These days, anything can be called art. An “artist” will tie-up a pair of fuchsia patent leather shoes with an electric chord, throw baby iguana dung on them and perch the whole thing over a gold coat rack and call it sculpture. Or the “artist” will delegate the craft of his work to his studio assistants, noting that it’s the “idea” behind the work that counts and that the execution is less important. I guess this is the result of today’s maniacal consumerist drive to commercialize “things” by calling them art. But this is not my view. To me art is the skill of invention by demonstrating unique practical ability.
Early in March, I was walking through Times Square and ran into a beautifully modeled, large white marble sculpture (approx. 6 feet tall) that stopped me in my tracks. It seemed to me the artist had skillfully spent umpteen hours bringing it to its final form. It was beautiful! As it turned out, the artwork was by Uruguayan über-sculptor Pablo Atchugarry (b. 1952) an artist whose work I was already very familiar with.
Like the greatest sculptors before him, Atchugarry makes his own work from a variety of materials. When he works with marble as he so frequently does, he methodically chooses the block of stone personally (yes he will go to Carrara himself to get his material), paying close attention to its color, surface, vein and patina. He makes no sketches, but draws directly on the surface and then skillfully and slowly gives the inert block its life. He is a celebrated contemporary artist whose work is sold in the primary and secondary markets, is included in important public and private collections from Japan to Argentina and is part of that elite group of artists that has represented their country at the Venice Biennale.
Currently with a show at Albemarle Gallery in London through 8 September 2012, I’ve had the rare opportunity to preview his work and have selected a few of my favorite pieces – in different mediums – that work phenomenally well in any blue-chip modernist interior. Enjoy!
image credits: Daniele e Bruno Cortese for Pablo Atchugarry. Images from top to bottom: Untitled, 2012, Carrara marble, 24 x 5.9 x 4.3 in (61 x 15 x 11 cm.) | Untitled, 2009, Bronze, 35 x 6 x 6 in. (89.5 x 16 x 16 cm) | Untitled, Olive wood, 53.2 x 25.6 x 25.6 in. (135 x 65 x 65 cm.) | Untitled, Pink Portugal marble, 19.3 x 7.5 x 7.5 in. (49 x 19 x 18 cm.)
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