By Alyssa Davis
One could I be pardoned if, like Rip van Winkle waking up after a 20-year sleep, he finds himself most pleasantly surrounded by a plethora of objets dart that have mushroomed, replacing the traditional framed pictures that have always adorned walls. I Instantly, hes amazed to find them made of metal, a material normally used in construction, not in art. Hes even more delightfully surprised to find that such a material which sometimes includes parts one can only find in junk yards could be transformed into a thing of beauty and a bundle of paradoxes. I Metal, for instance, is heavy, yet here are metal sculptures ranging from delicate mobiles to gigantic stabiles that flutter or sway in the slightest wind. Its cold, yet as a metal wall sculpture or any abstract metal art, the emotions it elicits is anything other than cold. Hes also amazed to find them everywhere for instance as a 16-meter, 50-ton vermilion leviathan like Alexander Calders Flamingo which adorn the Federal Plaza in Chicago, or as an exquisitely delicate and life-like praying mantis adorning a lighted corner. From indoor metal wall sculptures decorating walls, to gigantic stabiles jazzing up public sites, metal art is here. Here are some facts would-be metal art aficionados might want to know.
Some metal sculptures are made by casting, sometimes called lost-wax casting. One of the most famous in this type is Benvenuto Cellinis Perseus with the Head of Medusa statue in bronze with its startling detail and immense grace. I Here, the artist pours molten metalwhich can be aluminum, steel, bronze or some other alloy — into a mold, which, after some tedious process, is removed, revealing the masterpiece inside. Then the masterpiece is cleaned up, and, often, a patina is added. I Casting dates back 6,000 years, its oldest surviving example being a copper frog from 3,200 B.C.
Here, the artist welds metal pieces together, which, often in combination with lighting accent results in a breathtakingly beautiful piece of art possessing the power to transform any drab corner into an electrifying area of glam and even chutzpah. These art pieces endow the lucky owner instant pizzazz, marking them off as possessing style and grace. I
Patinated copper abstract contemporary wall art is an example. I Other examples could be abstract brass or steel sculptures given a torch coloring or transparent tint finish. I All share the same characteristics: I handcrafted, hand-painted, and unique. I There are small ones and big ones. I Some are intended for outdoors, others for indoors. I Each artist has its own style, and some have even gone so far as to specialize in one specific category, honing their skills to perfection. I Theres one artist, for instance, who specializes in animals and insects, and whose frogs and I praying mantises are incredibly life-like and look like they couldnt possibly be made of metal. Theres practically everything for everybody. There are human forms, animal forms, and yet still others which cant be described by any other adjective than “alien” form. I
One artist in this category which is also called “found object,” I “objet trouve,” “ready made,” or “junk art” — describes his work as “sculpture fabricated from twentieth century by-products,” which aptly describes art of this type. I Found art sculpture differs from fabricated sculpture in one significant way: I found art starts with an already finished product, e.g., a piece of copper tube, an elbow joint, a nut, a dented car fender, the base of a table lamp, and turns it into something totally different from the original. I In this sense, found art finds kinship with the green movement slogan: I re-use, re purpose, recycle.
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