Friday, September 12, 2008

Madonna e Bambino: A Last Look

For the last few months I have been using my spare moments to work on this small Madonna and Child statue (spare moments, by the way, are like all those little fractions of pennies from Superman III. If you add them all together they're worth BILLIONS).

For a model, I began by using a picture of an obscure 1930s forgery -a wooden statue that was made to look as if it had come from the 1500s. If you think you've seen "distressed," think again. After getting a general pose I sort of took off on my own into the unknown.

The statue is made of plasticine clay, which is a marvelous kind of non-drying clay. It's very handy if you plan to work on something over a long period of time. It reacts to heat rather than moisture, which I also like. And I have nostalgic memories of the smell from working with Mr. Armstrong.

Now I had planned to have this cast in bronze if it turned out well, so earlier this week I dropped it off at a foundry outside of Florence. And by "dropped it off" I mean I carried the soft clay statue, on a hot day, in my hands, on a 4 hour car/train/bus ride that finally made me understand what poor Mrs. Bennet was talking about when she says "my nerves! My poor nerves!" The pictures above were taken just before I left the foundry. My last look at the statue.

Sadly, in the end there was simply not enough time to have the bronzes made (the process would have included several more trips to Florence). But I did purchase the mold so that I can have them made in the future. Someday!


WondrousPilgrim said...

well, when you're ready, let me know. i love it. :)

Anonymous said...

I love it so much.

anna said...

che bella! bravo Ben

Ben Hatke said...

Grazie Anna! Pou fare me manda un email, per favore. Ho perso tuo indirizzio quando ho morto il mio computer vechio.

j'aime said...

que belle! tres bien.

Ben Hatke said...

Doesn't anyone post in Spanish?

Anonymous said...

Ben, are you guys aware of this:

And if so, what are you going to do about it? It seems like such an awesome opportunity for an artist and a Catholic one, at that.

--Laura La Bibliotecaria

Ben Hatke said...

Oooh, now you've got my ire up, Laura.

From what I can tell from the article, I am most definitely NOT the type of artist that "the Vatican" is looking for.

They are looking for someone who, like, makes a white cube with a feather sticking out one end and gives it an esoteric name, like "the dilemma." (instead of a perfectly sensible name like "cube with feather sticking out one end").

The article also mentions that the church's influence on art declined because it continued to rely on figurative work!?!? This is absolutely backwards. In fact, ART declined because it stopped relying on figurative work.

No, I'm afraid there's nothing I can do about this that doesn't involve vandalism. And since any act of vandalism might easily be mistaken for a work of art and placed in a church somewhere, I better just stay home.

Ben Hatke said...

They want this guy:

Anish Kapoor

Bridget said...

Hola, Ben! Como estas? La Virgen y el nino es muy bonito! Cuando vuelves a los estados unidos, es muy importante que tienes pantalones azules. Los pantalones azules estan lo mejor en ropa estos dias! Y tambien, es muy importante que tu esposa trae sus ninos a los estados unidos. Los ninos tiene que practicar engles porque, en los estados unidos, la gente habla solamente en engles!

Anonymous said...

Ah, see I guess my idealism kind of glossed over all of that, and I am hoping that it would be an opportunity for good Catholic art--that the goodness and Catholicism of the art would trump any movement.

I don't think it has to be that way--it could be something like Hunderwasser's work, no?

And if you can create stuff like your little Madonna and Child, conceptual art should be easy-- ;)


Ben Hatke said...

Aaaaaahhh, you're probably right. I shouldn't be a curmudgeon.

And I have to admit, that Hunderwasser's not so bad. I am trying SO HARD not to be a cynical curmudgeon.

But I just can't see how I can compete with (literal example from the article) a stained glass window made from 11,200 colored squares in a pattern randomly created by a computer.

...did the article say where to send ideas?

Anonymous said...

I don't know where to submit stuff. Does the Vatican have an office of The Art? I can do some seeking and see what I come up with.

Oh, and the article is pretty silly, but the idea it is conveying is good. The article (like most) was written with that "oh, look at that wacky Pope! He is up to something now" tone. Forget that, but let's run with the idea.

And there are some lovely Catholic Contemporary arts out there; they just built a really neat Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, CA, which is really lovely... but that is another rant. It doesn't have to be an embalmed zebra.

I'll see what I can find out.

Pace, Laura

Anonymous said...

okay, so the "Pontifical Council for Culture" is setting up a committee... this is the stuff agents are for... so call one if you've got one.

Or maybe it would be cool to just walk to the Holy See, living only on the Eucharist, and with rope sandals or barefoot, and some really scratchy wool... and like, be the art. How 'new genera' is that? *That* could be your piece.

Cheekiness aside, I think it might be good to have a representative put your stuff together and submit it...

Eric Orchard said...

Great piece Ben! Love to visit the Vatican and see your stuff there.

El gaucho said...

great work! maybe you will applied some color on it?

Ben Hatke said...

Woah, thanks El Guacho!

No color on this piece, though. Unless you count the "patina" which will be applied to the bronze. And there is a surprising variety of possibilities there.

Sarah said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Richard Aleman said...

Ben, let me know when you make this available. I love it!!!

Relyn said...

Just beautiful.