Stasis in Sculpture

David Stands, but Unique Forms of Continuity in Space Rocks

Umberto Boccioni's Unique Forms of Continuity in Space at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York City. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

As much as I love Michelangelo’s David (that stone! that body!), it’s a work of art that’s made to be adored. And indeed it is. David just stands there, commanding our attention. But what I love about more contemporary sculpture is its potential for action. Even Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog sculpture suggests movement to me, the possibility that those balloons just might burst if placed in the wrong hands, although of course we know that they won’t.  His living sculpture, Puppy, on display a number of years ago at Rockefeller Plaza (as was Split-Rocker), actually did move, however slowly given that it consisted of living plants.

Michelangelo's David in Florence (Firenze), Italy. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Michelangelo’s David in Florence (Firenze), Italy. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

The sculpture I probably love most for its sense of movement is Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space on display at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art. Originally created in that seminal art year of 1913, the Futurist sculpture by the Italian artist seems perpetually in motion even as it is just as motionless as Michelangelo’s much-adored work.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace on display at the Louvre, Paris. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

The Winged Victory of Samothrace on display at the Louvre, Paris. Photo credit: L. Tripoli

Like the Winged Victory of Samothrace in the Louvre, Unique Forms lacks arms. There was to be no victory for Boccioni, though; he died in action in World War I. His sculptures, however, live on.

—Lori Tripoli

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