The N.Y. artist adapts CNC-technologies and traditional craft to push the physical and conceptual boundaries of stone carving
„Barry X Ball: Remaking Sculpture“ is the title of an exhibition at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas, Texas until April 19, 2020. The exhibition will be the first in the United States to survey more than 20 years of the highly technical but classically-inspired work of the New York artist.
Since 1997, Barry X Ball has adapted innovative technologies and traditional techniques to make work that pushes the physical and conceptual boundaries of sculpture. The artist reinvents traditional sculptural formats and existing art historical landmarks using state-of-the-art, 3-D digital scanning technology, computer-aided design software and CNC milling machines, in combination with centuries-old craft techniques requiring thousands of hours of detailed handwork.
Rendered in semi-precious materials such as Belgian Black marble, Golden Honeycomb calcite, and Mexican and Iranian onyx, Ball takes advantage of the unique properties of each, allowing irregularities and flaws in the stones to complicate the surfaces and suggest natural deterioration or destructive intervention.
Barry X Ball’s interest in the art canon extends to his series „Masterpieces“, in which he reimagines classical and modernist works. Ball collaborates with renowned collections around the world to scan sculptures, and then, using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine, he carves a slab or block of stone until the shape of the figure from the scan forms. Finally, he hand-carves and polishes minute details into it.
Works in the exhibition that consider such materiality and subject matter when recreating masterpieces include „Pietà“, after Michelangelo Buonarroti’s Rondanini Pietà, „Envy/Purity“, after Giusto Le Court’s La Invidia and Antonio Corradini’s La Purità, „Sleeping Hermaphrodite“ after Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s „Sleeping Hermaphroditus“, and more.
His „Portraits“ are a series of evocative busts created from digital scans of himself and his colleagues, their concepts and emotions often theatrically depicted through the stretching of skin, the translucence of stones used, and contrasting expressions of calmness and agony. Works from Portraits are rendered in semi-precious stones such as Belgian Black Marble, Golden Honeycomb calcite, and Mexican and Iranian onyx, and then hand-carved to emphasize a pattern or texture on the face that capture both the digital footprint left behind by the milling process and the art historical references embedded in each of them—from the Italian Renaissance conventions of depicting religious scenes and symbols to the Greek tradition of displaying „floating” portraits in stone supported by rods.
The exhibition is made possible with leading support by Elizabeth Redleaf.
Source: Nasher Sculpture Center: „Barry X Ball: Remaking Sculpture“, until April 19, 2020
(20.02.2020, USA: 02.20.2020)