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Five Modern Masters, Four of Which I’ve Been Inspired By

Lyle Sopel -

Dear Collector Friend,

In the midst of summer, there is almost no break for an artist. While I’ve recently completed a series of new work featured in the art catalogue “My Wild Earth” (thank you to all who subscribed to it), I dream of future travels to experience sculpture by some of the great modern and contemporary masters. Today I take a break from the studio to share with you a list of five public, outdoor sculptures by five masters. Maybe you are on holiday near one of these wonderful works, in which case I hope you get a chance to experience these monumental artworks. Or it can be added to your itinerary the next time you travel.

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5. Angel of the North by Antony Gormley near Gateshead in Tyne and Wear, England.
I chose this sculpture paritcularly because I love the powerful scale this image captures. Unveiled in 1998, Gormley’s “Angel of the North”  responds to the area’s three hundred years mining history and has become the region’s most iconic landmark.Marking the end of the coal mining era in Britain, the monumental angel ‘resists our post-industrial amnesia and bears witness to the hundreds and thousands of miners’ who spent centuries beneath the surface. The external skeleton rises 20 metres high (65 feet 6 inches) and mimicks the engineering of ships and bridges to withstand winds, which gives the angel a strong outer articulation that addresses volume and light. The sculpture is made of steel, weighs 200 tonnes and has 500 tonnes of concrete foundations.

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4. Figure for Landscape by Barbara Hepworth, edition of 7
Hepworth has many notable works around the world. I’ve chosen “Figure for Landscape” in particular because it’s an edition of 7 and can be viewed in real life in various locations. Working in multiple processes, Hepworth first layered plaster over a metal armature, carving into the dried plaster until she reached a final form. A mold was made of this form, which was then cast in bronze. It’s said that Hepworth preferred working outdoors to ensure that when her pieces were installed indoors they would respond to light in precisely the way she intended. This point is emphasized by her often pierced and punctured forms that create a play between positive and negative space that accentuates the sculptures relationship with the surrounding landscape. Approximately 9 feet tall, this hollowed-out bronze sculpture has a slightly foreboding quality. Hepworth’s sculpture can be seen at the Barbara Hepworth Museum, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, University of Exeter, J. Paul Getty Museum and San Diego Museum of Art.

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3. Draped, Seated Woman by Henry Moore, 6 locations
Moore’s sculptures are often abstract human forms suggesting the female body, mother-and-child and on occasion family groups. His work can be characterized by hollow spaces but I’ve chosen this sculpture because it refers to his drawings of people in draped fabric seeking shelter in the Underground tubes during the Blitz. Moore’s interest in drapery was renewed upon viewing classical sculptures during a visit to Greece. “Draped, Seated Woman” demonstrates the translation from sketch to sculpture.

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2. Little Janey Waney by Alexander Calder at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Sculpture Garden, Denmark (above) and Janey Waney at Gramercy Park, New York City (below)

Jane Holzer, an American model who became Andy Warhol’s muse, saw a maquette in Calder’s studio and suggested he make it into a large scale sculpture. The piece was then commissioned for a development project on Long Island by Holzer’s husband. When you’re in New York City, you can catch a glimpse of “Janey Waney” in Gramercy Park, a private park, open only to bordering residents, who are given keys. But the towering, colorful sculpture, is very visible to the public, who can see it clearly through the wide slatted fence that surrounds the park. “Little Janey Waney” is at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art’s sculpture garden, where it overlooks the Oresund, the sound between Denmark and Sweden as the backdrop.

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1. The Infinity Column, by Constantin Brâncuși at Târgu Jiu, Romania
Constantin Brâncuși has been an enduring inspiration for my work. Brancusi’s ability to carve the true essence of his subjects while paying close attention to the medium is likely one of the many reasons he is considered the patriarch of modern sculpture. “The Infinity Column” is part of a sculpture ensemble commissioned by the Women’s League of Gorj to honour the soldiers who defended Târgu-Jiu against German forces during World War I. The sculpture stands 98 feet high and is made of steel, iron, brass and zinc. In Brancusi’s opinion this piece realized “a character of definitive perfection”.

Tilmorrow,
Art, Nature, and Beauty Always,

LYLE

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