Wednesday, September 23, 2009

On Drama

La Renommée de l'Agriculture Statue
La Renommée de l'Agriculture - Gustave Frederic Michel

As anyone who’s read a design blog in the past decade knows, there is a strong and verbal crowd out there that voraciously suckles at the teat of Mid-Century Modernism. And while STUDY loves Mid-Century in all its incarnations - be it Brutalist, New Formalist or even Googie - we're more than a little pleased that Mid-Century is finally loosening its choke hold on the design community... or that the masses have finally stopped sucking.

Or let's look at this another way: Modernist architecture? Fantastic. Modernist furniture? Yes, please. Modernist sculpture? ehhh... yes, but with caveats.

King and Queen Sculpture by Henry Moore
King and Queen - Henry Moore

We love you, we hate you, but do we want you in our home?

Mother and Child Sculpture by Barbara Hepworth
Mother and Child - Barbara Hepworth

So what of Modernism? It's not dead, for sure, but we here at STUDY think it never hurts to throw a little 19th century pathos into the mix every once and a while, which is exactly what we did when we picked up this little beauty courtesy of the Muriel S. Butkin Estate Auction benefiting the Cleveland Museum of Art:
Study for La Pensee by Gustav Michel

She stands 15 3/4" tall and was sculpted by French Artist Gustave Frederic Michel as - most likely - an early study for a work he later cast in bronze, La Pensée.

Study for La Pensee by Gustav Michel

Study for La Pensee by Gustav Michel

We're quite fond of our version of La Pensée, which depicts a rather sober young French woman looking like she's stepped out of the pages of Within a Budding Grove or some equally dramatic belle epoque novel. She's all big billowy bow, serious expression, and just over the top enough for us to let her greet guests when they come into the living room.

Frankly, this is a trend we wouldn't mind seeing take off especially since there are virtually endless opportunities for variation and innovation as opposed to something like, oh, antlers. Although figurative sculpture also presents the problem of being cost-prohibitive and often delicate, something that hasn't gone unnoticed here at STUDY HQ since we're dealing with an almost 100 year-old piece of terra cotta.

It's often said that paint is the most game-changing element you can wield in a space, but if the following images are any indication, we may need to reevaluate:

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home
Domino Magazine

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home

Example of Busts/Sculptures in the Home

STUDY hopes to eventually own another piece by Gustav Michel, but this may unfortunately involve buying A. a bridge in France:

Pont de Bir-Hakeim with supports sculpted by Gustave Michel
Pont de Bir-Hakeim

Or B. A pylon in Paris:

La Renommée de l'Agriculture sculpture by Gustav Michel
La Renommée de l'Agriculture

Either way, it may just be worth it.