Art History Essay

The development of modern sculpture is characterized by the emergence of unexpected artistic approaches and many works created by sculptures are original and unique. In this respect, it is possible to refer to Rodin’s “Walking Man” and Serra’s “TEUCLA”. These two works are quite different at first glance but they have a deep impact on the audience due to their originality and specific view of an artist on his work, though which he expresses his vision of the world and art. In actuality, Rodin’s Walking Man” and Serra’s “TUCLA” are placed in the same setting that allows the audience to compare the two works of art and develop their opinion about the works.  Obviously, both works are original and unique, but still they have certain similarities, which, though, may be traced at the thematic level, whereas visually the difference between the two works is striking.

First of all, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that Rodin apparently attempted to create the work which could link the past, classical art of ancient times and modernity. This is why he focuses on the human body and his “Walking Man” is the manifestation his interpretation of classical ancient art forms which he actually puts in the contemporary environment. The work being created in the late 19th century, marks the strong trend of the artist to show that art is truly eternal and his sculpture, uniting both classical and modernist elements, perfectly illustrates this idea of the sculpture. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that Rodin focuses on the beauty of human body intentionally because such attention to natural beauty of humans was typical for the past epochs whereas the author attempt to link them together with the modernity. On creating his “Walking Man”, Rodin stressed the eternity of art as well as subjects artists depicted in their creative work. The “Walking Man” is created in dark black color, which contrast to the light color of the ground where the sculpture is located.  In such a way, the dark sculpture looks bright in the light background. At the same time, does not have the head and hands. Even though it is obvious that the man takes a step forward and he is walking. But it is impossible to understand what his intentions are because his face is hidden and the audience cannot see the composure and expression on his face. Similarly, the audience cannot see gestures the person makes while he is walking. Therefore, viewers should rather guess what the “Walking Man” is actually doing. Anyway, it is unclear why he is walking, where and what he is walking to. In fact, viewers can only make their presuppositions about the absent parts of the sculpture. On the other hand, the absence of the head and hands evokes the imagination of the audience and people are encouraged to complement the sculpture in their imagination.

In this respect, it should be said that Serrra’s “TEUCLA” represents quite a different approach of the artist to his work because “TEUCLA” is definitely the piece of modern art, which is quite different from classical art and, at first glance, has little in common with Rodin’s work. In actuality, Serra’s “TEUCLA”, intentionally or not, distances from classical forms and focuses his attention on the material, which is the product of human technologies, where as the presence of human in his work is rather implicit than actual, whereas human is the primary concern of Rodin in his “Walking Man”. In fact, Serra’s TEUCLA is created of corten steel that makes the sculpture look like a product of the urban culture as if it is a part of the element of a large city.

At the same time, the “TEUCLA” is created in dark brown color. The color of the “TEUCLA” contrasts to the light, almost white color of the ground. As a result, this sculpture produces the similar effect on the audience as the “Walking Man”. However, the “TEUCLA” is not as dark as the “Walking Man”. Nevertheless, the contrast of colors between the sculpture and the background makes the “TEUCLA” eye-catching and attract viewers.

On the other hand, the form of both sculptures is different. To put it more precisely, the “Walking Man” is proportional, even though the head and hands are absent. The body is almost perfect. At any rate, the body is proportional and meets the norm. In stark contrast, the “TEUCLA” has a wrong form of a circle which edges and bent from side to side. It seems as if the “TEUCLA” is about to fall down, whereas the “Walking Man” is standing firmly on his legs and is moving forward. In addition, viewers can enter inside the “TEUCLA”, while they can only go around the “Walking Man” that makes the two sculptures very different because there is internal space in the “TEUCLA”, whereas the “Walking Man” could be viewed only from the exterior.

Unlike Rodin, who still keeps admiring with human body and who is inclined to classical forms and sculpture, Serra wants to show that people have changed the world around them consistently and not they are in a kind of trap. No wonder, he creates the corten steel circle leaving space for the audience to enter inside. As a person enters the TEUCLA he or she can hardly get rid of the impression of being trapped within the circle of corten steel.

At the same time, the work created by Serra is located in the garden as well as the work created by Rodin. However, the location of both works in the natural environment has absolutely different effects on the audience. To put it more precisely, Rodin’s “Walking Man” seems to be quite natural being placed in the natural environment. Moreover, such setting is quite symbolic because the natural environment surrounding the “Walking Man” implies that the man is a part of nature, whereas his naked body makes him even closer to nature. It seems as if the sculpture appeals to the audience to return back to nature, to original, natural life of people in the natural environment. In this regard, Rodin’s “Walking Man” is absolutely different from Serra’s “TEUCLA” because Serra shows a piece of the industrial production which reveal the widening gap between the natural environment of people and their life in the civilized world. In fact, Serra’s “TEUCLA” contrasts to the natural environment in which the corten steel is placed. In all probability, for some viewers this work looks absurd in the natural environment and this is probably the main effect the sculpture wanted to achieve with his work because he shows how absurd is the progress of technologies and science. In such a context and interpretation of Serra’s work, “TEUCLA” grows more and more similar to Rodin’s “Walking Man”.

Nevertheless, it is hardly possible to view these two works as similar because differences dominate when both works are compared. The attempt of Rodin to preserve the connection with antiquity may be quite symbolic, but it makes his work totally different from Serra’s “TEUCLA”. At the same time, Serra’s “TEUCLA” is entirely focused on technologies and humans are presented in his work implicitly as creators, manufacturers, as beings who attempt to take control over their life and environment. In contrast, Rodin’s “Walking Man”, being probably strong, is defenseless in face of nature.

Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that both works of art are very symbolic and interpretation of meaning of both works can vary consistently. In all probability, each viewer can interpret either work in his or her original way.

Nevertheless, it is hardly possible to deny the fact that Rodin’s “Walking Man” and Serra’s “TEUCLA” are quite different, in spite of implicit similarities. In fact, similarities appear only when the artists’ messages and ideas are taken into consideration. At the visual level, the works are absolutely different. Even the views presented by artists in their works differ significantly because Rodin focuses on the man, whereas Serra focuses on technology. In other words, Rodin focuses on the creator, whereas Serra on products created by the man.

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