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Clothing on statues

(This rant is under preparation and awaiting collection of examples .)

There are in my philistine view three main reasons to make reasonably realistic representations of the human form in solid, long-lasting materials. The first is to celebrate a particular human, typically a king or a hero, maybe just vanity. The second is as a symbol, representing a trade, an emotion, an idea. The third is to celebrate the human form j some way as an artistic exercise.

Kings, heros and the like are defined by their actions, their wealth, their power. All of these things are indicated by clothes. It's therefore more important to show these symbols than the person underneath, who was possibly or even probably unimpressive as a body. So it is natural that such statues show their subjects clothed.

Symbolic representations range from the completely stylised to the lifelike, and may well need detail of dress to have meaning.

Statues presenting the human form for admiration: an athlete, a dancer, a thinker, are, or can be, timeless. The body is the body, it has changed little during the thousands of years of civilisation. Its representation has changed little over this time. A nude of a Greek athlete doesn't looked dated or odd, it's natural. At various times, prudes who would rather the body didn't have the features that it has, always has had, and probably always will have, have obscured parts with fig leaves or wisps of unlikely gauze - this I can just about understand. After all, added fig leaves can be removed again in more rational times. But what gets my goat is the sculpting of, for example, a late twentieth century swimming costume onto what obviously ought to have been a nude. It's not the prudery of the present so much as the attempt to deprive future generations of the true image.



Water Play Michael Pizzello 1993, Hemel Hemstead Marlowes
(photo nib 2007-02-06)

The Whisper Andre Wallace 1984, Milton Keynes Library
(photo nib 2007-05-05)


©2007 Nigel Bromley - 2007-04-21 -> 2007-05-07
+44 7010 700642


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