Frieze reflects the tendency to think big

While some have turned to painting and design to brighten up their homes during the pandemic, others have turned to large-scale and materially ambitious sculptures to adorn their gardens. “There has been a massive exodus from London, and wealthy people have settled in the Cotswolds or similar places where they have gardens or larger spaces, and are looking for sculptures to fill them,” says George Mingozzi- Marsh, who launched Contemporary Sculpture Fulmer in 2017.

The dealer claims that 80% of the people who came to his sculpture park last year were first-time visitors, as the art-loving public sought new ways to see art in person as museums and museums closed. galleries. And, with more free time to consider larger purchases, collectors are buying too. “A lot of the clients we rely on year after year have gotten very quiet, but then we had a wave of new people,” Mingozzi-Marsh said. “The past six months have been the best six months of activity we’ve had.”

Despite the difficulties in producing and installing large sculptures, made worse by the lockdown, the trade in larger works is booming, and it is no longer just companies that commission and collect.

As part of his inaugural exhibition at Hauser & Wirth Somerset, British artist Thomas J. Price unveiled his largest sculpture to date on October 2 (prices for larger-scale works range from £ 150,000 to £ 450,000 £) and, at Oxford last month, Michael Craig-Martin presented the tallest, heaviest and ‘most daring’ work he has ever produced, thanks to support from the Blavatnik School of Government of the United Kingdom. ‘University of Oxford. At the new Munch Museum in Oslo, the 9m high bronze sculpture by Tracey Emin, The mother, to be installed by the end of the year, while American mega-merchant Larry Gagosian is due to inaugurate his third Parisian gallery on October 19 with a huge Alexander Calder sheet metal work on Place Vendôme, which was presented for last marketed in 2006 when it was sold at Sotheby’s in New York for $ 5.6 million.

Serena Cattaneo Adorno, director of Gagosian Paris, notes a growing interest in monumental sculpture. “Not everyone can welcome it, but there are new foundations, as well as private and public museums opening all over the world,” she notes. (Those in China and the Middle East are becoming particularly active.) “Contemporary artists are also working on increasingly large scales, using larger studios.” The gallery’s commitment to large-scale sculpture was reinforced by a monumental new steel work by Richard Serra, measuring 4m high, 17.7m wide and 18.2m long, which was unveiled at Le Bourget in Gagosian on September 18.

Calder and Serra are two of the biggest names in the business, but that too is expanding. This year, Frieze Sculpture (until October 31) is more diverse than ever, with more than a third of works by women. “Women absolutely enter this space,” says Clare Lilley, program director at Yorkshire Sculpture Park and curator of Frieze Sculpture. “The point is, it’s logistically very difficult to sculpt of any scale – you need people around you who are cheering you on. If you are self-financing then you either need to know that you have a market for the work or you have some other form of support and for most artists that comes from their galleries.

Puerto Rican-Canadian artist Gisela Colón, who began doing oversized sculpture about six years ago, says a “lack of resources, production funding and representation from major galleries” has historically limited women to “works on a smaller scale, ephemeral or multi-faceted”. work. ”She adds,“ Psychologically, the invisibility of women creating monumental sculptures has permeated the psyches of many female artists, leading them to believe that this is not possible or that it is not their domain. is almost like we’ve been told to “stay in your lane” and make art that behaves like a woman does.

At Frieze Sculpture, Colón exhibits Quantum Shift (Sirius Titanium Parabolic Monolith) (2021), an elegant phallic-looking object created from carbon fiber developed for advanced aerospace technology. The work took 18 months to produce and involved a large team of manufacturers.

Linked to the Californian Light and Space movement as well as to land artists of the 1960s and 1970s, Colón considers his role as “disruptive and challenger to the canon of the past where, traditionally, men created aggressive gestures, sometimes destructive towards the Earth”. . By appropriating forms traditionally “associated with men” such as the phallus, bullets, missiles and rockets, and making them ambiguous objects, Colón says that she “subverts a complex framework of deeply rooted cultural semiotics. “.

Other stars of this year’s Frieze Sculpture include Vanessa da Silva The Muamba Grove (2019), which the Brazilian artist was commissioned to create for the sculpture park of Galeria Duarte Sequeira in Porto, Portugal, and for Annie Morris Stack 9 Ultramarine blue (2021), a tower of patinated bronze spheres stretching skyward, which relates to the artist’s grief over the stillbirth of her first child.

that of Annie Morris Battery 9; Ultramarine blue (2021) relates to her grief over the stillbirth of her first child. Photo: Linda Nylind; Courtesy of Linda Nylind / Frieze

As contemporary sculptors carve out larger spaces for themselves in public space, an exhibition currently on display at the Waddington Custot Gallery, do it (through November 13), examines the largely unknown story of the women who produced ambitious three-dimensional works. The exhibition includes works by Olga de Amaral, Lynda Benglis, Beverly Pepper and Maren Hassinger, who were part of a generation of pioneering female sculptors who rose to prominence in the late 1960s and early 1970s. But unlike their male counterparts who chiseled and cast works in marble, steel, and molten lead, these women worked with paper, gold leaf, and strands of rope, albeit on a large scale.

In 1993 came the monumental and materially affirmed film by Rachel Whiteread lodge, for which the artist cast in concrete a three-story Victorian house to be demolished in east London. Supported by London sponsor Artangel, the work remained in situ for 80 days before being demolished. In recent decades, as their markets provided them with greater opportunities, female artists like Carol Bove and Virginia Overton have also turned to materials traditionally seen as more “masculine” such as steel and concrete.

Regardless of their gender, few artists start their careers by producing monumental sculpture. Joan Miró didn’t start making three-dimensional works until the early 1950s, when he arrived in Mallorca and established a workshop and foundry there. As Jacob Twyford, Senior Manager at Waddington Custot, says: “It’s usually something that becomes possible as a successful career unfolds.

He adds: “In many cases, the opportunity for an artist to work on such a scale relies on the support of others: curators, museums, galleries. It’s a whole system thing; the situation is evolving and progressing gradually to open up opportunities to a greater number of artists.

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