Solids and planes

untitled Lee Bontecou mobile
Untitled Sculpture by Lee Bontecou

I was inspired by an untitled sculpture by artist Lee Bontecou. This sculpture is a unique mixture of welded steel, porcelain, canvas, wire, and mesh. Spheres and curvilinear planes radiate from a central porcelain sphere with a deep hole in it. In this piece the artist highlights hierarchy through the use of various sizes of porcelain spheres and curvilinear metal planes. The curvilinear planes also show a great deal of thought about negative shapes (figure A) where the planes seem to be pressing in on central sphere. The entire piece suggests a large amount of movement using both vertical and horizontal planes. She varies her spatial interval throughout the piece giving it more depth (figure B).

In this piece she uses the dynamic combination of curvilinear planes and various sizes of spheres to create a symphony of movement. The hierarchy of spheres and planes creates an illusion of space and negative space that twist through the space rather than staying on a single level. The illusion makes it seem as though the parts are spinning through space, revolving around the central sphere. It was the overall dynamics of this piece that led me to try to recreate elements of it.

In my piece, I decided to diverge from her design and keep it simple with two curvilinear planes and two solids. My first solid was a centralized sphere, the smallest part of the form. I used the sphere as a place where the curvilinear planes could meet and interact as they overlap with the sphere. The top plane is the largest part of my form. It connects the sphere to the larger solid by overlapping with a notch. This sets the smaller plane into a position of coming into contact with the large solid as well. They connect corner to side. The attitude of the two planes creates a sense of movement in the shape. The planes create open spaces where they connect to the sphere. Between the four forms it creates a closed area that could also resemble a hole that works with the hole in each plane (figure C). Those three holes offer another implied sense of movement. Where she used separate though corresponding planes with notches, I chose to include a notch in the larger plane and two in the smaller plane. I used a single sphere rather than many spheres. My second solid was unlike anything in the Untitled mobile.  The solid is similar to both the curvilinear planes and the sphere.

To create my form, I used several aspects that were similar to Lee Bontecou’s untitled sculpture. I used curvilinear planes similar to hers. The curve of this piece added a presence to my much smaller design in a similar way that the untitled mobile added presence with the number of pieces. Hierarch was very important in Lee Bontecou’s sculpture. I tried to offer similar hierarchy by varying the sizes of each piece in my design. The top plane is by far the largest and the spherical solid is much smaller.

My sculpture created some difficult spots during crafting. The first hurdle I ran into was what to change, and how to change it, to make it uniquely mine. I tackled this in several ways. The first thing I did was spend several minutes looking at various pictures of Lee Bontecou’s sculpture taken from several different angles. This gave me a better understanding of the range of hierarchy and spatial interval she used. I wanted to be able to create something that shared the same kind of principles of hierarchy and interval because they are important to create the beautiful movement of the piece. During this initial observation, I noted the separate planes that were notched (Figure D). I borrowed the idea of notched planes but rather than have two planes, one notched and one not notched, I decided to include the notches in the larger planes (Figure E).

The next issue I ran into during the creation of this design was how to make the planes and solids interact. Lee Bontecou’s mobile connected with wires and used a lot of spatial interval. Some planes were vertical while others were horizontal. Everything related to the central sphere. I chose to continue the concept of relating everything to a central sphere but instead of having space between the planes and spheres I made them overlap. By overlapping the planes and the sphere and creating a more solid connection I vastly changed the dynamic while keeping the spatial intervals in other ways.

Overall, I enjoyed this assignment. I found that I had no trouble creating something entirely different by finding aspects that I liked in something else.


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