|Work by Dominique Labauvie|
These sheets of steel were cut into long, slender strips just a little bigger than the rivet holes, giving them a light, airy feel, and some transparency, things one normally does not associate with steel. Laubavie's process begins on the floor. Materials are laid out on the concrete floor or a slab outside, composed, and welded together into gestural forms possessing an unusual measure of spontaneity and liveliness. Laubavie talks about music, literature, calligraphy and choreographed space in his work. He and Erika are cultured people. A normal perception of sculpture is that of a 3D object occupying space, projecting into it. Sculpture, being 3D, relates to its space, but like other art forms can extend outside its own form using space and time appropriating and using them as part of the work.
|Dominique Labauvie, "Galileo's Moons". Photo courtesy of Bleu Acier|
"Galileo's Moons", like "Venus Walks", has round "feet". These are steel cannonballs made by a firm in Illinois. Note that there are four feet/balls, the same as the number of moons that Galileo discovered orbiting the planet Jupiter. Galileo dutifully named them after his benefactor, who renamed them "Medicea Sidera" (Medicean Stars). The names that we know them by, Io, Ganymede, Europa and Callisto (all Zeus' lovers) came from Simon Darius, who independently discovered these same four moons within days of Galileo. By discovering that Jupiter had what he thought were planets orbiting it, Galileo came to the conclusion that the Ptolemaic model (earth as the hub of the universe) was incorrect. Just a few years later, Galileo's moon observations were used by Ole Roemer to ascertain the speed of light with a small margin of error in 1676. This sculpture is in some ways akin to a planetary model with a tall vertical axis standing in for Jupiter's gravity -- and Zeus' ties to four of his lovers. Between the cannonball lunar feet and the holes we get a sense of rhythm and repetition. If steel could sing, this would be one of its chants.
|Dominique Laubavie, "Venus Walks"|
This work has a stride alluding to the walking in the title. When Venus walked, all around her Spring Followed: Flowers bloomed, birds sang and followed, fruit grew and ripened on the vine. She was like an axis (note the axis in the sculpture) of vitality to Nature. There's a poem by Shelley titled "Epipsychidion" in which he describes Venus Walking:
'Athwart that wintry wilderness of thorns
Flashed from her motion splendour like the morn's,
And from her presence life was radiated
Through the grey earth and branches bare and dead;
So that her way was paved and roofed above
With flowers as soft as thoughts of budding love;'
There is also at least one painting on this theme, inspired by the poem above. It is by Sir William Blake Richmond:
Venus is not just out for a stroll. She is in Love, the kind of love that disregards the rules (is there any other kind?) and on her way to meet her mortal lover, the Trojan Shepherd Anchises, who cowers in a mix of fear (of being turned into stone, as most mortals who dared gaze upon the Gods were), awe and lust. They will produce a child named Aeneas, ancestor of Rome.
There's also an astronomical angle to this work. Venus recently "walked across the sun" in a transit that will not be repeated in this century.
One might think that these two extraordinary sculptures are more than enough, but there's more.
|Erika Greenberg-Schneider with print from "Rock, Wood, Water, Earth"|
Dominique and Erika are two cultural treasures the Bay area is lucky to have in our midst. Their level of commitment, experience, and fluency in art is rare, and they are grounded, down to earth people. I want to thank them for an enchanting afternoon, and congratulate them for producing first-rate work.