Carole Feuerman interviewed in Artrooms

Scritto da AnnaChiara Della Corte

Carole Feuerman is considered a pioneering figure in the world of hyperrealist sculpture, which emerged around 1970 in relation to photorealist painting.  Together with Duane Hanson, born in 1925, and John De Andrea, she was one of the three leaders in making lifelike sculptures that portray their models precisely.  While Hanson used uniforms and props to achieve a Pop Art irony, and De Andrea explores the love relationships of men and women, her sculptures have always visualized a natural beauty and a sense of inner peace, especially of women, depicted alone.

- It is often said that art reflects our inside and it is a natural way of expression for artists: What can we find of yourself in your sculptures?

CF: Physicality is a huge part of my work. The hyper-realistic style of my art creates the physicality for which my sculptures are known. The realism in my art stems from my desire to portray real emotions and physical states of being—from peaceful serenity to energy, equilibrium to vigour. I make my sculptures about people who are comfortable in their own skin. I promote the idea of total health. The World Health Organization stated in 1970, the decade in which I began making my sculptures, that health embraced a total package of ‘physical, mental, and social well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. A sound mind in a sound body, in other words.

Your sculpture is full of contrasts: the water and the condition of half-sleep, eyes closed and movement. Can you tell us more about this mix of elements?

 CF: Water can be very calming, organic, and peaceful, and, as a theme, it goes well with the tone I desire for my work. I play with the idea that ordinary activities—like cleansing or swimming—can put an individual in touch with deeper sentiments. The water droplets help to create a very physical presence in my sculptures. Our bodies are made up mostly of water. It is essential for life—the earth could not sustain itself without water. Water connects all of us through this universal necessity. It has spiritual qualities.

- The idea and the relative perception of beauty in your art is crucial, you follow very precise aesthetic criteria: proportions, thinness, grace, delicate face features.

CF: I believe that my figurative sculptures represent an awareness of inner self. I think this is a very sensual thing—not sexual in the traditional sense, but definitely encompassing the aspect of sensuality that is so closely linked to sexuality.

Art historian John T. Spike solidified my place in the rhetoric of art history by who dubbing me ‘the reigning doyenne of hyper-realism’. He said, ‘Capturing the tingling sensation of sun, sea and a good workout may not be a theme in the lexicon of post-modernism, but it’s one of the simple satisfactions that keeps teachers and office workers dreaming for the other 51 weeks of the year. Bernard Berenson praised Renaissance art for its “life-enhancing” qualities, by which he meant its truth to life. Feuerman’s ongoing celebration of healthy sensuality is a late 20th-century revival of those same values. Who says you can’t swim in the same river twice?’

- Can you describe your technique as sculptor? 

CF: It all begins with the idea for the sculpture. Sometimes I observe a posing model while I sculpt using clay or plaster. I paint most of my resin pieces using oil paint. It takes hours of labor and over a hundred layers of transparent paint that gradually build up to look like flesh. They only look hyper-real when the eyelashes and eyebrows are perfected and the last water drop is set. The effect of hyperrealism is really created through my finesse and technique. You can have all the correct materials but it really is the skill of the artist that achieves hyperrealism. The bronze pieces are sculpted in clay first and then a mold is made of them The mold is used by the foundry making the bronze piece in a process known as ‘lost wax’. The monumental hyper-realistic outdoor bronze pieces are painted with automotive paint which enhances the realism.

Many of your works are displayed in important public and private collections at international level.

CF: I have been the subject of numerous museum retrospectives and innumerable art gallery one-person exhibitions.  Many of my works have been exhibited in public gardens and city streets around the world, ranging from the Piazza della Repubblica, Florence, Italy, in 2005, the Venice Biennale in 2009 and 2015. The NYC Parks Department exhibited her ‘Survival of Serena’ in Petrosino Square in Soho, from May to September 2012.  Several of my sculptures in bronze are owned and permanently installed in public, including ‘The Golden Mean’, which stands in Riverfront Green Park overlooking the Hudson River in Peekskill, New York and “The Double Diver”, in the City of Sunnyvale, California.  I formed The Carole A. Feuerman Sculpture Foundation in 2011 in order to “generate excitement and passion for the arts” and to inspire and reward deserving artists with exhibition opportunities and internships for college credit and grants.  My work is in the selected private collections of the Emperor of Japan, Hillary Clinton, Malcolm Forbes..

Coming back to Italy, your swimmers are currently displayed at Liquid Art System, What do you think about Capri? Your style matches very well with the fresh and dinamic concept of this gallery, located where luxury shopping rules, featuring mannequin women (real and materials)..

CF: Capri has and is my favorite Island. It is incredibly magnetic. I am so happy to be represented by Liquid Art System and to have gotten to know Franco Senesi and his very professional and nice team. I am looking forward to a very long, happy and profitable relationship.