Friday, April 22, 2011

penny for your thoughts



Believe it or not, this is a piece by Canadian sculptor Evan Penny.  He creates his disturbingly realistic figures with silicone, pigment, hair and aluminum.  Several years ago, I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of his work at the Columbus Museum of Art.  The skill involved here is mind boggling.  Penny's sculptures literally grab his viewers, stop them dead in their tracks.  Columbus has one of his larger than lifesize pieces, Back of Kelly, 2005, as part of their permanent collection. I recently saw it again, and snapped a few shots to share. The detail is astonishing, down to the blemishes, stray hairs and crusties behind the ears. Genius, in a very real way.

The acquiring of more information only makes things more complex and adds layers of uncertainty. The goal isn't realism; the byproduct is. --Evan Penny

Back of Kelly, 2005, taken by me April 2011 at the Columbus Museum of Art

Back of Kelly, detail, click to embiggen, if you dare

66 comments:

  1. mildly unsettling, but fascinating...

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  2. wonderful stuff. his work reminds me of the oversized hyperrealistic sculpture of ron mueck.

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  3. Yes, his work is very much like Ron Mueck's, only not quite as large. Most of Penny's work is oversized, his largest piece being ten feet tall.

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  4. Yikes!
    Very realistic and clever and fascinating
    but NOT a joy to behold.....!
    Happy Easter

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  5. wow...interesting post. the pieces are a bit disturbing...

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  6. I'm freaked out, a bit. I guess my over-active imagination is thinking of all the ways a person could use these pieces to terrify me. Yikes!

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  7. oh dear, not my cup of tea

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  8. That exhibition would keep me in the building a long time. Fascinating!

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  9. It's arresting and disturbing at the same time. I was quite fascinated.

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  10. It is amazing what a artist can do....I would end up with something that looked like the elephant man....:-)

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  11. pass.

    but he's talented nonetheless.

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  12. I've just been on the internet and my mind is buzzing with developments. He is inspiring and I'm looking forward to reading more when I get back from France.
    You've had my thoughts and I've had your Penny. Thank you Tess.

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  13. They've been doing this for yonks at Madame Tussaud's. There it's simply for fun! What's the point, if it's not for people to say 'How Clever'!

    Sorry; clever, but why?

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  14. Holy cow, that's creepy. Very cool!

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  15. I find these quite scary really. Is it just me?

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  16. Cro, you might also ask why paint in the hyperrealistic or photorealistic style, when you could simply take a photo with a camera. I think it's an amazing art form.

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  17. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!

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  18. I saw this man's work in Florida a few years ago. We walked into this museum (my son took us) and there was this man standing there with his foot on the bench. He seemed glued to the scene in the courtyard and I wondered how long he could stand there like that as we walked around the corner. When we were coming back around I happened to see him standing there, still, and said something to my son. He smiled and we went over and had a close look. I still thought the guy was real. But then realized he wasn't real at all. What a puddle-jumped he would make.

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  19. As they used to say about Red Rose Tea..."Only in Canada you say?" Another dubious honour. I see that his work is coming to the AGO in fall of 2012. Not sure about this one. I clicked on "current works" in his bio and "Murray" is a scary dude!:) Thanks teach.

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  20. Well, I wouldn't purchase "Back of Kelly' - now, a real life "Back of David", perhaps....

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  21. Tess,

    This has that 'expressionist naturalism' I see in Lucien Freud's paintings.

    If they seem intrusive, creepily so, it's because when we are at rest or caught candidly . . . we are creepy, not the social selves we 'normally' provide.

    Gosh, I feel almost like watching a sitcom. But feel better facing my fears.

    Trulyfool

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  22. Ack, no, please don't do it! Not a sitcom!

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  23. Yes, I'm sure they move quietly around the galleries, late at night.

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  24. Amazing, but kind of disturbing at the same time...

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  25. Fascinating, I can't stop looking at them. Imagine in person they are really something incredible.

    I find this part of his quote intriguing..."The goal isn't realism; the byproduct is." I agree, genius in a very real way.

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  26. quite eerie, yet at the same time Penny's work begs to be touched...which I'm sure is verboten :)

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  27. Rene, you don't know how badly I wanted to reach out and touch it!

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  28. Like others, I find the works to be a bit disturbing, but the unparalleled skill of the artist is undeniable.

