In our column, Artist File, art advisor Diana Hamm of WK ART shares her guide to bringing sculpture home.
When people first start buying art, it’s generally out of need, and a new house with empty walls often tops that list. As such, most first-time buyers start with paintings, photographs and works on paper; basically, things to fill the walls. While this makes complete sense, I think sculpture is an often overlooked medium on the domestic scale. While sculpture can be overwhelming in both price and size, it’s not always the case, and the right sculpture has the power to totally transform a room. Because you can appreciate it from 360 degrees, it works well in all sorts of places, often in spaces where a painting wouldn’t. Read on to discover my favorite types of sculpture and some fantastic Canadian artists working in this realm.
Clements Design has placed an Alexander Calder mobile over a console topped with African masks. I love how light this makes the Calder feel, emphasizing its movement and grace.
Background: In the 1930s, Alexander Calder revolutionized sculpture by creating the mobile. The aspect of surprise and delight when encountering a mobile, particularly in a house, still holds interest today. The notion of suspending forms allows for movement between the objects, providing a calming and sometimes hypnotizing effect. Mobiles can be placed in an area such as a stairwell, the corner of a room or above a table or daybed for maximum drama.
Photographer: Shade Degges
Designer: Clements Design
A young Canadian artist working in this medium whose pieces I love is
Robin Cameron. She works in a range of materials, from brass to ceramic to video and printmaking. She made the work Movement VII (2019) for an exhibition at Toronto’s Susan Hobbs gallery in 2019. The exhibition was a dedication to the mobile, with the hopes that it would cause a shift in perception (specifically by looking upward). The very nature of the mobile requires the viewer to slow down and wait — to have an artwork in your house reminding you to slow down seems like the best idea yet!
Robin Cameron sells art through her NYC studio while she’s working toward her show at Franz Kaka in Toronto. Her mobiles start at $2,500.
Photographer: Susan Hobbs Gallery
Source: Movement VII (2019) by Robin Cameron
Sculpture As Small Object
Kelly Bergin uses Simone Fattal’s ceramic sculpture (on books) to add color and depth to the console. By mixing textures, material and form, the console becomes a focal point.
Background: The most accessible way to start with sculpture is to buy small pieces to be used as objects. Rather than buying mass-produced decorative accents, adding a small sculpture on a tabletop or bookshelf can really pack a punch.
Photographer: Tim Williams
Designer: Kelly Bergin
Margot Klingender’s work, for example, would be a great addition in this format. Her spunky sculptures look like doodles formed in 2D, which relate back to her formal training in painting and drawing. She uses strong, masculine materials such as bronze and leather and mixes them with more feminine subjects and wobbly lines, which hints at a naiveté in her work and creates a duality that’s really interesting.
Margot Klingender has works available through Projet Pangée in Montreal; prices start at around $400.
Photographer: Projet Pangée
Source: Mini-fleurs (series) (2019) by Margot Klingender
Another Montreal-based artist creating wonderful small sculptures is
Trevor Baird. I love the vessel shapes relating to historical vases, but it’s really the designs on the objects that are steeped in zine culture that keep me gripped. Trevor draws on cultural references and is inspired by daily images. His ceramics are continuations of the zines he’s produced, but the process is reversed; he allows the images to be “open” rather than have a sense of finality when a book is closed. They’re beautiful and intelligent pieces.
Trevor Baird also shows with Projet Pangée; prices start at $800.
Photographer: Projet Pangée
Source: Large Vase 08 (2019) by Trevor Baird.
Sculpture On A Plinth Or As A Pillar
I love how
Grade New York has played with heights and materials in the placement of these two sculptures. The interplay of color and plaster on Annie Morris’ Black Pigment, Stack 10, Cobalt Blue (2017) (foreground) versus the grandeur of bronze in Rebecca Warren’s Fascia IV (2010) (background) makes for a visually interesting contrast.
Background: A formal way to display sculpture is on a plinth. This adds height and grandeur, and can be used for all sorts of objects. Sculpture that acts as a pillar (in that it’s tall and narrow), is a clever way of adding art to the home. I love the idea of dedicating a space to this sort of work, as it adds a seriousness, no matter how playful the art is. A corner, an empty window bay or a location dividing two spaces are perfect spots for this kind of sculpture.
By adding different textures, heights, forms and subjects, this type of sculpture adds another element and layer to a home. It can be substantial or playful, filling a space that would otherwise be left bare to create a little bit of magic and wonder.
Photographer: Richard Powers
Designer: Grade New York
Douglas Coupland’s work, which explores notions of pop culture and society. He looks at consumerism, the environment and what these things mean to us all. Stacking Studies (2011) are glossy plastic and steel structures that soar high and are painted candy colors. Nodding to our obsession with disposables, I like that his work explores these ideas rather than outright criticizes them. He seems to search for a solution together with us.
Douglas Coupland is represented by Daniel Faria Gallery in Toronto; sculptures from this series are priced at $12,000 each.
Photographer: Courtesy of Daniel Faria Gallery
Source: Stacking Studies (2011) by Douglas Coupland
Another Canadian artist creating in this medium is
An Te Liu. Often working in bronze, An takes everyday objects (car parts, disco balls, Hello Kitty merchandise) and imagines what they’ll look like petrified, many generations from now. I love the way the work feels so grand, as his form is inspired by Henry Moore and Constantin Brâncuși, and yet the subject is both eerie and, somehow, funny.
An Te Liu has shown with Galerie Division in Montreal; prices start at $5,000.
Photographer: Galerie Division
Source: Venus Redux (2018) by An Te Liu
Author: Diana Hamm
House & Home September 2020