“Heads” Destroying the Conventional Bust Perception

“Heads” Destroying the Conventional Bust Perception

Especially with the emergence of postmodernism and contemporary art, the view on bust sculpture has changed, considerably. Instead of the classical perception of making the most real or ideal portrait, artists have been in search of reflecting their ideas in a more interesting and unusual way. Abstract forms are one of the keys to demolish the known idea of bust sculpture but working with different materials and deforming the portraits to convey the message behind the busts is more in the foreground. Let’s discover the busts violating the rules! 

1. A Challenge to The Conventions: Abstraction

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Composition, 1932  African wonderstone on a stained oak base, 445 x 457 x 298

Henry Moore is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century just because of his sui generis perception of art. His work Composition is the abstraction of a portrait. Moore’s work shows that the universal concept of busts can be changed and easily in direct proportion to the artist’s creativity, imagination and perception. an interesting fact that he uses African wonderstone, a different kind of stone instead of marble or bronze this was a challenge to the conventions in the early 20th century.

2. An Artist’s Chronicle: Blood, Refrigeration and Busts

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Self, 1991 Artist’s blood, stainless steel, perspex and refrigeration equipment, 208 x 63 x 63 cm

In his series “Self” Marc Quinn creates his own self-portraits by using his blood as a medium since 1991. Portraits show the effect of passing time and drag the viewer meditating upon life and time as well as revealing the natural transformation of the artist.

Works are preserved in refrigeration unit just like a reminder of the delicate frame of human nature.

3. Busts to Decode: Fragmented Minds

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Untitled, stainless steel, oil paint, 48 × 36 × 31 cm.

Matthew Monahan is an American born artist and his works are also challenging for the mind. He usually divides the faces of the busts in some rectangular pieces and plays with their proportions. He destroys the perception of a face. His works also connote Cubism. Materials he uses are varied from paper to wax, bronze or steel. He emphasizes that “They are remote and incomplete and need a careful observer in order to survive.”

4. From Chains to Busts: Weave of Worries

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Self-portrait 3, iron chain, 110x75x30 cm

Korean artist Seo Young Deok’s works are mainly based on the human body however, what is interesting is that he uses chains as creating his figures and busts. His main aim while weaving his portraits is to transmit the worries of today’s generation. The postmodern age people live in linked with the outcomings of technology and already industrialized world comes into being in his figures. He links the chains piece by piece. These chains are taken from bikes or industrial machinery. His works remind the viewer both a long meditation and effort of the artist and the unfolding situation of modern people. Deok’s works push the viewer deep thinking upon the existence and the world we create to live in.

5. Bizard and Fabulous: Absurdity in Meaning

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Fountain Bust #2, 2019, Fiberglass, lights, wood, foam, sunglasses, wig, water, 49.5 × 25.4 × 22.9 cm

Joel Kyack is a contemporary artist and in his works, he especially features the absurdity, black humour and power of allegory. His works give a concept about the world we live in. In his works, he brings together different kinds of materials and objects to create a work out of the ordinary. He creates busts from the varied form of components and his aim seems astonishing people as well as drawing attention just for a second to perceive the work and read between the lines.

6. Waking Up An Utterly Different Place: Figurative Busts

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Fuji-Face, 2012, Ceramic, 40 x 58 x 40 cm

Leiko Ikemura is a contemporary artist from Japan. She especially uses female models in her works as a reaction to the conventional male-gaze idealization of women by the male artists throughout the centuries. Japanistic element can be a subject matter for her, as well just seen as her Fuji-Face bust. In her works, she gives the feeling of the figures, which means her works reflect the inner world of the portrait she chooses to create. Sometimes her works seem figurative and take the viewer away from his own feelings and set him/her on a journey into the world of the figure.

