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Posts Tagged ‘sculpture’

A blogging friend across the pond at Harvesting Hecate took up a writing challenge, and in turn, Andrea chose three fellow bloggers to carry on the torch. I am honored to be one of the people she chose, and though I am woefully behind time-wise, I do have a few thoughts on this subject. The challenge entails writing about the chosen word and including two quotes, then passing on the challenge to three others. Her word was “joy” and the link above will take you to her thoughts about it. The word Andrea suggested is `Vision.’

As an artist, vision is pretty much everything to me. Over a lifetime I came to understand that people do not all see the same. For much of my life, I always thought that what I saw, you saw.  I simply wasn’t aware of my “vision” as unique and my own miraculous gift. Now I know differently. Below are examples of how I perceive the world – my vision – through my photographs. So yes, some writing, and two quotes I’m loving right now, and my interpretation of the word vision.

Our vision takes us far and into realms of exquisite color …

It gives us a sense of scale …

finds us dreaming in the mist …

or thinking ahead.

Our vision brings us close and aware of texture …

and down roads familiar and well-remembered.

It reminds us that we eat with our eyes first!

Vision brings us back to childhood memories.

Vision takes us places in and around where we live …

and allows us to see through the eyes of others.

It reminds us of the never-ending wonders and beauty of nature.

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
Rumi

Vision riles up our tastebuds …

and makes us curious about our world.

Vision reminds us of life’s most wonderful small joys …

“If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” ~ Emily Dickinson

and to be thankful for all we have.

And then there’s the vision of what we hold within … what forms our dreams, our feelings, our aspirations and inspirations. And what better way to guide us on our inner path than light?


And now I pass on the challenge to 3 more bloggers – Cynthia at cynthiasreyes.com, Pam at roughwighting, and Lavinia at Salmon Brook Farms. If you choose to accept this challenge, your word is `wonder’.

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So many things to do, so little time! I’m tired of looking at my blog home page, but, pulled in as many directions as I am right now, what to post? I scrolled through my photos in  iPhoto and saw all the wonderful Seward Johnson pieces at the Grounds for Sculpture I’d meant to post, but never got to. So, here while we are having a relatively balmy December in New Jersey, I thought to share – just a tease, I know – two images from a very famous painting, Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet.

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What makes the Grounds so fascinating is that you never know what you will find when you turn a corner. So here, tucked in a landscaped area of trees and a pond, one practically stumbles upon Johnson’s recreation of this famous Impressionist painting. The realism is astounding, whether the sculpture is of modern day people or those who have stepped out of  famous works of art.

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Someday, I will get back to sharing more of Johnson’s wonderful work and the Grounds for Sculpture. For now, enjoy this breath of summer before winter really sets in.

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For those of you who enjoyed the art of Seward Johnson in a previous post, I am sharing a bit more of the sculptures (mostly) inside the gallery. It seems almost everyone is familiar with the iconic figure of Marilyn Monroe taken over the air blast from a sewer grate. Johnson has done a fine job of Marilyn in this lovely tableau …

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but many more people are actually familiar with his outdoor version of Marilyn …

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And back to the gallery … perhaps one of the reasons I am drawn to Seward Johnson’s work is that we share something in common – our love of the Impressionist period of painting. Many of his sculptures based on famous paintings are inspired by artists of that time.

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Johnson’s study above is based on “La Japonaise”, a painting by Monet, the model being Monet’s first wife.

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He was also inspired by Mary Cassatt, an American-born artist, (Pennsylvania to be exact), who spent most of her adult life in France, where she soon befriended Edgar Dégas and exhibited with the Impressionists. Cassatt’s painting is “Young Girl at Window.”

Manet is another favorite of Seward Johnson, and there are tableaux of Manet’s paintings throughout the Grounds for Sculpture. Below is a small part of the installation based on Manet’s “Olympia.” My crop reflects what the entirety of Manet’s painting looked like.

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 But Johnson took it one (huge) step further …

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He created an entire room that one can walk into, such as he imagined this woman might have as her boudoir, historically correct to every detail, as are all the items she wears, right down to her shoes.

The last installation I’m featuring, which was actually the first room you walked into, was deeply touching to me, but I didn’t even realize its significance until I got home and looked at the photos I had taken.

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There was a figure in the room just to the right of the sculpture, looking at it. As is often the case, we wondered if he was “real.” It soon became apparent he was not. Then we wondered about another figure a bit further away, who sat motionless on a museum bench. He was so still that it wasn’t until he flicked his finger to scroll down on his iPad that we realized he was not a part of the installation. Distracted by this, I somehow thought that this was a memorial to a soldier.

SJohnson-Memorial911Close2

When I looked at my photos at home, I had no idea how I could have missed that this was a tribute to those who died on 9/11. It is a deeply moving piece, with the helmets of firemen, police and EMS workers, the fire hose, the flowers done in bronze and cement, the figure’s head bowed behind two plaques above and below our flag. The marble plaque below says “Im memory of all those who lost their lives.” The piece above, looking as if it were written on paper, has scrawled on it, “In memory of those who gave their lives to try and save so many.”

