|Sculpture Thoughts Reviews Bibliography Biography Video Contact Us|
Four Face Mobile (part of original plaster),1989
Cast bronze, antique black
patina, aluminum, and
Approx. 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 x 4 feet
Excerpted from a lecture given at Grounds for Sculpture in conjunction with the exhibition "Premonitions in Retrospect: Strong Cuevas," 1999.
I was in a library at home. A friend of mine was showing me some snapshots he had taken. I have no idea why or what they were about. Everything has gone, except the memory of one snapshot of a Maillol cast of a reclining nude in the hallway of a foundry. My friend wasn't particularly interested in art, so I don't expect the other pictures were of art works. In any case, the only thing I remember is that one picture and I remember saying either out loud or to myself, but as if it were worlds away from me, "Oh, what a delicious life." About ten years later that life became mine.
I began at the Art Students League with John Hovannes in the early 60s. An American refugee from Ismir (Smyrna), a refugee from the Turkish persecution, he was an unusual man. He told a story about a teacher he had had at the Beaux Arts school in Paris where he had spent a little time before coming to America. The teacher opened the door of the classroom where the students were modelling clay, walked to the other side of the room and went out another door. Looking back just before closing it, he said to the students: "Messieurs, continuez." Mr. Hovannes was not like that. He taught.
Mr. Hovannes was a specialist at teaching carving both wood and stone. After six months of copying the model in clay, he set me to carving stone. Taking me aside, he said, "Now, a little more imagination, a little more composition, you carve!" I had marching orders. I went out, bought a piece of marble, two by three feet, harder than he had expected and began to carve a complete body, hands, feet, face and all, leaning against a tree like an Indian deity. I think I broke the nose, but otherwise it turned out well and the achievement got me over many fears.
Copyright © 2000 Strong-Cuevas. All rights reserved.