MetaModern Magazine -LATEST ISSUE, APRIL 2014
THE STONE CUTTERS OF THE LAST CENTURY
By: Genevieve Astor
EPSTEIN, GILL AND GAUDIER-BREZNEK
Nothing says British art more than stone sculptures. At the beginning of the last century three very prominent sculptures emerged as the most prolific and prominent sculptures. They were Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill and Gaudier.
Each with their own interpretations and love for the stone, and each masters of their art.
In speaking with the curator of the Royal Academy of Art in London, Mr. Richard Cook, his charming stories and history of these men and their sculptures have given a perspective, humanizing not only the men, but their most unbelievable carvings.
Jacob Epstein, from New York, graced London with his wonderful carvings of stone. Known for his articulation of the human form in a rather almost original primitive form, he captures emotions and moments of time. One of his commissions, and probably his more famous works include those of the maternity series whereby he carved lovely pregnant woman, with their fully exposed breasts. The statures are calm and enlighten us all to that moment of pregnancy, when your body is filled with life and promise. As part and parcel to motherhood, he also carved the most wonderful statues of mother’s breastfeeding their infants. Beautifully capturing that moment of peace when child is nursing and mother is enjoying that particular tranquility of motherhood, knowing that she is nurturing and giving of herself, aiding her little darling with love, comfort and immunity. Additionally, as part of the commission, he carved lovely statutes for the building. Unfortunately, the prudish movement, which most unfortunately took up residence directly across the street from the building of motherhood, created such incredible grief within society, insisting that vulgarity should not be emphasized, let alone portrayed, that the statues that garnered the building were highly disfigured. The prudes won out with their propaganda, never thinking about the disservice to the art world, let alone forcing their most unnatural of motherhood attitudes upon the citizens, all the while the press and community lapping it up.
One of his works, Oscar Wilde’s monument had a most humorous story, and no one could tell it better than Mr. Cook. The story is such that Epstein was commissioned to for the monument, which of course was to be laid in France, and upon his finishing, it was decided, although not by the sculpture of course, that certain particular body parts of this most magnificent man, almost floating and flying over Wilde’s grave, well it seemed that these body parts, were, even for the French, too well-endowed! So, they were to be covered up by an metaled fig leaf! Imagine, first of all the French being so shy, and secondly covering stone with a metal! Years later, the leaf was unwittingly removed and mail back in protest! Well, apparently two elderly women were so upset that this stature’s private were so, well, out there in the open, and so large, that they took their umbrellas and began chipping away, and whacking off the genItalia, until pieces had fallen onto the ground! Well, so mortified was one of the keepers, that he kept some of the larger remnants, and not knowing what to do with the private, fallen, desecrated body parts, he kept them at his home and used them as paper weights!
Artist Epstein, then created the most unusual, most forward thinking of creations, “Rock Drill”. Upon first viewing it air-apparent that George Lucas copied the man, lock stock and barrel for his Star Wars motion pictures. Rock Drill, is just that, a man, again almost primitive in nature, standing atop a tri-podded ground-drill, and apparently still affected by his maternity sculptures, Rock Drill is with child, but more in the breastplate, rather than belly, personally, maybe signifying that from quarry comes stone, begets life’s sculptures. Rock Drill is astounding, crisp, clean, clever, motion intense, and far beyond its timeframe, as the stone sculpture incorporates a genuine drilling tool, which was unheard of at that time period. No one incorporated “real” mechanics, but Epstein did, and it is not to be missed. Truly inspiring and admirable. Remarkably though everyone hated it! It was disbelieved that he would incorporate this drill in his piece, so Epstein sold the drill! No doubt, because he’s an artist, for money! And as it was during the WW and all of the disfigured men coming home, he too disfigured his statue, re-bronzed it, and left is as a torso, only. Don’t miss viewing Rock Drill.
