The shock of the real!

I've attached at the bottom of this post, a great short documentary on the work of 2 hyper-realist sculptors, John De Andrea (whose work I haven't seen in the 'flesh') and Duane Hanson (whose work I have.)

Hanson's work, reminds me in particular of the visual and emotional 'charge' I get from the very best realist photography. Paul Strand's photograph 'Blind Woman' (below) is a good example of what I mean.


'Blind Woman' (1916)

The label she is wearing and the disfiguration of her eyes are constant reminders of her blindness. You want to look away. To not have to look but Paul Strand already has looked. You can now see what he saw and what she can't.

It seems wrong to want to look but the photograph is there as evidence and can't be undone.

It may seem cruel. To want to look. To make art out of someone else's life. Particularly someone who can't protest and was in all regards defenceless and not aware of what had just taken place.

And yet. The power of what he saw. Of being able to look and understand what he saw is there permanently.

I feel the same way about Duane Hanson's sculptures. To be able to walk so close to sculptures of people who are casts (replicas) of 'real people' carries the same guilty charge. But here, because they are in 3 dimensions, the effect on perception is dramatic.

And personal. To be able to look and stare and examine another human being at close proximity. But with no chance, no possibility of your stare being returned or your gaze confronted.

Just like Paul Strand's 'Blind Woman' the experience of looking so closely and inimately at art that mirrors so closely our own sense of reality and mortality can be an uncomfortable but worthwhile experience.

Enjoy the video. And if you can, go and see the sculptures for yourself.

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