A member of my email list recently asked:
In rereading The Fountainhead I was reminded of something I’ve long wondered about, in the story of Steven Mallory’s sculpture using Dominique as a model: why would an artist of Mallory’s stature need a model? If it isn’t a specific portrait, wouldn’t his ability and imagination be sufficient to invent (and retain in his mind) a figure projecting a more ideal image than any actual woman he’d be likely to find? … I’d love to hear a professional’s response to this.
Having a model pose allows the artist to go outside himself for information to a knowledgeable source. Reading the model is like reading a primary source book.
If a sculptor is creating a figure sculpture, it generally means that he has studied the figure model while in art school, studying with a Master or working in an atelier. If he does not have a model pose for his work, he is relying on whatever memory he has of the limited time he spent studying the model in addition to the incomplete knowledge that he has of the figure.
For that reason, when artists like myself have a commission or begin a sculpture that involves the figure, we want to have a live model pose.
If an artist is just looking into his mind for what he remembers about the figure and he does that often, his ideas of the model become inbred. As with human beings, the worst parts of their DNA in terms of distortion and exaggeration multiply and reveal themselves, such as the Hapsburg jaw. An artist needs the unpredictable real world to merge with his own ideas. When that happens, the artist sees things in a world full of surprises that he did not even know existed. This occurs when an artist is reading the figure from a live model, strengthening the resulting work.
- See more of Zenos Frudakis’s work here.
- The first post in this series (Michael Wilkinson’s answer) is here. I’m posting these in the order I received the answers: Zenos hadn’t seen Michael’s answer when he wrote to me.
- To be notified of future posts in this series, join the DianneDuranteWriter/ForgottenDelights mailing list: email DuranteDianne@gmail.com.