Italian Sonnet, Sculpture
Art is justified, as man is justified, by the faculty of forming ideas…
- Kenneth Clark
Artistic imagination can be more nearly described as the finding of new form for old content, or--if the handy dichotomy of form and content is eschewed--as a fresh conception of an old subject. The invention of new things or situations is valuable only to the extent that they serve to interpret an old--that is, universal--topic of human experience.
- Rudolf Arnheim
Pre-historic creators, and creators we refer to as "primitive", expressed universal truths simply and poetically without ostentatious surface glitter. We don't make art like that because we are visually too "sophisticated." Brancusi tried but most of his sculpture is too self-conscious. Minimalism is visually simple but it lacks depth and spiritual power. Unless soullessness is the expression of minimalism. Then it does succeed.
But Italian Sonnet succeeds in expressing powerful, universal truths simply, without ostentation, and without self-consciousness. Italian Sonnet is deep and without the surface bling of sophisticated pomp.
Italian Sonnet is a small sculpture, small enough to be held in the palm of the hand, with big ideas. It represents the precarious binding of opposites: the eternal (rocks) with the temporal (wood, twine), nature (rocks) with culture (dowel, twine and the act of manipulation of these materials), male with female, light with dark. Italian Sonnet is a universal icon that may well be considered by future generations as one of the most important sculptures of the twenty-first century.
Originally, Italian Sonnet was created as an architectural concept model for my Master thesis. The thesis, titled INTERPRETATION OF POETIC FORM, involved translating the form of the sonnet into architecture. As such, Italian Sonnet is a translation (transformation?) of the form of the Italian sonnet into a physical object. The lighter horizontally oriented rock represents the octave, the darker vertically oriented rock represents the sestet and the dowel and twine represent the volta, that key element that gives the sonnet its iconic structure.
But Italian Sonnet is more than a concept model. And its humble origin of conception belie a serious work of art. It is more than a mere translation of a form of one medium into a form of another medium. Italian Sonnet is a transcendent artwork. It is sculpture as poetry. It is a sculpture that offers a fresh conception of an old subject. It is a new interpretation of a universal topic of human experience. Italian Sonnet connects the art of the past with the art of the present with the art of the future.
Italian Sonnet connects us to our past. It connects us to our beginnings. The sculpture alludes to the menhirs, the cromlechs, the dolmens, and the Willendorf Venus. It alludes to the primitive art of the primitive man. It alludes to the first rudimentary tools: the tying of a sharp rock to the end of a stick to make a spear. It alludes to the first shelters, the dark cold caves that our ancestors inhabited. It alludes to the beginning of thought and of civilization. It alludes to the beginning of artistic expression.
Italian Sonnet also connects us to our present. The sculpture is a modern artwork with a modern aesthetic. It is abstract art, minimalist art, found art, assemblage art, land art, environmental art. The sculpture connects all these modern movements by exhibiting their essence.
And Italian Sonnet connects us to our future. It connects us to our future by expressing universal truths that always were, are and will be. For example: the piece expresses man's subjugation of nature (the controlling of, or the "tying-up" of the forces of nature). It expresses the "enslavement" of nature to men's needs and desires. It also expresses the precariousness of culture and of civilization. Leave the sculpture outside or bury it in the ground and in less than a year the twine and the wood dowel decompose and the only thing left will be two unconnected rocks. All record of human intervention erased.
The allusions of the sculpture proliferate further, beyond those of Western art. Italian Sonnet alludes to the form of the yin-yang symbol. It alludes to the Japanese Zen garden with its stones "floating" in a pool of combed sand. And like the stones of the Zen garden that mean to express mountains, Italian Sonnet is a small object that expresses monumental ideas.
Ultimately, it is the poetic richness of Italian Sonnet that makes it one of the great sculptures of this century, and one of the great spiritual works of art of any century. A simple idea expressed with simple means, Italian Sonnet transcends physical matter and ascends to the realm of the spirit. The sculpture is both modern and ancient. Italian Sonnet is universal in its primordial expression of the human condition. Maybe not just human condition, but the condition of all life.