And then I saw the two shafts of light in the background where our twin towers once stood, and was overwhelmed with sadness yet again. Thank you for this piece, Mr. Johnson.

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As promised, I will try, as time allows, to bring you some of the amazing works of the sculptor Seward Johnson. He is the founder of the Grounds for Sculpture Museum, which is largely outdoors, and in his 80’s, he continues to work today. A retrospective of his work has been on display for well over a year now, and I feel fortunate to have gotten to see the many pieces that will soon return to their homes around the world.

Just inside the Welcome Center is a large gallery of his works; all but two are based on famous paintings. Today’s post focuses on a few of the works inside the gallery.

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What you see above is a 3-dimensional room created from Van Gogh’s painting, “Bedroom at Arles.” When you step inside the room, there are two shiny black footprints upon which to stand. I, (yeah, I know, shame on me), didn’t read any of the art notes provided, but obediently stood on the footprints anyway and photographed the installation. What I didn’t see until I got home, is that by taking the photo from that exact angle, the effect was that of the 3-D room being flattened to appear as Van Gogh’s painting.

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To me, the genius of this sculpture is not just in Johnson’s usual accomplishment of turning a 2-D painting into a 3-D sculpture, but in then finding a way to reverse it back to 2-D. Above is a photo I took inside the room where you can see that the bed is made up with a real blanket, pillows and sheets.

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Stepping back in time, we have Vermeer’s “Girl with A Pearl Earring.” Johnson sometimes uses a suspended real frame to perfectly surround the subject as he/she appeared in the original painting, while they sit in the proper pose.

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In more than one example of his work, we see Johnson’s sense of humor, and his “Mona Lisa” installation is certainly one of them. Here she sits, nicely framed, as was our girl above. The guards you see below are, of course, part of the installation, but what about the other people in the photos?

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Maybe not so much! What is truly enjoyable as you tour the grounds and this gallery and see his work, is that you are frequently left wondering, “Is that person real?” In a world where only a base under their feet can indicate that the people might not be live, it’s not always so easy to tell. Sometimes you do have to come pretty close to be sure.

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Who knew the Mona Lisa offered photo ops? I can’t help but think Da Vinci would have been amused.

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And who would have suspected that the Mona Lisa was a much more modern young lady than her rather serious portrait might indicate. Cheers to Seward Johnson! You put a smile on every person’s face that looked at this exhibit.

If these works appeal to you, I encourage you to go to Seward Johnson’s website where you can see all his works, often multiple views, and have a link to take you to the original painting upon which he based his sculpture.

More sometime soon …

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This piece is titled “Were You Invited?” and was inspired by Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”

This brilliant sculptor is now having a major retrospective at the Grounds for Sculpture museum. Seward Johnson founded the non-profit museum whose doors opened in 1992.  Johnson is known for his likenesses of famous figures as well as characters in well-known paintings from different eras, some of which are life-sized and some of which are truly of monumental size. He is also known for his sculptures representing people of all ages from all walks of life, including the boy bicycling in front of the post office in town to the couple looking up at the towering version of “American Gothic” by Grant Wood near the highway exit.

You may have stopped by and viewed some of his amazing sculptures in previous posts on my blog – you can start with Grounds for Sculpture III; the others are all linked. When my friends and I went to visit this 42 acre outdoor sculpture museum, there were so many examples of his work, and so many other wonderful sculptures as well, that I went into a picture-taking frenzy, and never found the time to get them all up. When we  go again over the summer, I plan on just focusing on Johnson’s sculptures that I haven’t yet seen or photographed, including the 26′ tall Marilyn Monroe, titled “Forever Marilyn.”

The retrospective will be on view from May 4, 2014 through September 21, and if you are anywhere within traveling distance and can make it to the Grounds for Sculpture, I promise you will not be disappointed in Johnson’s amazing work or the collection of sculpture on the whole. Read more here about the exhibit, and more here on his own website. I can’t wait to go!

UPDATE: By popular demand, the Seward Johnson Retrospective‘s stay has been extended and will be available through July 2015!

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In this third post on the Grounds for Sculpture you will see sculptures inspired by famous Impressionist paintings, and all are by one sculptor, Seward Johnson. As Impressionism is my favorite period of painting, I was beyond enamored while at the Grounds by each and every one. I also discovered, in perusing Seward Johnson’s website, that sculptures I have already included in previous posts are by him as well.

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Entitled “A Thought to Consider,” this sculpture was inspired by Manet’s “In the Wintergarden.”

Johnson is 83 years old, and to say he is prolific is an understatement. His sculptures cover far more than those inspired by paintings, but giant sculptures of people, (see “American Gothic” in an earlier post), and people engaged in everyday activities. If you really want to see the amazing scope of his work, go visit his website.

