|Survival of Serena briefly graced Petrosino Square in Manhattan last summer.|
While surfing the web today, I was reminded of sculptress Carole A. Feuerman, whose sensual works in resin and bronze I've long admired. Feuerman (who's based in Florida and New York) is technically accomplished and very talented - and her work brilliantly transposes to the present day the great figurative tradition which long dominated public art.
|Golden Mean, a bronze in Peekskil, NY|
The poetic beauty of the human body is in fact what Feuerman is all about - but instead of Apollo or Daphne, or some nameless faun or nymph, she gives us ourselves, in bathing caps and speedos, and of course often in full color, as in Survival of Serena, above, rendered in painted bronze, which stopped traffic in Manhattan for a few months last summer.
Does anybody have to explain that sculpture to you? I doubt it; which, let's be honest, really should be close to a requirement for public art - as willful obscurity is the main reason so many modern and postmodern installations fail so miserably. Face it: the essential (if unspoken) air of gnosis that haunts modernism all but undoes it in the public square. I don't care how far to the left the creators of this art are; what they produce is inevitably elitist, and people resent it.
Somehow, though, Feuerman gets to have her conceptual cake and eat it, too; her sexy sculptures feel sweetly up-to-the-minute, and gently, ironically feminist - and the swimwear her near-nudes sport is pretty timeless, too (I mean are bathing suits going to change anytime soon?).
You could argue, I suppose, that the spandex and nylon that wittily frame her traditional figurative ideas is, in the end, just a gimmick. But so what? It's a great gimmick, and at any rate only an excuse to dodge the pretentious gatekeepers of modernism so we can access the heroic and poetic nourishment the figurative tradition used to provide.
|The artist hangs out with her subject.|
So when someone tells you that figurative sculpture looks cloying or clumsy today (like the dreadful Irish Famine Memorial does, I admit), just mention Feuerman to them.
And if you hear of a public effort to fund a sculpture - particularly near a pool! - be sure to put in a word for her.
Because you know, we don't have to put up with the junk our curators and public art committees keep feeding us.
We can have a Carole Feuerman instead.