I would like to invest in some three-dimensional art for my home, but I don’t know where to start. What are your thoughts on sculptures and statues?
A very nice idea. Unfortunately for me, I don’t have a huge amount of space at home for big 3D works of art. But then, why should this stop me? Or anyone? Naturally, the idea of a grand entrance hall with a fabulously large piece on a plinth is a lovely idea, but it’s possible to find wonderful pieces of art small enough to fit snugly atop a mantelpiece. Currently, the closest things I have to sculptures and statues are this size, and perhaps more objects than art: the odd Grand Tour-ish bust or head, pots and obelisks.
But why do I talk down my things? A beautiful old pot is certainly a piece of art. Moreover, I believe that everyday objects can be elevated to the status of art, when treated in the right way. Who’s to say that a particularly dazzling piece of rock, mineral or wood cannot be presented in one’s home in the same way that an expensive, exclusive artwork would? I know which I’d rather have when confronted with certain contemporary pieces of sculpture . . . Indeed, I often strew my mantelpieces and tabletops with shining hunks of pyrite, which catch the light and glimmer beautifully.
I’m sure a bit of rock (even a really lovely one) is not quite what you had in mind when writing, so let’s start with some more conventional ideas. To begin with, you need to work out what speaks to you subject-wise but considering also materials and colour. A really convenient way to work out what appeals is to trawl websites such as Artsy, where it’s possible to search via category, and you can filter results in a helpful way. (Price and size are particularly useful, if you have a budget or dedicated space in mind.)
On my wish list? I’ve been falling for the painted wooden sculptures made by Peruvian artist Aldo Chaparro, as well as his smaller, brightly coloured steel pieces, which remind me of crumpled sweet wrappers at Christmastime.
London’s 8 Holland Street is a great source for a variety of affordable vintage and new pieces, and sculpture and objects in particular: in the past it has stocked works by the artist Alice Gavalet, of whom I’m a big fan. Gavalet’s pieces take on unusual forms: vases and vessels feature oversized fins or wings, and her colour combinations are wonderfully vivid.
A different approach: there are many dealers that specialise in archaeological objects, which might be of interest to you. (It certainly is to me.) Established in Paris in 1999, Galerie Chenel occupies a glittering space on Quai Voltaire, opposite the Louvre Museum, a contemporary shrine for antique pieces. Right now I am utterly obsessed with a pair of hips belonging to the gallery and currently for sale. Hips of a satyr, in fact — marble, Roman, 2nd century AD, the hair working its way up the thighs like stylised flames.
I often check in with London’s House of Voltaire, which commissions and sells unique artworks, prints and products by contemporary artists and designers. For a while I’ve had my eye on a small sculptural piece by one of my favourite artists, Pablo Bronstein. Bronstein’s Saint Sebastian hand-cast ceramic pencil holder pays homage to the early Christian martyr, and is a fantastically tongue-in-cheek piece, the pencils, of course, replacing the trad arrows. I can’t quite fathom why I don’t already have a couple of these gracing my desk at work.
I mentioned earlier on about treating pieces in the right way. By this I mean: don’t forget to consider how best to show off objects and sculptures. Plinths work well, depending on where you want to place a piece. Lighting is key.
When I first entered the beyond-elegant London flat of my interior designer friend Douglas Mackie several years ago, I remember being particularly struck by his beautiful collection of sculptures and objects, and how these were shown off on plinths of different sizes and shapes and materials, in front of screens and between armchairs, discreet spotlights casting a glow over Roman noses and organic forms.
I hope that some of these suggestions might give you food for thought. Keep in mind where things will be going, by the way: I love the idea of more contemporary, colourful pieces such as Chaparro’s painted wooden totems in an austere period setting, whilst a terracotta Roman fragment atop a plinth, in, say, lime green lacquer would be total heaven. As for me . . . I’m saving up for those satyr hips.
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