Michele Celeste’s Griffins
Ascoli Satriano is a small city located in the North of Puglia, in the province of Foggia, founded by the ancient people of the Dauni and subsequently included in the group of cities of the Magna Graecia ruled by the city of Taranto.
Its history is full of events but in 1978 a group of clandestine archeological finders, the so-called “tombaroli”, discovered in the countryside of Ascoli Satriano, a hypogeal (underground) tomb with a very important set of funeral furnishings.
The tomb certainly belonged to one of the hegemonic noble families of the area, during the 4th century BC, probably of Macedonian or Epirot origins.
Among the magnificent fundings, the most important one, was a wonderful sculptural group of coloured Aphrodisia marble, a complex triangular sculpture of polychrome marble consisting of a table support (trapezophoros) with two griffins biting a deer.
The tomb also contained a ritual basin (podanipter), portraying the scene of the transportation of the weapons, forged by the god Hephaestus for Achilles, a pair of shelves and a large marble crater which retains traces of polychromy.
The extraordinary sculpture, used as a bracket for a ritual table, is 95 cm high, 148 cm long and consists of a pair of “GRIFFINS” with the body of a lion and the head of a eagle with a purple-red crest on the head and blue wings spread upwards.
The two figures are represented in hunting action while they block on the ground with their claws a doe, whose face emerges, with its front legs bent and the rear ones fully extended.
After many vicissitudes, the stolen artifacts ended up being exhibited in the Getty Museum at Los Angeles and finally in 2010, the entire sculptural group returned home to find its natural location in the Archaeological Museum of Ascoli Satriano thus becomes the “City of Griffins” and to give greater prominence to this extraordinary novelty, a competition was launched to equip the main square of the town with a new monument replacing the existing one.
Michele Celeste, a young sculptor, won the competition with a project that aimed to reproduce, in bronze with his personal and innovative style, the extraordinary Griffins as the characterizing element of the new monument destined to be the highlight of the new square.
After modelling the sculpture in clay in his laboratory at Rome, he thus move to Pietrasanta, where it is made reproduced in plaster and silico rubber, by Alessandro Petrucci. Then came into contact with Mariani Artistic Foundry to bring his work to life.
In this process it was certainly crucial the meeting of Michele Celeste with Adolfo and Nicola Agolini, who, having seen the project and assessing its effectiveness and expressive power, declare themselves very happy to contribute to its realization.
It was then proceeded to model the sculpture in clay with dimensions fully corresponding to the Greek model, while the base was raised about 2 cm in view of its placement on a column, as requested by the client.
The geometries and details of the work, such as the number of feathers and wing feathers, were duly respected as well as the dimensions H 97 cm, W 155 cm, D 25 cm at the base and 40 cm at the chest of the Griffins.
The bronze sculpture had a total weight of 250 kg and it was chosen to give a greenish patina obtained by the copper oxide applied to dark bronze.
But the real turning point was the special formula studied by Nicola Agolini, to facilitate the casting of the piece, a formula that was more suitable to the nature of the sculpture and its peculiar characteristics.
The touching up was performed with chisel and mechanical tools, to enhance the details and the geometrical finishes, allowing the light to flow on the surfaces without encountering unwanted roughness or deformations of the surfaces.
The creative process saw the clay model broken down into different parts, like the wings, which were created and shaped separately.
The artist worked personally on the finishing up of the waxes and the subsequent assembly of the pieces, in strict cooperation with the Foundry, obtaining two separate blocks to be cast.
After the lost wax casting with the Shell method, or ceramic mold, the bronzes obtained from the process, were sandblasted.
Some details were made in full bronze due to their load-bearing function.
The weldings were carried out in bronze with Tig technology, while the more complicated areas were worked on with silver welding.
Mechanical tools and chisels were used to clean up the welds.
The long and complex finishing up of the piece, occurred respecting the methods of the ancient Greek sculptural tradition, which involves a process very close to goldsmithing, which makes it possible to obtain a smooth and well-defined surface, through the skilful use of chisels, goldsmith’s files, burins and abrasive papers.
