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The Athlete, a Torso

Torso, tinted alabaster, 29cm(h)

The above and following images are of a torso that I recently finished.  The work was carved in alabaster.  Very often the sculptor produces a model first in clay or plaster to act as a guide for the carving.  The original clay sketch that I did for this piece had to be abandoned after discovering a fault in the stone.  So the resulting torso was carved directly.  The contrast created by the strong veining of the stone was distracting so I tinted the piece to harmonize the local coloring.

Side view

The challenge of creating a fragment is to infer the whole while expressing the essential.    The torso is the core shape of life, both physically and symbolically.  How the limbs are truncated are important to express both the whole proportion and the movement.

another view

Any work of art is the result of a series of choices.  The artist’s sensibility is expressed not only through execution, composition and bravura, but emphasis.  The female torso, beyond the prerequisite anatomical attributes, should express the ‘feminine.’  For me the essential of the feminine is in the approach to modeling.  A lot of sculptors today equate quality with ‘accuracy’ and ‘anatomical correctness.’  Unfortunately, the results are often schematic summations and/or particular topographical renderings of the female body.  The sensual, the supple and harmonious life force that the female represents are missing.   The ancients understood this and the perfect synthesis of form, function, purpose and reality are fundamental elements of what we now call the ‘Classical.’


Art after all is a manifestation of the divine emotion of love through beauty.  The  true ‘Classical’ is a set of priorities that reflects this.

Side view

This piece will be available at the Galleria Cipriani in Florence, Italy.  If you happen to be in the neighborhood, please come visit.

6 thoughts on “The Athlete, a Torso

  1. Congratulations, you have sculpted a masterpiece.
    When I viewed the first image I thought you were going to be discussing an ancient piece that you had recently photographed in a local museum!
    You are a true master of your art. Thank you.

    1. Thank you so very much Paul for your kind words. Being compared to the antique is a very generous compliment.

  2. really fascinating, I like it very much. franco

    1. Thank you Franco!

  3. Wow alot to chew on in this post! Appreciate the conviction with which you refer to Classical Art. For the unschooled what history would you recommend for reading that echoes the sentiments you have so ably expressed?

    1. Thank you, as always, for your thoughtful comment, Shane. The ‘Classical’ as I would like to define it goes beyond historical parameters of time and place and really is a set of principles. Thus the popular use in english when to referring to something as ‘a classic.’ There isn’t any one book that pinpoints this. The scholarly world is too overspecialized and fragmented. In regards to understanding the nude in western art, Kenneth Clark’s ‘The Nude’ is a must read. Joseph Campbell may be the next step in understanding why the nude is important. In fact, he strived to explain why art is important at all.

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