A few weeks ago, I was staring at (in my opinion) one of the most beautiful statues in the world, Michelangelo's "David". The piece is absolutely astonishing. At the Galleria dell' Accademia in Florence, there are several other statues by other artists and I could not help but compare them to David. The difference is astonishing. The other pieces I saw were beautiful and skillfully worked, but in no way could be compared to David. Other pieces had arms but David had blood vessels and sinews. David is nearly alive. The skill to create such a masterpiece is mind boggling. That much is patently obvious.
As opposed to the "victory pose" over the fallen giant Goliath, Michelangelo's David appears to depict the youth just moment after he has made the decision to fight giant but before the battle has actually taken place, a moment between conscious choice and action. His brow is drawn, his neck tense and the veins bulge out of his lowered right hand. His left hand holds a sling that is draped over his shoulder and down to his right hand, which holds a rock. The twist of his body effectively conveys to the viewer the feeling that he is in motion, an impression heightened with contrapposto (an asymmetrical arrangement of the human figure in which the line of the arms and shoulders contrasts with while balancing those of the hips and legs). There is your art history "lesson of the day". This classic pose causes the figure’s hips and shoulders to rest at opposing angles, giving a slight s-curve to the entire torso. The contrapposto is emphasized by the turn of the head to the left, and by the contrasting positions of the arms.
Compare and think...
So that was then, this is now. Times change I guess. See, when I got back home to the States, I saw a poster of a statue Picasso had created and I could not help but compare it to David, just as I compared the other statues I saw in Florence. So here's a good little exercise for you: Compare and think. What are you thinking? (I'd really like to know.)
Pablo Picasso's "Petite fille sautant a la corde"
Here is what High Five magazine says about Picasso's sculpture:
"Pablo Picasso's work remains astonishing. It is not limited to painting. The incursions of the Spanish master, especially in sculpture, produced admirable results."
"Before 1950, when the "Petite fille sautant à la corde" (or "Little Girl jumping rope) was completed, the practice of sculpture in Picasso seems episodic, according to the pictorial reinvention that crosses his work. Having no training in construction, unlike a classical training in painting, the sculpture remains for Picasso a hobby (if I may say), as a fun place to express his free creativity."
"Although Picasso prefers to use his brushes, he remains an inventive sculptor, motivated by the desire for experimentation. Picasso is a man constantly torn by the need to rebuild. He is reappropriating formal objects, technical innovations and artistic breaks to give his work a new impetus."