Sculptures of Paris - LOUVRE

The collections in Paris have some of THE best work in figurative sculpture. It's a veritable minefield of exploding inspiration. It can make one a bit giddy.

LOUVRE HIGHLIGHTS

Winged Victory

is one of the show stoppers of the Louvre- placed in the most dramatic fashion at the peak of the staircase, it is a prime example of how placement can dramatically effect the impact of a work. It is absolutely stunning and draws hordes of tourist rushing around with their ipads taking crooked photos of its genius. (Later during this trip, in Italy, we would see another cast of the Winged Victory at an art academy, in a small basement room, with inked autographs of students across the bottom... the work was so dwarfed by its setting that it lost nearly all of its incredible power)

Ancient Greece and Rome

Stunning collection of classical works from the Venus de Milo to the quiet passages where you have the chance to be intimate with the portraits and figures, and study the simplicity and beauty that the artists past were able to capture.

Michelangelo's Slaves

Incredible work by the hand of Michelangelo... notice here the example of

contrapposto

- the weight all on one leg, creating the S-curves throughout the body that add to the tension and grace of this figure.

Bernini

Work here by the Italian master Bernini- both in bronze and marble, creating an interesting juxtaposition of materials: note the handling of both the hair and the surface texture on the bronze versus the marble. Also notice the similarity in the way he has simplified the structure of the eye.

Canova's Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss

Intricate figure composition: must be viewed from all angles to appreciate!!

Messerschmidt

Yes! They even had one fantastic Messerschmidt and I was so excited that I had to get my photo taken with him :) This is one of his series of 'Character Heads' sculpted in the 1700's.

Academic French Sculpture

A very interesting time period for the quality of form and naturalism the French method was able to attain. The Louvre houses several important busts by Jean Antoine Houdon- an excellent portraitist. These gems were encased in glass under not so magnificent lighting conditions, but it was clear to see how the forms and their subtle gesture enlivened the face, an amazing blend of soft yet detailed edges.

Plus, a fun discovery in the last room: works by students of the Academy in 1700's! This was one of their 'tests': to sculpt a figure composition based on a given theme. Really fascinating to see them all lined up and be able to compare their differences. Check out the naturalistic realism!

Francois Rude

French sculptor. First image below is a fragment of the relief work on the Arc de Triomphe of a figure grouping. Look at the expression and intensity he was able to convey in the figures face. He was known for his dynamic, emotional style and created many monuments appreciated by the public.

He was also an important teacher in the lineage of traditional figure sculpting (ex: Jean Baptise Carpeaux was a pupil).

Amazing Barye 

Just look at this lion. Barye was insane at sculpting animals.

And here are a couple of his small maquettes - quick studies in terracotta

Those are just a tiny sample of the incredible sculpture of the Louvre. There is enough to learn there to keep you busy for years.