7 Artists Smashing Our Expectations of What Marble Can Be
The artist, taking the life-cast head of his former New York gallerist as a jumping-off
point, in a concerted effort to reinvigorate the sub-genre of romantic portrait sculpture,
has here conjoined his signature fever-pitch execution intensity and a newfound conceptual tenderness. Realized as a mirror-image of the subject, at 85% scale,
in the renowned, uniquely un-figured black marble known as ‘Belge Noir’, exhibiting a layered surface suffused with a ‘sfumato’ overlay of foliate relief and coincident
miniscule diagonal / radial flutes, the stony surrogate captures, in soft Galatean contravention of its obdurate materiality, a moment of poignant reverie. The artist- designed integral / modular base / pedestal unit, its tapering parabolic sweep flowing
into the sculpture’s mirror-polished flute stem (which, in turn, terminates in a
silhouetted arboreal fringe), conceived in parallel with the sculpture, precisely-
fabricated in stainless steel, limestone, acrylic-spray-lacquered aluminum and wood (and a variety of subsidiary materials) by a studio-coordinated consortium of disparate fabricators, is reminiscent, alternately, at its apex, of traditional ‘socles’ and mid-20th-century Modernist furniture pedestals. The resultant deceptively-diminutive ensemble, created with deep reverence for and specific focus on the history of sculpture, makes an expansive case
for the critical reconsideration of prevailing contemporary practice, while simultaneously probing both the subject’s psychology and her complex relationship to the artist.
Image rights: Copyright Barry X Ball 2017 Courtesy of Louise Alexander Gallery (https://www.louise-alexander.com/artist/barry-x-ball/)
Barry X Ball takes the forms and production methods of traditional sculpture and weds them to contemporary technologies. Ball uses the CNC milling technique, mostly on stone, to create replicable copies of famous artworks and portrait busts of contemporary artists such as Matthew Barney. With this production method, the sculptor transforms stone—a material once considered the domain of originals—into a medium for editioned works. By recreating iconic art-historical pieces such as Umberto Boccioni’s Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), Ball strives to perfect the original, refine its various facets into a new material, and raise questions about casting and the role of authorship in sculpture.
American, b. 1955, Pasadena, CA, United States, based in New York, NY, United States