dispensing with individual details, he created bodies of immaculately tranquil harmony, their shape characterized by the interaction between individual parts and an imposingly dominant monumental whole. These often took the form of clusters of columnar forms suggesting intimate crowds of figures. From ...

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

Article

(b Tehran, Sept 19, 1906; d Istanbul, 1971).

Turkish sculptor . His family moved to Turkey when he was young. He studied at the Fine Arts Academy in Istanbul (1923–7) and after graduating went to Paris on a bursary, where he studied sculpture under Henri Bouchard at the Académie Julian and then under Charles Despiau. On returning to Turkey (1930) he became an assistant teacher at the Fine Arts Academy. During the 1930s he worked on the Adana Monument (1935) and the monument to Atatürk (1937) at the military residence in Istanbul. With Zühtü Müridoğlu he also worked on the statue of the 16th-century Ottoman admiral Barbarossa in Beşiktaş, Istanbul, which was erected in 1946 on the 400th anniversary of Barbarossa’s death, and the monument of Atatürk and Ismet Inönü on Horseback in Zonguldak. He visited Paris again between 1949 and 1950 when he was inspired by non-figural sculpture, which thereafter took precedence in his work. After returning to Istanbul, he taught sculpture at the Fine Arts Academy with ...

Article

Bek  

R. Krauss

[Bak]

(fl c. 1340 bc). Egyptian sculptor. Bek’s career as Overseer of Works at the Red Mountain and Overseer of Sculptors coincided with the reign of Akhenaten (reg c. 1353–c. 1336 bc). Numerous fragments of statuary excavated at el-Amarna (the site of Akhenaten’s capital city) can be attributed to Bek’s workshop, making him—like his contemporary Thutmose—one of the few ancient Egyptian artists with whom particular pieces can be associated.

A rock relief at Aswan depicts Akhenaten as a living person, if larger than life, together with the sculptor and his father Men (also an Overseer of Sculptors), in the act of adoring a colossal statue of Amenophis III (reg c. 1390–c. 1353 bc). While Men too adores the statue, Bek greets King Akhenaten. The associated text assigns Bek responsibility for ‘very great monuments’ in the ‘Great Sun Temple’ at el-Amarna. It also describes him as an ‘apprentice whom his majesty himself taught’, a phrase that is often taken to imply the direct, personal involvement of Akhenaten in the formulation of the so-called ...

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

Alison Manges Nogueira

Monumental, marble paschal Candlestick of the late 12th to early 13th century with reliefs signed by Nicolaus de Angelo and Vassallettus now in S Paolo fuori le Mura, Rome. The imposing column (h. 5.6 m), adorned with six registers of reliefs and surmounted by a fluted candle holder, rests upon a base of sculpted lions, sphinxes, rams and female figures. The upper and lower reliefs bear vegetal and ornamental patterns while the three central registers portray Christ before Caiaphas, the Mocking of Christ, Christ before Pilate, Pilate Washing his Hands, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection and the Ascension. The culminating Easter scenes reflect the paschal candle’s function during the Easter season as a symbol of Christ resurrected, as evoked in an inscription on the base. A second fragmentary inscription refers to the unidentifiable patron’s desire for commemoration. A third inscription identifies Nicolaus de Angelo as the master sculptor and Petrus Vassallettus as playing a secondary role. Both were active in the second half of the 12th to the early 13th century and came from leading families of Roman sculptors: the Vassalletti and Cosmati (Nicolaus’s family). The candlestick is the only work signed by and securely attributed to Nicolaus and the scope of his contribution remains uncertain. A plausible theory attributes the base and first register to Petrus, based upon similarities to works signed by him and ascribed to his family, such as the cloister of S Giovanni in Laterano in Rome and the narthex of S Lorenzo fuori le Mura in Rome. Nicolaus probably executed the Christological scenes, distinguishable for their more dynamic, expressive figures and decorative chisel work, and appropriate for the master sculptor because of their centrality and significance. Early Christian sarcophagi and Carolingian ivories may have provided models for the figural types. This form of paschal candlestick was probably inspired by Roman columnar monuments carved with triumphal scenes....

Article

Joshua Drapkin

(b Azay-le-Ferron, Indre, June 3, 1756; d Versailles, Nov 1, 1827).

French draughtsman, engraver, sculptor and archaeologist. He received instruction in drawing from Joseph-Marie Vien, Jean-Jacques Lagrenée and Jean-Baptiste Le Prince. In 1778 he departed for Italy, where he developed his landscape draughtsmanship and his passion for antiquity. He travelled incessantly, recording everything he saw and venturing out from Rome to Venice, Naples and Sicily. An example of the numerous drawings he produced is the Ruins of the Baths of Titus Seen from the Colosseum (Paris, Ecole N. Sup. B.-A.). In 1782 a group of amateurs, under the patronage of Emperor Joseph II, commissioned from him a series of views of the Istrian and Dalmatian coast; these were eventually published in J. Lavallée’s Voyage pittoresque et historique de l’Istrie et de la Dalmatie. After a brief spell in France, Cassas followed Marie-Gabriel, Comte de Choiseul-Gouffier, to his new ambassadorial post in Constantinople in 1784. He subsequently visited Syria, Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus and Asia Minor, recording his impressions of Alexandria, Cairo, Smyrna, the Temple of Diana (Artemis) at Ephesos and the Palmyra and Baalbek ruins. Many of the 250 drawings dating from this trip were of hitherto unrecorded sights. With Choiseul’s assistance Cassas published these works in the ...

Article

(fl 1684; d ?Persia, May 12, 1699).

French sculptor. Cavalier is thought to have been a Huguenot trained in his native France. His career is obscure until 1684, by which time he was a carver of portraits in ivory of exceptional talent and probably already settled in England. In that year he made the relief of Charles II on Horseback, signed on the verso ‘i. cavalier. f. 1684’ (h. 150 mm; Leeds, C.A.G.). This is a magnificent and unusually ambitious work incorporating on the verso a delicately chiselled tree and flower as a test of the suitability of the material. The relief itself shows the King dressed in Classical armour and cloak, holding a baton in his outstretched hand, riding a noble horse caparisoned with an elaborately embroidered saddle-cloth in a landscape of rolling, grassy hills strewn with flowers. The curving grain of the ivory is used convincingly to suggest the glossy sweat of the beast’s hind quarters. The rather dry, linear treatment of this relief, which it shares with Cavalier’s other carvings of the same period, gave way to softer, more fluid modelling and an even more exquisite rendering of detail in such works as the portrait of ...