Trying to find “a place under the sun” for sculptural drawings, I found that our age was particularly interested in still unrevealed partial problems hidden in frontier zones.
Encouraged by the success of inter-professional scientific research, the time has come for the students of broader artistic fields to examine hitherto neglected by-products and intermediate genres, such as film stories, essays and, in music, piano transcriptions.
These apparently peripheral phenomena act as condensers, focusing on a wide scope of ideas, and putting their environment, the “original” genres covered by them, into a new light.
Sculptural drawings too, in their self-identification revealing identities and differences, revising space and time, plane and volume as principles, can give new answers also to questions interesting the larger public
such as what is sculpture,
and how does it relate to the horizontal arts?
Late in the 19th century the sculptors Hildebrand and Rodin analysed the works of Michelangelo and the Greeks, and gave a still valid although not commonly known answer to this question. Depending upon their architectonic, resp. organic outlook they approached the problem from different directions and reached the conclusion that a sculpture was the special combination of the pictorial and material world enriched with the moment of time.
Depending upon the change of viewpoint the representation is steadily projected onto an interior architecture which is relatively independent of it (mode of existence – visible form, the flickering lamplight on the wrinkles of Venus’ stomach), and creates an outward-radiating virtual space.
This concise statement which would fit also cubism means also that (remaining within the scope of figurativeness) the silhouette – the two-dimensional projection of reality, is necessarily inserted between the three-dimensional reality – the model – and the three-dimensional pictorial reality – the sculpture.
This upsets Winckelmann’s, resp. Hegel’s hierarchy according to which artistic thinking also follows the direction from plastic to pictorial, resp. from sensory to conceptual because the drawing as an abstraction is not the end result in the case of sculpture but rather plays the part of “conciliating middle member” between the three-dimensional spheres of sensory reality.
An example of this is the trade mark of our exhibition, that drawing of Rodin whose pre-cubist features, scratchy, heaped line-network, bear witness to the subdued struggle of dimensions.
The drawing of a contemporary painter, e.g. Renoir, carries much less contradictions, is much easier to understand, and so much more enjoyable and spontaneous!
Our chosen painter tries to transcend his original medium, the plane, and reduces his motif in the direction of bodies of rotation, stressing volumes. Our glance is not much hampered by interior contours, hence it glides round the figure, and if a time-moment exists at all, it manifests itself rather in the melody of the outlines.
As in the case of painters whose style Wölffl in used to call “linear” (Raffaello, Dürer) on whose drawings the sculpturally modelled figures seem rather to exist in the represented realistic space and not create it.
The drawings of artists with a “painterly” style are much more sculptural in the treatment of space-time-volume. It is not accidental that Manierist and Baroque masters refer to Michelangelo whose drawings, violating the classical subordination and cutting up volume with the interior contours running along anatomic details, seem to run in the track of time.
The price of this new dimension and expanded experience of sight is that the drawings of Michelangelo, compared to those of Leonardo, are somewhat flatter.
This applies also to Rodin who, in his drawings, also neglects his original medium, volume, quite spectacularly. By heaping projections one upon another and accentuating the interior contours, he seems to mould the plane at his disposal and create a stretched space with several points of view, determined from within.
This dense space flows through the figure, seems to be of identical material, and expand beyond the paper’s edge. The contours are hard and rough, do not offer a smooth glide round the figure to the eye. The clustered limbs seem to want to break out of their space-traps individually. The idea of the struggle with material, as Michelangelo’s heritage handed down through centuries, forces the figure quasi tragically back into the prison of the plane.
Despite this the movement is graceful, the forms translucent, our imagination unfolds the hidden viewpoints easily.
The analysis of the works of past ages, the recording of differences is instructive but valid only as far as it illuminates the common roots. In our century when genres mix, artists renounce representation and new objectification appears, the claim of visualisation brings the visual genres again nearer to each other.
The plane, so fertile and carefully worked in the early Middle Ages to which the sculptor, if he made drawings, has remained faithful, has also enchanted painters more and more. By accumulating brush-work, gesture and projections, they created a muffled spatial tension which brings the plane to life just as it swings the work appearing as an object over into pictorialness.
The drawing, concealing in itself the rich possibilities of interpretation, stands on the intersection of this two-directional yet con-substantial ambition – the objectification of the plane, the spatialisation of the object.
(Meeting of the Dimensions. The 2nd National Biennial Symposium of Sculptural Drawing. Budapest, 14 March 1992. unnumbered pages 17–23)