Also on display, is Eric Gill’s work. Truly a tortured soul, as he was later found in his garden wandering about not knowing where he was. To understand his art and his torment, one must know that he is the son of a clergyman, who also has a high appreciation for the kamasutra. The two ideologies did not make sense to him and drove him mad. His sculpture of Jesus and the sculpture of the naked woman were meant as a unit and were never to be separated, but of course, society stepped in and separated them. His point may have been that Jesus and God’s laws exist, and so does nature’s laws of the love and sensuality. He captures the lovemaking of his sister and her husband without vulgarity, yet with sincere wanting.
Again, like Epstein, Gill’s work has a primitive, Easter-Island like nature to it.
The third artist represented was Gaudier-Breznek
His work, like the others is fascinating, but as he progressed in his very, very short career, his figures became far more avant-garde and less and less primitive. Originally, as an artist, he was located in France, but as he fell in love with an older woman, he found the relationship completely unaccepted by his circle, so he left for London. Who wouldn’t! It was in London, where he thrived and was accepted and given enough money and accolades to continue to create astonishing work. His studio was below the train, and used to shake as the trains passed. When he was commission to carve a portrait, his sitter thought he would fall through the rickety chair as it too would quake as the train rumbled above. Oh, the life of an artist…
Maybe it was youth, maybe it was passion, but Gaudier signed up for the war and was killed! His comrades tell that he was a gung-ho soldier and that he would rush the front lines so courageously that he was commissioned immediately. But this enthusiasm was also his demise, for he was struck dead at the most early age of 23. What art he would have been able to create had he just not joined, or at the very least, been more reserved in his zeal.
One famous art benefactor who commissioned him for his portrait, was so distraught over Gaudier’s early death, that he wrote a book of memoirs about the artist.
England’s stance in the proud history of sculpting is a grand addition.
Now, as an aside of the curator, Mr. Cook, he owns two original Picasso’s. While at a cafe, he happened to be seated and noticed that Picasso was also there. Picasso approached him and asked to see his work, Picasso nodded in agreement and enjoyment of Mr. Cook’s work, and as Mr. Cook drew Picasso, Picasso was in turn drawing Mr. Cook!
THE “BUSINESS” OF THE GLOBAL BUSINESS TRADE
By: E J Wickes
Countries have been doing trade with each other since the camel and clipper ships. There was no WTO, World Bank or IMF. If you had something to trade and someone else wanted your goods, you’d make a contract and start doing business. The contract defined the parameters of your trade and bam, you were trading.
Some countries of course were more dominant. Spain, Britain, etc. had a vast military and navy. They would hit the beach with trinkets and beads and generally steal whatever they could from the Third World and when the natives retaliated, they’d send in the troops for occupation and colonization. Hawaii as an example for us. Britain and the U.S. have had a very strong hold on the oil producing Middle East. For some time a few have been getting very rich exploiting the “extraction” principle of economics. Taking resources from a region with little financial return for its people eventually breeds resentment when you consider that the ruling/business classes are the only ones benefiting.
Simply put, you have dominant nations or Superpowers and less powerful or Third World nations. The dominant ones extract from the weakest. The Western corporations, some owned by Americans in America, actually had a sense of national sovereignty to some degree, except for corporations like IBM who during WWII collaborated with the Nazis in secret. As time went on the various industrial nations became specialized in some form of agriculture or manufacturing, so for example, in History, if you wanted olive oil, you’d caravan the urns from Greece or Italy, if you wanted a car, you’d shop American, if you wanted electronics, maybe the Japanese, even though we invented all the electrical components, they manufactured cooler stuff with it. If you wanted optics or cutlery: Germany and so forth. Coffee: Columbia, you get the point.
With the increase of industrialization the stronger countries became more self-sufficient and organized labor was gaining ground. Workers’ rights and fair labor standards were won with minimal bloodshed. With that self-sufficiency came “tariffs”. We could produce or grow just about everything we needed for our day to day living and luxury here at home. It was almost ALL made in America. Although some imports like coffee were expected, if our cars weren’t quite what you wanted, for an additional fee, you could import something different. This protected both labor at home and freedom of choice.
