Sunday, February 17, 2013

Carrara Marble Pietrasanta Sculpture


Cari Amici (Dear Friends),

Well, what a surprise to learn that this is my 600th blog post! Who knew that I had it in me? So, I am happy that what I wanted to write about was my recent trip to Carrara and Pietrasanta, Italy. Marble is my drug of choice and I miss carving it very much. However, like my dream to have a dog, some things will have to wait until their time comes again.

My friend and fellow sculptor Gilbert Barrera came to Italy from San Antonio, Texas. We met each other MANY years ago when he came to Austin, specifically the Elisabet Ney Sculpture Conservatory, and met our group up there. Like me, Gilbert came to Italy to improve his art skills. This first image is of the two of us standing next to his current project in Carrara, Italy. He wants to carve this marble all with hand tools… good enough for Michelangelo, afterall. I am too impatient for that sort of thing, but respect that we all have different goals in life. At least Gilbert is doing SOMETHING with stone now!

We then headed to Pietrasanta for some lunch and sculpture viewing. “Convenient” is rarely a word one thinks of when Italia comes to mind. With the poorly timed train schedules to these industrial towns, one usually finds oneself here during the long lunch hour and things are mostly closed. However, il Museo dei Bozzetti was open. Housed inside of the library, the museum is where they keep a decent collection of plaster sculptures that were used as the models for artists to copy their works into marble. Direct carving is not as well known as in the States.

My favorite works here are those of Leone Tommasi, sculptor active around 1930s and 1940s. His realism in the human figures is like a caress in his sensitive forms. When Gilbert saw the reclining Jesus sculpture, he remarked that Tommasi understands well the form in gravity. Like Pietro Annigoni, Leoni Tommasi was creating a very different style of work from what was popular in his own time. I am glad his stuck to his guns. The next images you see here are all the works of Leone Tommasi.

After all of this, I had to show Gilbert the piece that completely surprised me during my first visit to Pietrasanta in 2004. Charles Umlauf was a sculptor who lived, worked, and taught in Austin, Texas. He even has his own museum there and the Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum is a real gem in the town! Naturally, I have spent time there and am familiar with his work. I was stunned to bump into his “Eve” so many years ago! Later, Nelie Plourde, director of the Umlauf Gardens, told me, as I related to Gilbert yesterday, that Charles Umlauf found it better and cheaper to create the art here in Pietrasanta, cast it into bronze here, and then SHIP it to the USA. Here we are posing (using my self-timer on the camera) with Umlauf’s “Eve.”

Finally, I leave you with a sculpture that amuses and charms me. It was sculpted by Giulio Ciniglia and is titled “L’ora” (The Time) from 1992. Ok, I have got to go. Just look at …

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