Formal analysis

Topics: Sculpture, Auguste Rodin, The Walking Man Pages: 7 (1609 words) Published: June 4, 2014
Meng Yuan
Professor George Baker
TA Megan Metcalf
Art History 54
Formal Analysis: Sculpture
With significant differences in shapes, volumes, texture and settings, Auguste Rodin’s Walking Man and Richard Serra’s T.E.U.C.L.A., two conspicuous sculptures in UCLA sculpture garden, both demonstrate the combination of movement and stillness to viewers. Though, Rodin’s sculpture mainly represents it through a posture of a body in motion, while Serra tries to represent it by creating an immobile metal-like mass. Rodin’s sculpture represents a bronzy man’s strong body without head and arms. The man is standing on the ground, opening his legs. It is two-meters high, bigger and stronger than ordinary people. On the contrary, Serra creates a brick red, nameless giant object, which is a four-meters high, slant and hollow cylinder with one-meter gap on its wall.

At first glance, nothing seems strange besides the extremely brawny muscles that exist throughout his whole body. However, when having a closer observation, I notice that his upper body is facing towards an abnormal direction. As all know, while walking, one’s arm’s direction should be different from that of his legs. To be more specific, when his right arm is toward ahead during walking, his right leg should be back from the body. However, in Rodin’s sculpture, the Walking Man acts abnormally: his right arm, which has been removed, put forward his body, as well as his right leg does. Also, the man’s waist is bending to the left, which makes it looks like that his right arm is bearing weight. Looking down at his legs, we can also see the contour of his leg-muscles. The lines are curved, making the muscle of his lap protrude from his skin. Walking to his behind area, we can see the clear contours the muscles of back and the curved line that shows the man’s back is bending toward his chest. These features show us, although his arms are removed, that the sculpture may push something while walking. Every muscle of the body, from head to toe, is clearly carved on the uneven body surface, and these muscles all seem tighten up, giving strength- even his muscle of buttock does. It is tightening up, causing a small area of concavity on it. Moreover, the ground on which his feet stand, recesses from the surrounding area because of pressure from his feet, proving that his body was bearing force from external. I also notice that Rodin exaggerates the feet, which look extraordinarily big- it is an artistic way to show this body is. By distorting this body and removing the arms and head, Rodin shows his concentration on the body shape that represents the state of motion, and his willing to represent the strength, instead of any particular personality of a man. Rodin passes the dynamic power to viewers through this sculpture, which depicts a strangely motional body in a particular moment.

When standing in front of Serra’s T.E.U.C.L.A., one must feel the pressure from it since it is about four meters high. Unlike the complicated muscle lines on Walking Man, simple curves, two thick sheets consist Serra’s sculpture. It stands there, motionlessly, making viewers recognize the tininess of their own bodies. Making the one-meter wide gap become the central of my visual field and observing it as a two-dimensional flat, I see this sculpture as a parallelogram with two lines vertical to the ground. Ingeniously, I find this sculpture “change” while walking around it: when standing on the left of it, if we regard the side, which the gap stands in the central, as the front, this sculpture becomes a trapezoid as well as when we stand on the right of it; however, the upper edge is longer than the lower edge when we look from its right side, in contrast to its left; when standing behind it, it becomes a parallelogram again, but leans toward a different direction. It is what it is and has no models, unlike Walking Man. This lifeless object, stands there, and shows viewers...
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