As time went on technology and digital transmissions broke all borders. No longer were national corporations land locked to their labor force or beholding to any loyalty to a labor force who helped them become “too big to fail.” Money can be transferred in the blink of an eye and we can run our corporations from any location at any time. No need to live in any country where we have a business. We’ve joined the “International Ruling Cartel” where there’s safety in numbers. We live nowhere and anywhere. We belong to no country. Our money can be accessed anywhere, anytime. National economic pride in production became a thing of the past.
With the help of the Banking Cartels and a more “global” perspective achieving ground with Big Business, ideas like NAFTA were born. Yes. Everyone could prosper, but “…Only after a while, when things finally balanced out”, we were told. We weren’t quite sure if this was an attack on labor, but Walmart prices sure sounded good to us.
When labor gets too strong it threatens the bottom line of business. Labor and business were at some kind of a standoff for a long time. Even if you’re anti-union, you still have to realize that it was the unions who fought for your rights as well. We all have mixed views on the unions, but just as mixed now with Big Business.
Imagine if you will the members of the “International Ruling Cartel” getting together at some “secret resort” and saying, “Some of these countries are getting very strong. Their economies are ripe for the picking. It’s time to start thinking of ways to infiltrate that gold mine and get our just deserts. Because the Third World has been picked pretty clean, let’s go after the power players. After all, we’re globalized now and we have all our institutions in place. The World Trade Organization to manage trade disputes worldwide, the Banking Cartels to manage the money worldwide, so who needs borders? Let’s compartmentalize the world into trading zones. Since Free trade has declared open season on Third World sweatshops, who needs the American or Western worker with their demands for fair labor standards or a living wage? We’ve been screwing the Banana Republics for so long, let’s team up with the World Bank and start our campaign in the newspapers proclaiming how Rosario will work for sixty five cents an hour in Guatemala.” And the great big sucking sound continues….
Manufacturing jobs in America start dwindling by the thousands, even hundreds of thousands, to millions. Economic standards are declining in the richest, most innovative country in the world. Working communities loosing tax base and municipal services and standards of education. Walmart’s on every exit and tumbleweeds are blowing down Main Street. Outsourcing everything, producing next to nothing in comparison to fifty years ago. Inflation, declining value on goods, labor and of course, the Arts. Wars every ten years to “protect our interests”. Cities in despair; gun violence off the charts. The financial industry has run amok. “Nostalgia. Where the buck stopped somewhere and you could still buy something with it.” The only thing we’re missing here is a huge tropical rain forest and loin clothes. America used to be a producer. Now we’re a consumer nation with a huge unskilled service industry for retail, fast food and hospitality. “No, let’s not raise the minimum wage”, says Big Business. “It’s bad for the economy.”
Gone are the days of the superpower nations. No longer does national pride or loyalty motivate the big business man or banker. The world is his oyster. The black market collapsed the Soviet Union, not Reagan or Gorbachev. The KGB – turned Russian Mafia brought Capitalism to the Eastern Block. Soon Ukraine will bite the dust. The Bankers are in charge. With the advent of the WTO anybody at any time can open a factory anywhere and rarely have to apply fair work or Eco-standards to the Third World in their quest for “Free Enterprise”. And where does it all stem from? The “International Ruling Cartel”. Those who have no loyalties to anyone accept their bank accounts and their hunger for power. And now the superpowers are feeling the suction. Soon we all will be exploited by the “Third World Extraction Economics” of those with no country.
We elect the same type of formulaic candidates who continuously sell us out to special interests and say it’s good for America. And the irony is that the same individuals who play this game are so far removed from it all, they either don’t have a clue which is unfortunate, since we expect them to have some level of expertise with problem solving, or they know exactly what they’re doing and could care less as long as they make it to the bunkers in time. Our economy is being extracted by the millions and eventually if something doesn’t change, or a new paradigm forthcoming, we will be no different than those poor indigenous natives from the far off lands we conquered over a century ago.
(That said, I am fortunate to be working for a small, family owned, American manufacturing business, but there’s damn few of ’em left.)
By: Janet Amid
Plenty of action taking place in the month of APRIL!
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