Bronze, Gallery Opening Receptions, Gallery Openings, Sculpture

Capturing the Verve: Process

Julliard. Bronze, 1986.

The gallery is in full preparation mode for our new May show– Capturing the Verve: Prints and Bronzes by Robert Cook, which opens next Friday 5/181/12. The walls are being painted; shelves for the sculptures are being installed. Seeing a show come together- from it’s initial idea, to communications with the artist, to selecting the pieces and creating press materials for a new show, all up to the final stages of installation-  is always exciting and rewarding for us at the gallery.

Likewise, learning about the process and steps an artist takes to create his final print or sculpture can be just as revealing and exciting. Many of Robert Cook’s sculptures are created using the lost-wax process. Below you can read an excerpt from his book “Circles and Cycles: Robert Cook” ( Jasillo Press, Rome, 1997) which chronicles Cook’s introduction and experimentation with the method.

” On moving to Rome in 1948, wax began to take over in earnest. In the studio next to mine the well-known sculptor Pericle Fazzini was constantly retouching his small figures in wax. They had to be done first in clay then in plaster from which a piece-mold was made. Into the piece-mold wax was poured and allowed to sit until the foundryman deemed it coll enough to empty, leaving a layer of wax of the correct thickness for casting into bronze, perhaps the thickness of cardboard. So the waxes I saw him retouching were hollow. He was using heated spatulas for this and had to be careful not to remove or to add too much wax, so that it remained of uniform thickness for casting.

Offenbach I . By Robert Cook, Bronze, 1980. Skirt made from a thin slice of natural beehive.

This process required too many steps for me so I gradually began cutting down until I was modelling the final version directly in wax. The biggest disadvantage in this process was that I had to keep the wax from 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick so that it would cast well in bronze. If the wax were too thick, the flowing bronze would become porous and would withdraw from the thinner sections of the casting. Anyway it would make a bronze that would be too heavy for practical purposes. If the wax were too thin the bronze would flow badly, leaving holes in the thinnest parts. Another difficulty-if you consider it so- is that only one bronze can be obtained from the original wax in what is know as the lost-wax process. ”

“As I made larger and larger pieces in wax I wearied of cutting them in sections to hollow out the excess wax, and then reattaching them as one does in ceramics. So little by little, I began thinking in hollows and solids– or white and black if you will. After all, in a line drawing the viewer’s mind reads negative as well as positive without even thinking about it.”

Medal Swaying. Bronze, 2006. Both the front and back side are pictured.

“Another fascinating problem I have posed for myself is medals and circles done directly in a sheet of wax. Where there is raised or convex form on one face there must be a corresponding concave form on the other. In addition the obverse and the reverse should have a rapport of some sort, be it in subject, time, space, or sentiment. Sometimes I perforate the surface which gives an additional opportunity to connect them. For me it is far more absorbing pastime than doing crossword puzzles. ”

To see the works included in Capturing the Verve: Prints and Bronzes by Robert Cook, visit our website. If you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to write something in the comments section below, or email us directly at the gallery at info@oldprintgallery.com. We hope to see you at the opening next Friday!

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