After that, some steel bars were welded into the base of the sculpture to create an anchoring frame, on which threads have been made and placed on the column capital by steel pins.
The last step saw the patina being applied by the artists and the artisans working as a unique nucleus and after the material cooling off, neutral wax was applied to the bronze to protect the patina and give the sculpture a great shining look.
Michele Celeste’s Griffins
For all images #photocreditMicheleCeleste
Sculpture made by: Michele Celeste
Contacts: email@example.com tel: +39 3279088658
Margrete Queen of Denmark
Hommage to Margrete, the Queen of the North.
Margrete the 1st was Queen of Denmark from 1375 to 1412, a long peaceful period of prosperity.
The year is 1402 and America is yet to be discovered.
Margrete has achieved what no man has managed before: She has gathered Denmark, Norway and Sweden into a peace-oriented union, which she singlehandedly rules through her young, adopted son, Erik.
The union is continuously beset by enemies however and Margrete is planning a marriage between Erik and an English princess to enforce her rule and her reputation.
Because an alliance with England should have secured the union status as an emerging European power but, there is always a but… in any stories, her plans get marred by an undercurrent conspiracy that might tear Margrete’ s visionary plans apart.
It seems and sounds like a movie and it is, since this is the trailer of a film released this year that tells the story of the extraordinary figure of a Danish queen of the fourteenth century: Margaret the 1st of Denmark, Sweden and Norway.
A movie made by a great movie director, Charlotte Sieling, a Danish actress and film director who known for The Man in 2017.
To commemorate and celebrate her life and her deeds, made even more extraordinary in a historical period when women had little to no power in the political world, an equestrian sculpture was dedicated to her in the Danish city of Roskilde, whose cathedral contains the mortal remains of Danish rulers.
The municipality of Roskilde commissioned an equestrian statue of Margaret I of Denmark to Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen in the 1890s. She completed the first model in about 1897 but she could never complete it due to lack of funding.
In 2006, the equestrian statue was finally completed by #FonderiaArtisticaMariani in #Pietrasanta and the splendid work was based on a plaster model carefully kept in the storages of the Roskilde Museum and sent to Italy to have it reproduced.
The statue is nowadays standing at the middle of the road to Copenhagen (Københavnsvej) reminding the future generations what a woman can accomplish when driven by love and passion and intelligence.
Thank you Margrete for your being such a great woman.
Making a bronze from start to finish: Robert Glen and his longtime relationship with Fonderia Artistica Mariani.
Only those who actually get in touch with bronze in their working daily life may really realize how much it is involved in the making of a bronze.
Robert Glen is of them and one of the few that have been working in bronze for such a long time that himself defines it “… as an ages old process… still carried out by artisans in the foundry”.
Many and various are the stages involved in the process that sees the original model become a piece of art.
Robert Glen living in the bush for ever, travels a great distance from where he makes his model in his camp, in Africa, to the foundry in Italy and firmly states, from his years long knowledge, that the process his bronzes go through from start to finish, is what makes them perfect.
His starting point is plasticine or wax, with a metal support and his research always takes place in the large and wonderful array of wildlife that surrounds his bush camp.
Living there is a choice, a happy choice, that however makes it difficult to transport the models to Italy.
Transportation may sometimes be or become, therefore, a delicate matter and Robert often prefers to make his own molds in his camp studio where he uses silicone, synthetic rubber, for the mold and a jacket of plaster of Paris for the support.
Here is a mold packaged up and ready for shipment to the Mariani foundry in Italy that Robert himself has loaded on his van, ready for the long trip.
The trip is always an adventure: the drive is about 250km, to Iringa town to send it off to Italy, where the mold will see its life into a piece of art.
Sometimes Robert gives himself the chance to come to Italy and follow up in person all the procedures that make his pieces into bronze and it is always an interesting interaction of ideas and suggestions between our artisans and himself, with a language that it is not always carried out in a perfect English, but a language, the artisans’ language, made of gestures and touch that brings to life the artist’s concept through the artisans’ hands.
