Declaration of interest: I first saw the poetically waxen sculptures of Medardo Rosso during a European art tour (a budget European art tour, dear reader). I have loved his work ever since.
The Rosso work I saw in the Salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art Belgrade and elsewhere was different to any sculpture I had ever seen before. It had about it the texture and luminosity of the living subject.
|Medardo Rosso, 'Madame Noblet', |
Museo Medardo Rosso, Milan
At Ropac, we have a gathering of 12 lifetime casts, generously lent by private collectors, art institutions and the Museo Medardo Rosso in Milan. Before they return to their owners, I would like to suggest that we study them more closely. For, as many have suggested, they are pivotal in helping to bring the monumental and classical down to earth and out of the halls of academia. If they were to be reproduced, using the artist's extant moulds, they could be teaching instruments.
|Medardo Rosso, 'Laughing woman'|
1890-1910s, posterior view with
kind permission of the Gallery
The sculptor's techniques were equally innovative. He worked in plaster, wax and bronze. Plaster sets hard, but before it sets it is wet and it is viscous (read the very devil to work with). Rosso used it structurally, not only in modelling and casting but as the base of many of his wax sculptures. Then there is his mastery of the even harder to handle beeswax (see image below). But I must stop this section here. But I would love to revisit this exhibition - this time accompanied by a materials scientist, to try to find out how exactly he managed this magic.
|Medardo Rosso, 'Jewish Boy'|
1893, picture supplied by
Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac
The exhibition carries a scholarly underpinning that consists of Rosso's drawings, sketches, photographs and correspondence and which does much to provide a context for the work shown.
The exhibition is co-curated by Sharon Hecker** and Julia Peyton-Jones. A book, Medardo Rosso: sight unseen and his encounters with London, cataloguing the exhibition and charting its origins, and written by Sharon Hecker and Julia Peyton-Jones and with a Foreword by Thaddaeus Ropac, is available from the Gallery.
* See Dolan, John, 2000, Poetic Occasion from Milton to Wordsworth, Palgrave Macmillan.
** See also Hecker, Sharon, June 2017, "The afterlife of sculptures: posthumous casts and the case of Medardo Rosso (1858-1928)", in The Journal of Art Historiography, No. 16.
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