I receive the artsjournal.com e-newsletter each week, which consists of links to various news articles of interest to . . . well, anyone who enjoys processes and creative endeavors. I have been casually following news about art restoration, specifically current discussions on the cleaning of Michelangelo's David in marble. I am glad to see so much thought being put into such a topic and that the artist's intent is a key factor in the debate.
In one article, someone commented that most artists expect their art to age and have experiences in much the same way that people do, changing accordingly. It was stated so matter-of-factly that I instantly began to wonder, "Is this really true?"
In my case, I specifically created one work with the idea that it would change over time. I was inspired by a painting I saw at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Artists often reuse "failed" art works in generating a more successful piece and this collected painting was one of those. (Oh, I apologize for not remembering its title or author.) The image is of a man writing at a desk. However, in the solid space of the desk, an upside down face can be seen. It is not a reflection, but the ghost of the previous painting (turned 180 degrees) coming through. You see, oil paints get transparent over time and can reveal the history of the canvas as they do so.
I found this intriguing and set out to make a painting that would purposely show "pentimento," which is the Italian word for repentance. It is sometimes loosely translated to refer to mistakes of the past coming back to haunt you. My artwork is titled, The Dream and the "before" and "after" may be seen online at:
Conservation and Collecting:
The Dream Painting
But back to the original question . . . I first heard of this argument of artist's intention when I ran across discussions of whether or not to restore the Sistine Chapel to its original colorful glory. So did Michelangelo know that his work would age and darken? If so, was he OK with that? Would he have been accepting of other people coming in and touching or retouching his work? Or would he have felt satisfied that his work was considered wonderful enough to warrant all of this conservation talk? Is it reasonable to expect an artist to create a work of art that is guaranteed to survive in its original condition for over 500 years?
But artists do make choices on the materials and methods they use. They do study chemistry to the extent of doing the best they can to insure their paintings do not "flake off" or crack. Or they use this chemistry to achieve these effects - it is all individual aesthetics. Some artists purposely choose short-lived materials to make the statement they want to make.
For me, I have always been enchanted with the cyclical nature of time, like a sine wave. I get very excited when I hear that an archeological team is digging up lost bronze and stone sculptures and ceramic art. I love the stories of a very old painting being rediscovered in someone's attic or basement. The story is only a story because the beauty in the art has withstood the test of time (and sometimes abuse or neglect).
Many of my collectors have told me that they want to pass my artworks down through the generations of their families - that they want their grandchildren to know another side to their grandparent. Art is a way to share our stories and personalities with future peoples, while giving meaning and enjoyment to our lives now. It is important to me to take those benefits into serious consideration.
So when I create, I choose to use materials of quality. I may use wax or clay or plaster to create an image, but I will only sell work in more permanent materials, such as bronze and stone. I am happy to answer questions from collectors about the materials I use and even how to best care for artworks I have created. After all, art is our shared passion.
(Above the dreamer, there is a face hidden under
the background painted with a dark transparent glaze.)
I have spoken of my desire to go to Italy for so long now that some people have asked me if I have gone and come back already. I shyly admit, "Not yet; just my art is there." But now I am happy to report that I have bought a plane ticket and the trip will happen this year one way or another! I know that my first time in Italy will be a dream come true and will have a marvelous impact on my own art.
There is a common saying that goes, "You always remember your first time." In my case, I may not remember all of the details, but I certainly remember the significant ones and the emotions I felt at the time. For instance, I remember my amazement and pure delight my first time in a photography darkroom as I watched an image appear within seconds on a seemingly blank piece of paper as it lay submerged in the developer solution.
I later dreamed of becoming an underwater photographer. My first time wearing full scuba gear, sitting underwater on the bottom of the shallow end of the pool and BREATHING almost took my breath away and I again pondered the miracle of science. And my first life drawing session was no less magical. I thought our model Robbie was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. She was a round, full-bodied female unlike anything I had ever considered beautiful in the culture I grew up with.
Such memorable occasions shape our lives by altering our thinking. My 3-hour drawing session with Robbie and many models since has changed my perception of beauty. Although I am not fond of obesity, I do love the voluptuousness of a healthy figure.
So I am thrilled to introduce to you a wonderfully curvaceous new sculpture entitled Gemini. This bronze is an expansion of the idea created when carving the stone original Gemini last year. The bronze will be about 40 inches tall and is my first garden-sized work. It is designed to lead your eye around the sculpture as you discover the two faces in the figure.
You may view the sculpture in clay online at: Gemini bronze
I recently proofed the waxes at the foundry and she will be ready in the spring. This bronze sculpture is priced well at $12,500. However, for a limited time I am sharing with you a special pre-casting offer. And to help you help me get to Italy, I am offering a larger savings than usual (over 20% off) if you act before April 5, 2004. Commit now and add this beautiful figure to your collection for a mere $9,600 (plus shipping & handling)!
Naturally some conditions apply - namely that a 50% deposit ($4,800) is required to hold your sculpture, with the balance due after the bronze is finished and ready for delivery. I will send you an image of your completed bronze and you would then send your approval and the balance due. If for any reason you change your mind, then your deposit will be cheerfully refunded or applied towards another artwork - your choice.
Two New Works & Italy:
The second new artwork I want to present to you is also a large work in bronze. The relief sculpture is titled Shield and is an enlarged version of the wall-hanging Chest Piece. While at the foundry the other day proofing the waxes, I was complimented by the foundrymen. They told me, "It is unusual when a new sculpture comes in that everyone of us here really loves it, but this one got us all." I must say I enjoy the presence the large size has.
Click here to see am image of me holding up the clay original of Shield so that you can get a better idea of its larger-than-life size. Shield will be priced the same as the
other large relief Ten that I debuted last fall - at an affordable $6,600, but again I will offer a pre-casting savings if you place your order (with half down as a deposit) by April 5th. So for the next month and a half, the bronze Shield will be priced at $5,200.
If you enjoy Borsheim Art News, please forward it to friends and colleagues. It comes to you about 6 times a year from Cedar Creek, Texas-based artist Kelly Borsheim, sculptor and painter of marine life and the art of the human form.
Thank you for reading,
18 February 2004
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