“Singularly bold, somewhat imperious, and active of mind.” This is how the radical philosopher William Godwin described his daughter, the Romantic novelist Mary Shelley, who achieved fame and infamy for her groundbreaking Gothic fiction Frankenstein (1818), written at the remarkable age of twenty-one. Here, the Italian neoclassicist Camillo Pistrucci uses the imposing genre of the white marble portrait bust (1843) to present Shelley in the grand manner of a virtuoso. Balancing the rhythmic forms of the face and drapery with the dazzling details of her sweeping Victorian hairstyle, Pistrucci achieves a precision and finesse that betrays the influence of his father, Benedetto Pistrucci, the unrivaled cameo carver. The artist carved the bust in Rome in the year of Shelley’s Italian sojourn.
Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851)
Photographed in the British Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
The idea for this work began when Salvador Dalí discovered an inkwell illustrated with the praying couple (from Jean-Francois Millet’s painting The Angelus, 1857–59). He embedded the inkwell in a loaf of bread and placed them both on the portrait bust of a woman.
In 1931, Dalí described Surrealist sculpture as “created wholly for the purpose of materializing in a fetishistic way, with maximum tangible reality, ideas and fantasies of a delirious character.” Retrospective Bust of a Woman (1933) not only presents a woman as an object, but explicitly as one to be consumed. A baguette crowns her head, cobs of corn dangle around her neck, and ants swarm along her forehead as if gathering crumbs. Ants, of course, are a common reoccurring motif in Dali’s work.
This little bust of a Greco-Roman soldier sporting a super fancy helmet caught my eye despite its diminutive size of maybe 2 inches in height. And as is basks in a pinkish-hued glow, it’s easy to believe that the statue is in fact pink; but it’s not. The tiny bust is white, but by shooting it with my phone from a low angle, I was able to maximize the pink reflection of the room’s walls through the glass shelf on which it sits. It’s art!
Photographed at Wonderworld Space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Concert Poster artist and collectible figure aficionado Frank Kozik has been churning out limited editions of his Mickey Mao bust, officially entitled The Bird is the Word (because “Papa Ooh Mao Mao,“ I guess?) for a decade, I think. I’ve seen them in all sizes, colors and finishes, but this one measures an imposing 30″ x 20″ x 18″ and comes in a Lime Green Sparkle Automotive finish that can be yours for just $7,500!
What’s most interesting about this Hot Pink bust of a lovely African American lady, is that it’s not in use as your standard display mannequin, despite the fact that it is clearly in the middle of a clothing section of a department store. In this instance, it is really more like a sculpture; more like a work of art meant to enhance the consumer’s shopping experience, I think. In my case, it was highly effective.
Photographed at Saks Fifth Avenue, The Gardens on El Paseo, Palm Desert, California.
Ascetic, sharp features give this bust (circa 1909) of conductor/composer Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) an aristocratic look. Mahler modeled for Rodin, though the sittings were difficult to endure for the nervous composer, who saw rest as “time wasted away from his work.” This, according to his wife, Alma Mahler.
Trivia: After Mahler’s death in 1911 (at age 5o) from a bacterial infection of the heart valve, Alma Mahler went on to be married to Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus, for five years.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art on NYC.
PK SHOP is pleased to introduce an exclusive new edition by Nir Hod. Inspired by the artist’s Genius series of paintings of precocious and portentous children, the 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inch chrome-plated sculpture is produced in editions of seven in four bold colors: gold, pink, and two additional colors that will be announced at a later date.
A meditation on beauty and loneliness, Hod’s poised and alluring young geniuses dwell in a world of paradox, where their cherubic cheeks contrast with their scornful expressions and lit cigarettes. Philosopher Roy Brand describes them as “…little demons without disguises. But they are also yearning, beautiful, and charming, and their narcissism is more a sign of internal happiness than of vanity.”
Entitled Nicolai, the series accentuates the vulnerability of these child prodigies by pairing the knowing expressions and eerie self-possession of the painted geniuses with the sculpture’s three-dimensional diminutive body. Referencing the seductiveness of luxury materials, Hod implements chrome for the first time with this series. The shiny high-polish of the chrome is transformative; the cutting edge medium transforms the traditionally-rendered sculpture into an object of the modern world. The mirrored surface of the work appeals to the viewer’s inner narcissist, while the rich colors reflect the vivid imagery of contemporary life.