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Friday Evening Sculpture – with Brandt Junceau
Want to know how Rodin did it? We’ll learn that, and by the way, see the difference between
“the real thing” (the model’s body), and an image, of whatever kind. Most of our class time is
quiet. Working at a modeling stand, learning to look and gradually making looking and
thinking the same thing. But there’s talk: intros, individual assistance, and each evening we
review our progress out loud. We will learn the practice of courteous critique, which becomes a
foundation of satisfaction, dissatisfaction, and progress.
The class meets 11 times. We’ll be working in clay, from a model, making pieces 12-18” high.
We start with a seated figure, fairly massive, and still. Next a recumbent pose, which picks up
associations with landscape. Having rested on the horizon, we next raise the body on its feet.
Upright figures, with and without armatures, close out the cycle. One exercise employs
rudimentary moldmaking and casting. Works in clay may be fired. Occasional homework
exercises will be assigned, and followed up by work in class time, and repeated. Repetition
makes a staircase: one moves up. Do it enough, and you’re going to get good at this.
Mankind’s earliest human images are milestones in the concept of self, and one’s place in the
world. Sculpture is that fundamental, then and now. The class is deliberately basic, but basic
is where the action is. A likeness from the model naturally and necessarily raises basic
questions. What is an image? What does it ask, what does it answer?
The class will begin with a demonstration, without the model. We’ll make a one-sided mold of
our left hand and make a clay impression from it. We’ll compare the life-cast to a Michelangelo
carving: art is more articulate than life, and more emotional than a typical casting from life. So
then we rework the casting from life to stand up to the carved image. That begins the courselong
exploration of life versus image. The first home exercise, given that evening, will ask
students to collect interesting poses, from media, or any other source, maybe even family
photos, for instance. We’ll talk about them at the next class and carry that conversation
through the classwork poses to follow.
The successive sessions will require a model. We expect to use the same model in each
session of the same pose, 3-4 times in succession. We start with a seated pose, next reclining,
last standing. I’ll give short spoken intros at each session, and a group appreciation at the
I will offer occasional elective meetings at museum exhibitions, outside of class time. These
will work towards our immediate course goals, with direct reference to our ongoing work.
I will photocopy various images and short readings for class reference. Students will be
encouraged to keep them together, with their own notes, for future reference. Some materials
will be an immediate technical reference, to the work we’re doing in the moment, but also a
continuing record of sculpture from life studio practice from the ancients to the present.
This course is open to beginners and practicing artists alike. Everyone gets the same course.
Each student an artist in the making. Therefore, the course will center on the making of an
image, and the basic human and emotional appeal of the image. At every appropriate
occasion we will nod to the sculptural image as a shapely form of language, like a sonnet or a
sonata, saying something the artist meant to say, and more.