Spain • 1904−1989

Врубель, Фукс, Дали, Паркес, Куш - пятерка художников в поисках объема: фантастические скульптуры работы живописцев.

Когда художники стремятся придать объем своим образам на полотнах, они либо осваивают гиперреализм, либо становятся еще и скульпторами. Но их второй дар нередко остается в тени: если Дали, бесспорно, известен «в 3D» своими расплавленными часами и тонконогими слонами, то «Врубель-скульптор» звучит непривычно. А с творчеством Майкла Паркеса и Владимира Куша и вовсе стоит познакомиться в самом полном объеме – сегодня они предстанут как скульпторы.

Vrubel: living plastic in glaze

Meet the Spring by Vrubel, and others. Savva Mamontov opened a pottery workshop in Russian Abramtsevo in 1889, and many artists of the Abramtsevo club began their experiments. It was Mikhail Vrubel who raised “applied crafts” to the rank of high art — he created ceramic sculptures, majolica (fired clay with glaze). Canvas contains strokes, but sculpture comprises layers to create plastic and volume. And the famous Vrubel’s shimmer and shine seem to have been created for this sculptural technique. Moreover, Vrubel also thought about the new area of creativity for a long time!
“I definitely began to notice that my passion to recreate the form as close as possible interfered with my painting; I decided to step aside and sculpt the Demon: the sculpture can help painting, because I will use it as an ideal nature, having illuminated it as the painting requests” — Mikhail Vrubel, 1888

Egyptian motives, mystical fantasies and Russian fairy-tale images — all of them became myths and legends of Vrubel himself. After all, he sought the same (and even greater!) expressiveness of his characters as in his paintings. The international public appreciated it: in 1900, at the World Exhibition, Mamontov was given a gold medal as an “exhibitor” of majolica, and, in fact, Vrubel the artist also received a gold medal for his work.

Ernst Fuchs: turn towards the forest...

The Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs (1930—2015) was Dalí’s companion in surrealism, and at the same time, the author of his own concept of fantastic realism. Doubtlessly, he could not pass by the volumetric forms.

“Dürer, Michelangelo’s frescoes, the art of Leonardo da Vinci were my inspiration. In sculpture, I studied from the artists of antiquity, starting with Phidias, then I learned a lot from the German Expressionists. But when I saw reproductions of the works by Salvador Dalí and Marx Ernst, I realized: this is my area of interest,” says Fuchs. Like Dalí, he had been creating sculptures since the 1970s.

Salvador Dalí pointing to details of the sculpture by Ernst Fuchs in the courtyard of the theatre-museum in Figueres

By the way, Fuchs got into our TOP-5 not only because of his fame and genius, but also because of his... followers. All the work of Niki de Saint Phalle seems to have grown from Fuchs’ sculpture, The Big Esther (1972), which flaunts at the entrance of the Otto Wagner-Villa (now the Ernst Fuchs-Museum) in Vienna.
Needless to say about the work of Giger — his most famous monster sculptures are not far from the shocking sculpture of Fuchs.
However, Fuchs describes the appearance of the Sphinx sculpture very poetically: “I dreamed of a nymph once while in a porcelain bathtub, huge and elongated, like a bowl for rinsing hands served in Parisian restaurants. The word was bright, round, beautiful, carved and polished, as if it had emerged from a shell. Her bright hair was the colour of a barely ripe orange, and her eyes shone like emeralds” — quite an exact description!

…Fuchs replicates his sculptures, therefore you can buy yourself a copy of some strange lady from the world of hard erotic fantasies of the Austrian hippie dreamer for several thousand dollars.

Dalí the Sculptor: a story of multiple replications!