Here they are discussing a wax copy of one of Robert’s models, made from the mold he had sent previously to Fonderia Artistica Mariani and it is the first stage of many, time consuming, steps that will take us to the casting final result.
Robert himself often describes it using these exact words: “Each wax model goes through a complicated process of first being assembled with air vents, runners and a funnel for the bronze to pass through. Then they are dipped in ceramic mixture like thick cream several times, and dried.”
And this is the model after been dipped several times in ceramic and dried where the pipes you see here are the runners and air vents for the bronze to flow through.
The ceramic mold that comes out of it, contains wax and it is then to be baked at a very high temperature that makes the wax runs out leaving a hollow space where it used to be.
Bronze is then heated in the crucible and carried to where the mold is placed into a sand bed ready for the pour.
Then the magic takes place and once the bronze is cast, the above mentioned pipes are cut off from the model and chased over to remove all traces of their existence.
This is the precise moment when the real magic takes place and every time it always a new time: the bronze is heated in the crucible to 1150 degrees Centigrade and every single move made by the artisans involved is calculated and precise.
No space to mistake is left.
No space to human error can be allowed.
Every single process is very, very crucial and fundamental and must be carried out according to a well, longtime established plan where men and technique work together to a mutual consent.
And here you are with the final result: the bronze sculpture ready for display, after metal finishing by hand and a patina added with the use of acids and heat.
What else can be said but that we are so proud to read Robert’s saying :“I have done my bronze casting at the Mariani foundry in Pietrasanta, Tuscany, Italy, for the past 33 years. Their quality has always been outstanding, and it is a pleasure to work amongst such craftsmen”.
MAJA LISA ENGELHARDT
Maja’s innate artistic talent found its spring in a childhood spent among the wild landscape of Denmark where nature became to her the real and only source of life and inspiration.
Her beginnings were certainly rough and difficult and she had to wait till the age of 16 to be able to see some light at the end of her tunnel, without ever losing her beautiful smile.
Salvation came through Kierkegaard’s book, Works of Love, that she found in the library at Kalundborg and inspired her to take the Christian message seriously, successfully leading her to forgive the past she went through.
From that point on, she was able to enjoy a more productive life and, a year later, she entered the Funen Art Academy, https://detfynskekunstakademi.dk/en/ where she graduated in 1980.
Painting was her first creative act and her images were essentially abstract from the very start but always containing memories of the Danish landscape with strong connections to nature expressed in bright, rich colours ranging from solidly sketched sections to hazy, almost weightless fragments.
She did not begin to exhibit until she was 29 although she had begun to draw and paint from an early age, and she received immediate recognition in 1985 when she first exhibited at the Nikolaj Gallery in Copenhagen, which was followed in 1987 by her participation at Copenhagen’s Charlottenborg and Paris’s Grand Palais.
The path of faith led Maja to a spiritual and physical healing that brought her to forgive her mother and father and find a new joyful life for herself and her family.
In 2014 she was commissioned by an American friend a work to create a sculpted cross for Cornerstone University’s new Christ Chapel space and Maja’s approach for this particular sculpture, was to portray a risen Christ through the symbolism of an empty cross, the same that can be found in many other sacred spaces across the world.
Maja herself noted, “a cross with a Christ figure on it – I could never relate to it… I have made a cross, which is a cross of joy, a resurrection cross, life’s tree, joy’s tree.” Her focus on the resurrection of Christ’s story, versus the suffering of the cross, is for Maja the most important part.
She notes that “if there was no resurrection then we would be not here, we would not be believers.”
She has been working with Fonderia Artistica Mariani, for quite a long time using various materials to make her models: from clay to plaster and, for the final piece, from bronze or white bronze to other experimental alloys till golden plaster.
The finishing varies according to the final result requested, sometimes it has patina, sometimes the piece is simply brushed, sometimes it is finished with golden leaf technique.
Huge churches doors as high as 4 metres, as well as panels or altarpieces make part of her production at Fonderia Artistica Mariani in a continuum of works that convey the same strong faith in Christ’s resurrection in the language of joy and life.
