Figurative artwork, or figurativism, implies representational artwork. It describes any form of art that includes references to real world objects, particularly to human and animal figures. The term “figurative art” is a relatively modern one, coined somewhat in response to the emergence of abstract art, which is synonymous with non-representational art. Michelangelo and Alberto Giacometti, for instance, are great examples of unique figurative sculpture artists from the late 1400s and mid 1900s respectively.
In a general sense, the term “figurative” is retrospectively applied to all art before abstract art. It’s also distinct from modern realism in that figurative artists employ contemporary references. Modern realists also base their work on real world objects, but their styles predate the post-impressionism period, i.e. prior to around 1886.
In this blog, we’ll look at some figurative sculpture artists whose work is showcased here at Marcus Ashley Gallery.
Micheal Parkes is arguably the leading magical realism artist in the world at the moment. His sculptures (and his artwork in general) borrow heavily from figurativism, seamlessly blending these two styles. Interestingly enough, Parkes used to paint in the abstract expressionist style earlier in his artistic career. At a certain point, he gave up the practice of art all together and traveled to India in search of inspiration and philosophical illumination. Emerging from his hiatus, his style underwent a dramatic change, represented by the vast body of his work today.
Parkes uses various mediums, including canvas, paper, vellum, stone lithographs, and bronze sculptures. His figurative sculptures are truly stunning, and versatile in that they work in a variety of spaces. They blend mythical and modern elements in ways that surprise and delight. There’s usually an interesting backstory to go with them as well.
Angel Affair, depicted here, was conceived while Parkes was stranded at Zurich airport in the middle of a snowstorm. His companions happened to be businessmen. While waiting for the next flight, he fell into a fitful slumber and dreamt of angels flying down to the businessmen to kiss their loneliness away. When he woke up, he swore he saw an angel fly away and leave behind a single feather that he has to this day.
As with most of his figurative bronze sculptures, Angel Affair is rendered in a traditional Florentine patina, however, you can choose to buy it with a customized, colorful patina that Parkes creates using special techniques. The intricate detailing you see on parts of the sculpture, including the angel’s wings and the businessman’s hair is achieved using a special sculpting technique called ‘Lost-wax’.
As the son of world-renowned artist Richard Kramer, Boris was perhaps born to be one himself. His figurative sculptures are found in galleries and private collections all over the world. He uses mediums like steel, bronze, brass, and copper.
Kramer learnt blacksmithing techniques at an early age by his father’s side. His work showcases a fascination for human relationships and often evokes dynamism and intensity of the kind found in exuberant dance routines.
Case in point — Synergy — is a polished steel creation. The figures are forged from mild steel, which is heated, twisted, and welded until the figures form a continuous loop. They’re meant to showcase the strength that is found when two people connect intimately.
This steel sculpture is about 50 inches or just over four feet tall and works equally well as an outdoor or indoor showpiece. Each of Kramer’s sculptures are unique, hand forged and personally signed by him. You can explore more of Boris Kramer’s work at Marcus Ashley Gallery. Keep a close eye on our events calendar to see when Kramer is due to visit one of our gallery art events next.
Michelangelo is one the greatest, if not the greatest, figurative sculpture artists of all time. Referred to as Il Divino or “the divine one,” his skill is and will be revered for generations to come. His works during the Renaissance period are some of the most recognizable and important images in art history and treasured possessions in museums and private collections worldwide.
Featured here is arguably his most famous bronze sculpture ever — the Pieta. As one of his defining creations, it cemented his name in history at the age of 23. The Pieta was commissioned in 1498 by French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères, initially as a tomb monument. However, it was so well received that it went on to be showcased inside St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, where it stands to this day.
Originally carved from beautiful Carrara marble, the figurative sculpture depicts the Virgin Mary supporting the body of the dead Christ in her lap after his crucifixion. The Pieta is special because this theme of the Virgin Mary and Jeses was virtually unknown in Italy at that point in time. Bronze limited editions of Michelangelo’s work today are sanctioned by Casa Buonarroti. Formed by Michelangelo’s family after his death, they are the sole possessors of the artist’s “droits morale” or moral rights. We are honored to offer our clients and community access to these treasured works.
The late Loet Vanderveen’s work as a figurative sculpture artist stands out in this list for his focus on animal forms. The highly stylized poses and interpretations of his sculptures give you some sense of his great love for animals. His creations are coveted possessions in museums worldwide. Marcus Ashley Gallery hosts one of the few comprehensive collections of Vanderveen’s work available anywhere in the world.
Vanderveen worked largely with bronze. Kudu, Greater-Regular, shown here is a great example of his attention to detail when representing the animal form. The greater kudu is an antelope found in southern and eastern Africa. As someone who’s been on many African safaris for first-hand inspiration, much of Vanderveen’s work showcases wildlife from that region. This figurative sculpture shows the antelope nestled in its natural sedentary pose in the wild. It’s rendered with an elegant black crackle patina, lifting the appeal of the piece.
Explore More Figurative Art at Marcus Ashley Gallery
All the artists featured here and more can be found at Marcus Ashley Gallery. Browse through the work of Renaissance masters and modern to contemporary geniuses alike. If you’re really struck by this art style, talk to one of our art experts for more information on figurative sculpture artists.
Learn more about all the services our gallery offers to give you an enriching art experience, as well as some of our excellent financing options.