7. A Look Through Civilization: Past, Present, Future in Antiquity

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Blue Calcite Eroded Venus of Milo, 2019, Blue calcite and hydrostone

Daniel Arsham invites the viewer deep thinking about antiquity and the notion of passing time. In his “Paris, 3020” series, to reflect the idea of past, present and future, he made the replicas of well-known classical sculptures by well-known artists. By eroding them he gives the effect of passing time, by choosing classical oeuvres he gives both present and timelessness, but by adding crystal detail he emphasizes the crystallized future. In this work, he uses the famous Venus de Milo replica and he creates his own interpretation.

8. A Way of Creating New Pattern: The Classics

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Basis of a Bust, 2018, plaster, wood, white paint and varnish

Michael Aerts uses the pattern of classical sculpture but quite differently. He adds his own point of view to well-known conventions and the meaning behind them. Then the classical pattern melts away gives a deep meditation on the interpretation of civilization and its change until the 21st century. It also supports an interrogation for the notion of place with the monumental size of the sculptures.

9. The Classical Beauty of Marble: Transparency of the Medium in A Social Context

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Temporal Sitter Bust, 2012, Carrara Marble, 40x35x35 cm

Kevin Francis Gary predominantly works with marble and bronze. What makes Gray’s works unique is instead of using machines to cut his medium for work, his works are handmade. In his works, the texture of the medium seems very real and his meticulous work creates the feeling of a breathing figure. The soft and thin texture of tulle can be felt very well and it seems as if it is real in his Temporal Sitter Bust. As models he uses real people from the streets and the works also reflects the real problems of street people or drug addicts. In a way, he also gives a look at the social problems mostly seen in societies.

10. Subverting The Rules: Busts Are Upside Down

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Repeat (red bust) #1, 2018, Plaster and acrylic paint, 180.3×38.1×30.5 cm

Benjamin Renoux’s works are quite striking and interesting. He destroys the traditional norms of sculpture and plays with these rules by sometimes reversing the perception. In his work Repeat (red bust) #1 serves as an example. The head is on the floor while it is supposed to be on the top. He subverts the rules and exposes the postmodern era that we live.

11. Revealing Nature of The Portrait: Busts Full of Colour

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Pepa, Polychrome metal sculpture, 106.7 × 53.3 × 38.1 cm

Known by his colourful still-life paintings mostly, Willy Ramos also finds a way to express his unique style in his sculptures. He is Colombian-born but he lives in Spain.  His busts seem very joyful and give the thought of how every individual is unique and full of colours! As a contemporary artist, he uses different media to create what exactly he wants to convey to the viewer. The bust reveals the nature of Pepa in many shapes and colours.

12. Witnessing Suffering: Figurative Form of Expression

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Kopf (Head), Bronze, 30 x 16 x 15 cm

Joannis Avramidis was an Austrian artist with Greek origin. In his lifetime he experienced World War Two and bore witness that era’s sufferings because of his origin. In his works, he challenges the norms of proper proportions of the classical sculpture approach. Therefore just like Moore’s works, Avramidis also waders around the figurative depiction of humanity in an abstract representation. By delivering this representation he also gives his way of expression through art.

13. Creating Bridge Between Cultures: The Power of Raku

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K200205 Bish HOPP, 2020, Raku

Dominique Allain’s works are quite extraordinary and fascinating because he uses raku porcelain which a Japan porcelain used for teapots. He transforms this original porcelain into portraits. However, Allain also conveys the psychological state of them with their eyes and facial expressions. His portraits connate the archaic type of busts usually used for religious rituals. By giving the expression of the portraits with a wide range of colour spectrum his works create a bridge between two cultures, West and East.

14. The Keep Eye on Human Body: Monumental Size in Awkward Position

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Mask II, 2001-2, Mixed Media, 77x118x85 cm

The works of Ron Mueck creates the real experience of looking to a human body in quite detailed. He makes his sculptures in monumental sizes or smaller than the normal size. The reason why is that artist wants to draw attention to examine human body down to the last detail. However facing with a giant human in an art gallery can creates an awkward situation. It is highly possible that  the viewer feel uncomfortable because of forcing intimacy with the portrait, plus it is felt as if the portrait may suddenly wake up. Because of its size Mueck’s works can be classified as hyper-realistic, as well.

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