FROM LIFE TO ART: MAJA LISA ENGELHARDT
Michael Kvium was Born in the east of Jutland and studied painting at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts under Albert Mertz and Stig Brogger.
His paintings and graphic works often resemble comic strip art or extensions of 17th-century Baroque paintings and depict the more negative aspects of Western culture according to Kvium’s perspective.
Motifs include grotesque monsters, half man half woman, sometimes approaching self-portraits.
In 1981, together with Erik A. Frandsen and Christian he was one of the cofounders of Værkstedet Værst, a collaborative workshop for performance art.
From the 1980s, his works started to include virus-like shapes as part of the growth cycles. Works from the 1990s also include bandaged figures depicting paralysis and claustrophobia as can be seen in Kor (1991).
Solo exhibitions at Aros Aarhus Kunstemuseum (2006) and Ordupgaard (2007) have included large works evoking relationships with the landscape and nature.
Kvium’s works are included in the collections of many of Denmark’s museums and galleries and his collaboration with Fonderia Artistica Mariani (www.fonderiamariani.com), expressed itself at its highest, with the work cast in bristre, patinated bronze, that was mounted on of the atrium pillars of the
CBC (Copenhagen Business School), entitled SOCIAL PATTERN, where a two pieces sculpture, weighing 360 kilos, was installed with the help of our artisans that flew over to Denmark on that specific purpose.
The sculpture adheres to the columns with almost invisible joints made by our experts, who worked with a special technique that made it possible for the joints to “disappear” from the spectator’s sight.
In order to achieve this specific result a 1/1 height column was built at the Fonderia Mariani to test the tenability of the whole project that shows a pattern of continuous human shaped figures that move from up to down and from down to up in a sort of intestine path.
Its aim is, using Michael Kvium’s own words, to stimulate a reflection on the relationship between the “us” and the “them” in modern society.
Bravo! Fonderia Mariani is so proud to have worked with you!
Michael Kvium at the Copenhagen Business School
Born and bred in the Venice area, Plazzotta came very soon under the aegis of the great Manzù, who exerted a strong influence over his work.
The war abruptly stopped his art studies and having volunteered for the regiment of the Bersaglieri, he was sent to North Africa, where he fought bravely until he was sent back to Italy.
With Mussolini’s fall, he broke up with the fascist regime and founded a partisan formation that led to his capture and imprisonment.
Once the war was over and he got released from prison, his artistic life started again and he could complete his studies at Brera, beginning a career that saw him working mainly in sculpture with a deep sense of urgency due to the awareness of the difficulties that, in the past, had made him started sculpting so late in life.
Plazzotta never shied away from difficulties either technical or symbolic and always succeeded in making bold statements with his art.
He spent most of his working life between London and Pietrasanta where he came to cast hi sculptures at Fonderia Artistica Mariani and had a personal studio, reaping the advantages of an environment where artists and artisans worked alongside each other, mixing up their talents with one common aim only: to create high quality pieces.
But Pietrasanta to him meant also marble and he tried his hand at carving, executing a large number of marble and onyx sculptures that enriched his prolific production.
According to critics, he was a modeller at heart and found in wax the perfect means to express himself,
but he loved also exploring the realm of acrylics and enjoyed himself in the production of a series of etchings that made a break from his usual sculptural idiom.
His sculpture has long been the subject of a critical controversy, that never questioned his technical accomplishment, that was always beyond criticism whether he was using bronze or silver cast from wax, or whether he was working in the fields of engraving and etching or marble; the main controversy was based on his preference to use more traditional subjects and models, so contrasting and rejecting the anti-representational conventions of modernity.
And this was clear enough from the very beginning, when he came to Fonderia Mariani and worked with our artisans on his Crucifixion in which the body of Christ serves also as part of the cross where he hangs on; or when he worked on the sculpture of Nureyev in 1979, where the dynamic image is a real embodiment of beauty and express in full the vigour of the human body.
There are so many stories to tell about Plazzotta ‘s living and working in close contact with us at Fonderia Mariani, but more than the stories, there are his sculptures that remind us of his time here and the long hours spent modelling in our studio.