Inspiration: Pageant of the Masters and Hellenic sculpture

August 29, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Recently I enjoyed the Pageant of the Masters for the first time. While I was enjoying the performance, it struck me that the representations of sculpture would make fantastic subjects for photography.  Along the lines of the Pageant of the Masters, I am thinking of a project that would combine models, makeup, and wardrobe elements to capture the essence and feeling of some of these works of art.  I have done some research on sculpture from different periods and am attracted to the sculpture from the Hellenic period (originally done in bronze but mostly known through later marble copies), and the more recent work of Michelangelo and Giambologna.     Some of the works I am looking at include:

Discoboulous, Myron - the ideal of the athlete

Apollo of Belvedere - praised as the quintessence of perfect beauty and the ultimate ideal of the male body; studied by many generations of artists (contrapposto)

Venus de Milo - the ideal of female beauty; example of S-curve body shape. This photo in this link doesn't show the S curve as well as other angles but it highlights the detail of the work on the musculature.  This one is a better illustration of the S curve.

Menelaus and Patroclus (Pasquino group)

Attalid group of Gauls at Pergamum

Aphrodite, various

Laocoon and his sons

Hermaphroditos, Roman 

Donatello's David, circa 1444 (contrapposto)

Michelangelo's David, 1503 (contrapposto) 

Salt cellar, Benvenuto Cellini, 1543

Florence Triumphant over Pisa, Giambologna, 1570

The Rape of the Sabine Women, Giambologna, 1583

Cupid and Psyche, Antonio Canova, 1793

What is it about the Hellenistic works  that I find inspiring?  In the Hellenic period artists were building on the forms of the Classical period, bringing a strong and seductive realism and huge increases in technical refinement.  Sculpture of heros and gods captured what was seen as the ideal human form  at that time.  Satyrs and nymphs are lighter, more playful figures that express the benign and sensual care of Dionysus, the wine god.  Perhaps this is the same thing that inspired what are assumed to be many direct marble copies by Roman artists, and later derivative works by Donatello, Michelangelo, and other Renaissance artists.  

What is the project? To create images inspired by these great works, attempting to either re-create the original works with some degree of fidelity; or if not, to capture some of the essence of the original.  The re-creations would have to be much less elaborate than what the Pageant of the Masters can undertake, so the challenge is to see to what degree the original can be captured, with limited resources. A first step will be to pick one or two of these works and start designing a simplified set and makeup approach.  And finding people to work with to realize the vision.


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