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  29. Wow, I definitely thought that first one was a real person

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  30. no matter the adjustments, treatments, care, maintenance, or cosmetic affectations we ascribe to we are mammals and it takes so little to uncover the surface of our being as scruffy, scurfy, dirty, raw, real. we are shocked by anyone who would obviate that and yet it is the skin (and hair) of us as anyone else would experience us. the real beauty - as you know tess - is quickly found when you choose to experience a person beneath the surface and discover poets, artists, lovers, insightful good beautiful souls living in this world through the great fortune of wearning a body not unlike those portrayed by penny. steven

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  31. What is his medium, I wonder? Is it plastic, rubber, wax, or what? If a person knew how to do this, it would be pretty easy to make yourself a pretend friend, wouldn't it? He wouldn't be invisible, however, which could cause problems with nosy neighbors and other troublemakers who like to call the police when they see something disturbing. A person could have a lot of fun with this type of art. The possibilites are ripe with entertainment value. I like it. I want to make one.

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  32. Astonishing, admirable, creepy. Thank you for sharing this.

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  33. amazing and they remind me of another earlier artists realistic work but I dont think his name was Ron M. I think the extra-large size you describe though would make these a bit surreal and sci-fi-ish. The other man who showed in NY City just made his life sized.

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  34. Wow - a little bit creepy but you have to admire the ability of the artist. It reminded me somewhat of a cool Seward Johnson exhibit we had in downtown Pleasanton last year which had many doing double-takes. http://www.ci.pleasanton.ca.us/pdf/sj-walkingtour.pdf

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  35. I immediately thought of Mueck too...and I have to say although facinating I wouldn't want one in my home...

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  36. I never thought I would look at a hairy back and say, that's art!

    Interesting quote by the artist too.

    Great post!

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  37. Beautiful observations, Steven. Why should we be repulsed by our realities, our own scruffiness?

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  38. And I thought baby heads were fascinating...

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  39. Does Kelly have his ear pierced? Twice?

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  40. Tess, so many here seem turned off by this man's work. Could it be just "too real" for some--as if the truth is difficult to face--even someone ELSE'S
    truth?

    Oh well, I believe I would enjoy VERY much to examine his work, for a half day.
    PEACE, girl!

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  41. Interesting challenge, something to be achieved, I suppose. He does capture and hold our attention.

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  42. Yeah, Steven, I noticed the double piercing, too. Really the only marks that have a story to tell.

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  43. Tess- I'd swear that guy was alive if he wasn't missing his lower half. so realistic! -- barbara

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  44. Still Life and Wet Paint Signs! The desire to touch,to see for ourselves if somebody is playing a prank on us.I adore work of this calibre and skill. Thankyou for the post! Brilliant!...Cheers!

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  45. Hi! Willow...
    All I can say is...Wow!
    his artwork is so realistic, fantastic, even beautiful in a unreal fashion.
    Thanks, for sharing the links too!
    [Oh! yes, I picked-up the gauntlet and enlarged the photograph.]
    DeeDee ;-D

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  46. A plastic surgeon's dream? Not my cup of tea, though. Too much like taxidermy. :(

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  47. Ach...du...lieber! And I thought the anime was getting insanely realistic!!!

    Nice...um... new(er) avatar, btw ;)

    HUGS!

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  48. Honestly Willow? It ABSOLUTELY creeps me out!!
    FUNKY!

    And just READING the words "crusties behind the ears" makes me throw up in my mouth a lil. Just sayin. GAH!

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  50. Art imitates life. Hummmmm......I'm not sure.....we would not degrade his skill, but, I like the quote by Paul Klee, "Art does not reproduce the visible. It renders visible." So we have to look at the intention of the artist. This is the experience of a "man" who could not create life, so he pretends to.

    And on the other hand, I like art to be big enough for all experiences. Because I am woman, this is not my experience. God in her wisdom has given the gift of creativity to women and we are willing to share it.

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  51. How bizarre. I suppose no different than the sculptures of Rome. We just have different options for mediums now. I'm not sure if I like it though.
    Dana

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  52. I would find this exhibit kinda creepy to look at, and astounding at the same time.

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  53. And here I thought you were going to ask us if we like her red hair! I much prefer the redhead woman to , uh, hirsute him. Rawthur narsty, he is...

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  54. Fascinating artwork, fascinating responses to it...

    Makes me wonder how many of us look at each other as an artwork, created, not happenstance.

    Also calls to mind the seemingly subtle, yet profound distinction between an inanimate model and the spark of the Divine that makes us alive

    In other words.. i think I'm more fascinated by the viewer's response than the work itself..

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  55. really, really freaky... but amazing none the less

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  56. Willow,
    Bizzare.
    Talented, but
    Bizzare.
    rel

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  57. Although Ron Mueck's name has been mentioned here, are you familiar with the works of Patricia Piccinini also? Such talented artists.

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  58. All I can say is...wow. I'd love to see in person.

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  59. That's amazing! A bit unsettling, but intriguing all at the same time.

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  60. he must place every hair individually. i wonder about his process. i'm intrigued.

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Inject a few raisins of conversation into the tasteless dough of existence.
― O. Henry (and me)