Medardo Rosso

I went to the Estorick Collection last term to learn more about Boccioni, which I did, but I was blown away by an Italian sculptor called Medardo Rosso who spent the later part of the 19th century struggling with a way of interpreting the fleeting or transitory within traditional sculptural forms. Rosso suggested that the other Post Impressionist sculptor Rodin stole his ideas, and there may be some truth in that. Rosso only ever produced about 20 different forms, but constantly reworked them in different materials from Bronze to Wax.

The Golden Age (1886)

Impressions of the Boulevard (1893)

Maternity (1889)

The audacity of his abstractions is breathtaking. I’ve never enjoyed traditional sculpture too much – it seems tied down to the effort of representation and lacks the colour, depth and variety available to traditional painting – too much time is spent admiring the skill as opposed to the art. Rosso uses representation but encases it in the material of the sculpture, as if the figure is coming into existence right now. This idea of a sculpture living within a block of material has parallels with the way I’m extracting portions of data from a 3D array. I wonder if I should make this becoming more obvious by displaying portions of the data in its raw state, ie. layers of unmoulded card, or perhaps heaps of random card. Perhaps that is for a future series after the MA.

What I find the most compelling in Rosso’s figures is the balance between a struggle to break free of the constraints of the material, and being subsumed within the material. I can see that something of this effect could be realised within my work by careful selection of subject material. For example the way that Man Toching his Toes can look abstract at one moment and then you catch a glimpse of a buttock, or shin, which throws it back towards the figurative. If I can capture this balance right then I might really have something.
Another example might be the Man Turning in Bed piece – this has the potential to be both abstract and figurative at different times, a pile of writhing limbs.

I wonder if colour adds or detracts from this process? Redondo’s use of plain materials has been described as almost producing an effect of colour. But by physically colouring my sculptures, are my representational intentions made more obvious?


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