Meanwhile, enjoy an initial selection of some I photographed.

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“Sailing the Seine” was created after Manet’s “Argenteuil.”

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Seward named this “Pondering the Benefits of Exercise” inspired by Renoir’s “The Rowers’ Lunch.”

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Based on Monet’s “Woman with A Parasol,” Seward named his sculpture “One Poppied Hill.” The woman and her child are indeed high on a hill. You might easily pass them by as you walk through the grounds if your eye had not already been trained to look everywhere as the sculptural gems are displayed in every manner and place imaginable.

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Created 3-dimensionally after one of Monet’s most famous paintings, “Terrace at Sainte-Adresse,” Seward titled this “If It Were Time.” The two photos above are close-ups; to see the entire installation take a quick look here.  (p.s. The child in the view immediately above is real.)

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And who better to show than Monet himself painting the scene, discreetly obscured in nearby brush. Seward named this sculpture “Copyright Violation!”

This is really just a handful of sculptures by Seward Johnson. When I can I’ll share more of his and other sculptures at the Grounds.

Grounds for Sculpture I

Grounds for Sculpture II

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People … there are lots of people in the Grounds for Sculpture, and they’re not just patrons of the arts, but statuary in many different styles and materials.  Here I’m featuring some random sculptures I particularly like. Let’s take a look at who’s in the garden … or on the way to the Grounds.

Something so enjoyable for me was the placement of sculptures all along the route from the highway exit right up to the admission gates. It’d be hard to get lost – just follow the sculpture! As you drive off the exit, there are two young people, pointing across the road …

And what they’re pointing at is a possibly 30′ tall sculpture of American Gothic, the famous painting, below.

What I found incredibly appealing is that there are life-size sculptures of people everywhere, presumably by the same artist. As you drive further towards the grounds, you see a dad helping his son learning to ride his bicycle in front of the town post office. And then as we walked the grounds …

We turned a corner and came upon this couple relaxing on the ground in some quiet shade. They, too, are sculptures, so lifelike it took a moment to be sure.

Tucked in a shady corner was a lovely bronze of a woman in the bath …

And along a path a more modern take of a person sitting …

As we approached the Grounds for Sculpture‘s restaurant, Rat’s, there was a pond to our left, with a sculpted head surrounded by mist, reflecting the slanted rays of afternoon sun.

As we walked further, we noticed another of the lifelike and life-size human sculptures, a woman bathing by the edge of a pond in the forest. The whole setting was just exquisite.

A close-up of the bather oblivious of all around her, also surrounded by soft mist.

The Grounds for Sculpture is its own world. What I also noticed is that every piece of art has lights in the ground at its base. I can only imagine how magical it must be here at night. Perhaps another trip back.

Next post … Renoir, Monet and more.

See Grounds for Sculpture I

Visit Grounds for Sculpture III

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For many years, I drove down Rt. 295 passing this huge red and blue abstract sculpture of two faces in the greenery off to the side and the exit sign for Grounds for Sculpture. And for many years, I vowed I would get there. Finally, I did.

This past Sunday, I had the pleasure of visiting this amazing sculpture museum – 40 acres plus indoor galleries – with two friends who’ve been before. It was impossible to see everything, but we took a circular kind of route to the right and saw many, many amazing works of art. I will present some of the photos I took in installments. Please know that the sculptures featured here represent my own personal tastes and interests and that the photo file names are also my own, not the formal names of the sculptures. I apologize to the artists that I have not included their names – if you would like more information, please visit the Grounds for Sculpture web site.

These two huge bulls were among our first sights as we left the parking lot and entered the grounds.

Another view

This sculpture of silver metal stands about 10 – 12 feet tall and was in the water garden. Clearly a king, he holds his robe with his right hand, (not visible in the photos I took), and looked to us like a Shakespearean character.

A closer view of his face.

This is another of the sculptures in the water garden section. Some were abstract, some literal, but all featured water below, through or around them. This sculpture reminded me of Alice, (or Wonderland), surely my own interpretation of the artist’s intention. What you see in this sculpture is a fine mist. Mist was utilized in numerous sculptural settings throughout the Grounds, always for an ethereal effect that I was very drawn to.

A view of this sculpture from the other side.

The landscaping of the Grounds was beyond amazing. The diversity of trees and shrubbery was fascinating, and often suited to the subject matter of the sculpture. Had there been no sculpture, I would have been perfectly happy to walk the Grounds as a botanical park in its own right. I’ve never seen a tree such as this … lovely.

Another example of how a sculpture was complemented by perfect placement in the greenery. This was a beautiful piece – trees, animals and people in harmony – a peaceable kingdom in three dimensions.

I will feature more in the future. It was quite an exciting visit and I did take lots of photos.

Visit Grounds for Sculpture II

Visit Grounds for Sculpture III

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