Thursday, October 22, 2009

In Art, One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Some artists think big, others prefer small. Consider Willard Wigan, a 52-year-old Briton, who creates astonishing micro sculptures so tiny they fit inside the eye of a sewing needle.

A slideshow reveals Wigan’s brightly painted 3D scenes -- a tableau of Alice in Wonderland, Apollo Astronauts, the Obama family and many other remarkable mini artworks.

Wigan’s relies on a scalpel, a fly-hair brush and a microscope to see what he's carving and painting. He says it can take up to three months to finish a piece.

In a gallery setting his works are placed inside a illuminated transparent domes and viewed by visitors through powerful microscopes.

Wigan’s works, which can cost more than $40,000 apiece, are owned by a wide variety of collectors, including Prince Charles and Mike Tyson.

At the opposite end of the size spectrum we have the recently installed “God Bless America” in Chicago’s Pioneer Plaza. This sculptural rip-off of Grant Wood‘s “American Gothic” is noteable for more reasons than it’s 25-foot height.

The artist is Seward Johnson, who inherited a huge fortune from his grandfather, one of the founders of Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals. After being fired from his family’s company, Johnson got into art and has been making sculpture since the 1970s.

Johnson, 79, has been using computer scanning to make kitschy cast statues based on images of famous artworks by others (Monet, Rockwell, and presenting it as original artwork. His
foundation has placed over 500 of Johnson’s statues with municipalities, hotels, airports, corporations, schools and private collections. These works have been panned by museum
curators and art critics of national stature, says the NY Times.

Nonetheless, Johnson’s “God Bless America” has managed to please both the cognoscenti and passers-by. Whether it is due to the public setting, or improved 3D mapping technology, or simply its sheer monumental size, there is something both surprising and pleasing about Johnson‘s version of Wood‘s original painting.

It’s a very big hit in Chicago. "The image is so iconic, and it encourages people to go to the museum, "said one pedestrian.

Big, small or in-between -- in art as in most other things, size doesn’t matter.

Visit the BINDERS website at!

No comments:

Post a Comment