WEIGHTY MATTERS

October 21, 2013 by uvmeditor

Did Italian sculptors of the Renaissance and Baroque eras alter their styles depending on whether a work was bound for just down the road in Florence or going across the Mediterranean to Spain? Did Michelangelo ever really believe that his David would be hoisted to a perch high on Florence’s cathedral?

The answer to the first question is yes. The local sculptures exhibited a delicacy and grace that was compromised when the artist knew his commission (often a gift to curry favor with a foreign power) would be crated, hoisted, and shipped out from the docks in Genoa. As for Michelangelo and the legendary David, most likely the artist never thought his work would or could be lifted to a fairly ridiculous location on il Duomo. As William Wallace, professor of art history at Washington University, put it: “There is no avoiding the tyranny of weight.”

“Italian Renaissance & Baroque Sculpture: Material, Manufacture, Meaning and Movement” was the title of an unusual day-long symposium held in Billings Library on Friday. Kelley Helmstutler Di Dio, associate professor of art history, was the driving force behind the event that brought experts together for what she called “a scholarly exchange about practical issues.”

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While most of the day belonged to Italy, the Renaissance, and scholars, late in the afternoon sculptor and UVM alumnus Richard Erdman ’75 brought the perspective of a contemporary artist who has grappled on a very serious level with Italian marble and that unavoidable tyranny of weight. Erdman’s workPassage, a commission for the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo in Purchase, New York, is the largest sculpture in the world made from a single piece of Travertine marble. Through a slideshow, Erdman told the story of how the stone was quarried in Tivoli, a 30-foot block weighing 450 tons, slimmed to 120 tons for a very slow four-day drive by truck to his studio in Italy, and finally, at a mere 45 tons, shipped to the United States then driven north through the streets of New York City in the wee-small hours.

A native of Vermont’s Rutland-area marble belt, working with stone is a lifelong passion for Erdman. “It’s the most life affirming of all materials,” he told the scholars and guests gathered at UVM last Friday, “250 centuries of living geology.”

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Check out the current issue of Art in America for images and information regarding Fiora, recently installed at the Enea Tree Museum in Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland. 

Check out the current issue of Art in America for images and information regarding Fiora, recently installed at the Enea Tree Museum in Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland. 

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Remembering the exhibition ‘Richard Erdman: Three Decades of Sculpture’ at #MadisonGallery in La Jolla, California.

Remembering the exhibition ‘Richard Erdman: Three Decades of Sculpture’ at #MadisonGallery in La Jolla, California.

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Cascata: A Richard Erdman Sculpture from Richard Erdman on Vimeo.

See the making of Richard Erdman’s monumental work entitled Cascata

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Featured in West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park’s Spotlights: 
There are certain groups whose mutual exclusivity we, as a culture, commonly reference: there are those who look at the glass half full or half empty; cat people, dog people; field players, goalies; and the list goes on. While sculptors are artists, and artists can be sculptors, the divide between 2-dimensional art and the 3-dimensional form leaves sculptors out-numbered and on one side of a binary divide.
While it is difficult to generalize the tie that binds sculptors as a group, when Richard Erdman recently spoke at West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park to reflect on the method and medium that has guided his work for nearly 40 years, one can’t help to think that others of his ilk share the same inspiration.
“I want my work to reflect the senses that we experience and I have always found that the more sensations that are being activated, the more lively experience you are having…you are engaging your senses so much deeper, and I find that to be the spiritual part of life and why I do 3 dimensional sculpture”, explained Erdman. And there is no better example of this spiritual engagement but at the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo in Purchase, New York, where Passage, the largest sculpture in the world carved from a single block of marble, enlivens the senses and piques our interest in the sculpture and the sculptor himself.
The nine-minute documentary, Richard Erdman: A Profile, captures the spirit of Erdman’s work and his creative process from conception to fruition, leaving the viewer wondering if sculptors are in fact a breed of their own.
VIEW ERDMAN’S WORK
CONTACT WEST BRANCH

Featured in West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park’s Spotlights

There are certain groups whose mutual exclusivity we, as a culture, commonly reference: there are those who look at the glass half full or half empty; cat people, dog people; field players, goalies; and the list goes on. While sculptors are artists, and artists can be sculptors, the divide between 2-dimensional art and the 3-dimensional form leaves sculptors out-numbered and on one side of a binary divide.

While it is difficult to generalize the tie that binds sculptors as a group, when Richard Erdman recently spoke at West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park to reflect on the method and medium that has guided his work for nearly 40 years, one can’t help to think that others of his ilk share the same inspiration.

“I want my work to reflect the senses that we experience and I have always found that the more sensations that are being activated, the more lively experience you are having…you are engaging your senses so much deeper, and I find that to be the spiritual part of life and why I do 3 dimensional sculpture”, explained Erdman. And there is no better example of this spiritual engagement but at the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens at PepsiCo in Purchase, New York, where Passage, the largest sculpture in the world carved from a single block of marble, enlivens the senses and piques our interest in the sculpture and the sculptor himself.

The nine-minute documentary, Richard Erdman: A Profile, captures the spirit of Erdman’s work and his creative process from conception to fruition, leaving the viewer wondering if sculptors are in fact a breed of their own.

VIEW ERDMAN’S WORK

CONTACT WEST BRANCH

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Chris Villano preparing a crate for shipment to #SculpturesiteGallery in Sonoma, California.

Chris Villano preparing a crate for shipment to #SculpturesiteGallery in Sonoma, California.

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galerie artziwna has works in both stone and bronze on view in Vienna, Austria.  Please visit the gallery’s website for additional information. 
Richard Erdman: A Profile can be viewed here. 

galerie artziwna has works in both stone and bronze on view in Vienna, Austria.  Please visit the gallery’s website for additional information. 

Richard Erdman: A Profile can be viewed here

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Plaster Station Two #richarderdmansculpture

Plaster Station Two #richarderdmansculpture

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Plaster Station #richarderdmansculpture

Plaster Station #richarderdmansculpture

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Plaster Station #richarderdmansculpture

Plaster Station #richarderdmansculpture

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Hand Tools                                        #richarderdmansculpture

Hand Tools #richarderdmansculpture

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Richard’s Plaster Station  #RichardErdmanSculpture

Richard’s Plaster Station #RichardErdmanSculpture

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#RichardErdman in the studio with ‘Volantino’                 #carraramarble #sculpture

#RichardErdman in the studio with ‘Volantino’ #carraramarble #sculpture

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A photo from the Q&A that followed a screening of ‘Richard Edman: A Profile' at West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park last Friday, July 11th. A special thanks to the gallery for organizing and hosting the event!

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Astri with Collector and Artist
Carrara Marble 
74” H
Private Collection, Hillsborough, CA 

Astri with Collector and Artist

Carrara Marble 

74” H

Private Collection, Hillsborough, CA 

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