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Friday Evening Sculpture – with Brandt Junceau

Spring 2019

Course Description

Some of us consider the head the basic unit of sculpture. It’s the one piece of the body that can
stand in for the rest, and, in the Western tradition, the head alone may be taken for a likeness of the
whole person. How did Rodin do it? And what did he get from Carpeaux, Houdon and the
Romans?

This class is basic. We make a life-size head in clay, from a model. It will be fireable. You’ll have a
terra cotta, and we’ll discuss how raw terra cottas can be finished and mounted. The technique is
nuts and bolts, as basic as possible. Taking the measure of the model by eye, calipers, and
comparison. The head is a big place. Without basic arithmetic, you can get lost in there. Rodin,
famously, stuck to the arithmetic, and he was fast. Not so artsy, very effective. While we’re working,
I’ll tell a few stories, and week by week bring in pictures. We are dealing the head “as seen,” but
as seen in the western tradition of naturalism. We’ll talk about what our naturalism is, and isn’t. We
learn to “make an eye,” but there are as many naturalisms and as many eyes as times, places and
artists. We’ll demonstrate the Houdon and the Rodin eye. We’ll look at many eyes, more than one
mouth and more than one idea of character, attitude, and “life.”

The takeaway is your first run-through, mapping the head face-front and profile, making features
that look right, and getting to a point of life-likeness. We do not copy the model. We get the
geometry right, things in their places, and then comes a glimpse of likeness, like recognizing
someone in the street; ah, that’s him. The glimpse is enough. That glimpse is the target. Always
has been. It might be rough. Having got it once, you have the touchstone for any head you try
hereafter.

 

Course Syllabus

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