On View

Post Balzac

Photo Credit: Rich Sanders, Des Moines

Post Balzac

Artist: Judith Shea (American, born 1948)
Date: 1990
Medium: Cast bronze
Dimensions:
Overall: 100 x 28 1/2 x 28 1/2 in., 2000 lb. (254 x 72.4 x 72.4 cm., 907.2 kg.)
Credit Line: Des Moines Art Center Permanent Collections; Gift of John and Mary Pappajohn, 2015.23
Accession number: 2015.23
Classification: sculpture
Copyright:Judith Shea P.O. Box 1086 New York, NY 10008 jshea@nyc.rr.com judithshea.com
Label TextThe source material for Judith Shea's Post Balzac is a sculpture of the famous French writer Honoré de Balzac that the master sculptor Auguste Rodin made in 1898. Shea credits Rodin's portrait with marking the beginning of modernism in sculpture and revisits the theme of modernity 100 years later. Rodin's sculpture depicts Balzac in a commanding gesture actively wrapping himself in his heavy writing robe with his chin proudly raised; Shea's robe stands like an ancient column, completely static and conspicuously empty. Shea offered the following explanation, "I wanted to address how, at the end of the last [19th] century, there was both romance and optimism for the next century. I wanted to ask, 'Where are we a century later?' This century's technical innovations have brought horrors, with the level of destruction we are able to do. The coat is hollow-a metaphor for the condition of the spirit, for emptiness." Viewers should also note the XX inscribed on the pedestal, a reference to the 20th century as well as the double negative.
entirely unexpected