Monday, August 08, 2005

Artist of the Week 08/08/05

Don't adjust your medication, you're not hallucinating again. Although, if you saw this sculpture in real life you'd likely question that even more. Looking at the work of Robert Lazzarini can make you a bit dizzy.

Robert falls in that category of artists who are probably no longer as underappreciated as I had intended this series to focus on (he's just been picked up the powerful
Deitch gallery in New York), but he's a hell of a good guy and I love his work, so he's the artist of the week.

Robert Lazzarini, Phone, 2000, Plastic, metal, rubber and paper

Despite talking about it each time we've met for years, Robert and I have yet to arrange the studio visit we've wanted to do, so his process remains a bit fuzzy to me (see description below though). Not that knowing the process for this body of work could in anyway diminish its impact, IMO. No matter whether you've seen it made or not, I'm sure, your eyes refuse to accept what they're seeing when faced with the final wonderously distorted versions of everyday objects. You walk around them, expecting them to fall into perspective at some point, only to keep shaking your head and blinking.

As much as possible, Robert's sculptures are made from the exact materials the real things are (yes, there's actual bone in the piece at the top, along with resin and pigment). The text from his one-person exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts described his process this way:

Lazzarini’s approach to sculpture combines traditional processes with advanced technology. He begins with a familiar object, from which he makes a digital scan. Using computer-assisted design programs, he subjects the image to two-dimensional distortions, then creates full-size three-dimensional models from these electronic files through rapid prototyping, a method of computer-generated model-making. These models form the basis for the final sculptures, which he produces from the same materials as the original objects and to the same scale, but incorporating the visually perplexing geometries.
The "Hammers" below are made of nothing more than oak and steel:

Robert Lazzarini, Hammers, 2000, Oak, steel

Robert had a show stopper in the 2002 Whitney Biennial. Like all of his work, you really have to see it in person (and even then, you have to see it again and again):

Robert Lazzarini, Payphone, 2002, Anodized aluminum, stainless steel, Plexiglass, and silk-screened graphics

And here's that same piece again, with the artist, for perspective

Last time I talked with him at any length (there's so much demand for his work, he's always rushing around), he was really excited about the next series. Here's a sneak peek at what's coming next:

Robert Lazzarini, Table, Notebook and Pencil, 2004, Mixed media, 6'4" H x 4'6" W x 36" D

UPDATE: Be sure and read this excellent interview with Robert by From the Floor's Todd Gibson. The most eye-opening idea exposed in the piece is how Robert sees the work as referencing seemingly polar opposites, being in one sense both highly formalist and, through the distortion, mannerist at the same time.


Blogger Tyler said...

The catalogue for RL's show at the VMFA is one of the best catalogues around. Snap it up at Amazon or from the VMFA before it's all gone... (Amazon has only two left.)

8/08/2005 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

er, well, John Ravenal and Robert both, independently, had promised to send me one, but alas...

but from others I hear you're right about it...supposed to be a keeper.

8/08/2005 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

So, kind of a Dali meets guy with cad software and his own rendering machine?

To me, it's cool in a "whoa dude, look at that", kinda way, but I wouldn't spend much on it. There are folks out there all over that create stuff in that manner using their own original designs, from toys to computer case mods.

8/08/2005 12:15:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it is an ongoing debate, crionna.

I had two powerful art critics in the gallery once arguing over whether there's more than just, as you call it "whoa dude, look at that" to Robert's work. One suggesting that after he's done the Eiffel Tower, what's left, but the other insisting there's an important experiential aspect of the work that the other one wasn't acknowledging.

Any time I'm near Robert's work, I'm drawn to it like a moth to a I think the second critic had a point.

8/08/2005 12:23:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

Any time I'm near Robert's work, I'm drawn to it like a moth to a flame

Well, I'll trust you on that then and believe that in person they must be much more interesting.

8/08/2005 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

ouch! ;-)

8/08/2005 05:51:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

love love love his work :)

8/08/2005 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

me too bambino

what do you love about it?

8/08/2005 06:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Henry said...

I saw the phone booth at the Whitney, and there's definitely something to seeing it in person that can't be described by a single photo. The modern eye is trained to account for photographic distortion in a photo, but not in 3-D space. The image I had of walking into the room with the phone booth in it will not soon leave my memory.

8/09/2005 01:22:00 PM  

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