If you want to poke fun at an art dealer, expert or art critic with one sentence, just say: “authentic sculptures by Salvador Dalí”. That’ll be enough! You will initiate a long dispute with lots of versions with legal subtleties. The fact is that Dalí did not cast sculptures himself at all: there is information that in 1969—1972 he made surrealistic images in... wax. In his home in Portlligat (according to the notes of Dalí’s biographer, Robert Descharnes), the artist went out to his pool sometimes and devoted several hours to modelling. Then goes the old as the hills story about Dalí’s thirst for money and unscrupulousness in his funds: first, in 1973, Dalí entered into an agreement with the Spanish collector Isidro Clot, who bought wax figures, and made four series of bronze castings. Actually, these are the “most authentic sculptures by Dalí”. The collector kept the first series for himself, the rest travelled the world, multiplying along the way. In his old age, Dalí sold the rights to reproduce his sculptures, they were cast many times, sometimes enlarged, and that is why sometimes a “Dalí sculpture” appears on the market at a relatively affordable price. Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions refused to accept Dalí’s sculptures for sale for two years. Needless to say about exhibitions of sculptures by Dalí — the images are genuine of course, but all of these are copies of copies. That is what the robbers miscalculated in 2013: they probably planned to bail out millions for the work stolen from the Paris exhibition, the famous “melting clock”!
Such object as Venus de Milo with Drawers (1936) can be considered more or less original; the artist Marcel Duchamp made its casting at the request of Dalí. Plaster Venus is real. But her twin sisters of the same form were replicated.
The Retrospective Bust of a Woman created by Salvador Dalí in 1933 for the Surrealist exhibition at the Pierre Colle Gallery (Paris) is also original. A loaf of bread (a hat — Surrealism!) and a bronze inkwell are hoisted on the porcelain bust of a woman — an image of Jean-François Millet’s Angelus painting. Plus ants on the face, the paper “scarf”, ears of corn on the shoulders. Just a parody of fashion! The original of which was spoiled... by the dog of Picasso. The exhibition was visited by the artist with his pet, and the dog ate the loaf! The whole idea was wasted... Now a “reconstruction” of the work, but with a “fake” loaf, is kept in the Salvador Dalí’s Theatre-Museum in Figueres.

Michael Parkes: the winged marble

American artist Michael Parkes (b. 1944) is a very famous artist. Travelling from his young age to Europe and Asia, he settled in Spain and now shows the world exciting, spiritualized paintings with enviable productivity: a little mysticism, surrealism, a portion of eroticism, and pure beauty! He is inspired by the art of Ancient Greece, the artists of the Renaissance, the great Italians, Oriental philosophy. Parkes is also a connoisseur of classical music. A lot of his works “quote” suites and symphonies!
Although his exhibitions are not held in the Metropolitan or other modern eminent museums of the world, but galleries consider a great honour to get an exhibition and “official representation” of his works as a distributor. And a good profit: the artist’s works are sold in a moment — visit his official website and watch for an unsold painting or drawing! Author’s graphics, prints, posters... And since some (not so long ago) time – sculptures as well.
“The need to create sculpture has always been somewhere within me. I thought for many years before I decided to try — can I really create something in a new area? Thus, on my 50th birthday, I went to Italy, to Florence, to make my first models. I knew that birthdays promise something new, but I had no idea what a wonderful door I would open! At first, I made 1 or 2 sculptures a year — I had other activities, mainly paintings and engravings. But soon sculptures carried me away! It became obvious that all those women and other creatures that I created on my canvases were just waiting to appear in three dimensions. Today, most of my creative energy is directed towards sculpture!” — Michael Parkes.

The artist chose bronze; sometimes he tones his sculptures in usual colours, “like a painting”. He has already published two catalogues of his works — of course, he follows the impressive army of captivating originals.

At the same time, Michael Parkes announced the “drawing year” on his personal website. So now paintings continue to appear on his official website equally as often as sculptures.

Vladimir Kush and heavenly apples

Vladimir Kush (b. 1965), a guru of his own “magic realism” is a former Muscovite who emigrated to America in the post-perestroika period, in 1990s, and went through all the difficult stages of his long journey there. Well, the way from a street artist to the owner of several own galleries — this is just a common reality of a true Metaphorical Journey
Traveller meets many hybrids of things and creatures there, and, fortunately, they’re not repulsive, as is often the case with the surrealists. There are also disturbing notes, joyful, inspiring images before you, and there is always something to think about. “To help the viewer” and to invite for a dialogue, Vladimir Kush accompanies his paintings with quotes of great people, shares his own notes about what caused the appearance of a certain layer of his new reality. For example, this African Sonata
Well, the public of the whole world recognizes his “signature” objects immediately: the butterfly apple, the purse pair, the dancer scissors, the whirling ballerina, the trumpet elephants, the shell castle, the live book, the face flowers, the rose lady... It is not surprising that they all began to migrate to the 3D world over time! Now these are precious things as well, in the literal sense: sculptures are silver, gold, garnets... And the traditional bronze, of course.
But the artist goes further, and deliberately creates initially sculptural images: such are the knight beetles, recently presented by the artist at a special exhibition event in his gallery. Also, the public was presented with a new painting by Vladimir Kush, inspired by our catchphrase “can’t see the wood for the trees” — he cites it as an explanation. Shall we see it? It’s worth a try!