Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Marxhausen once tried to sculpt clay busts of all the Concordia professors. After doing a few, Marxy realized the task would be far more time-consuming than he anticipated, so he moved on. Here is one completed bust owned by Prof. Pfabe. What other professors did Marxy sculpt? I'll be looking into that in the future.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Shot at 12:10
Why would Marxhausen want his Open Book sculpture tucked away behind Link library? Contrast this with the Son of Man be Free: that sculpture resides in the heart of the campus, with no trees obstructing student's view of it, and no buildings close enough to cast their shadow on it. Most students will pass by it on their way to different classes throughout the day, which means almost every student not only sees it daily, but can appreciate how it changes as the day goes by and the sun travels further west. This is probably why students poke fun at the Son of Man be Free so often: it's something most Concordia students are very familiar with.
Conversely, during the school day, a student would have to go out of his way to see the Open Book. From morning til noon, the sun is blocked by the building, so the afternoon is the only time you can appreciate strong sunlight's effect on it.
However, when Marxhausen discussed his sculpture in an interview, he explained that its placement was deliberate:
I decided to design something which was away from the wall so that it uses the space out here a little bit more rather than glue it up against a wall; then having it three dimensional like this so that the sun can play on its surfaces.
Based on this information, I've theorized that Marxhausen was not only well aware that his sculpture would be in shadow for part of the day, he wanted that variety between strong, dramatic light, and subtler light.
In A Time to See Marxy talked about some bottles that by a window in his house:
I've taken about twenty slides of these bottles sitting in the window and no two slides are alike. They're different because the light changes and the atmosphere changes and the sun changes. And sometimes they look very dramatic and sometimes they look very undramatic...as I get up in the morning and come to this little space I can see things differently as it's reflected in the obejcts.
Marxhausen aprreciated these bottles because of the variety. Similarly, the Open Book is sometimes dramatic and sometimes less dramatic because of the sun's lighting. As I've written in the past, Marxhausen loved the changes he saw in nature and he taught his students that seeing beauty is a deliberate, agressive action.
Since students have to go out of their way to appreciate the Open Book, seeing it at a moment when the sunlight is dramatic is all the more special. I'm positive that Marxhausen planned it that way.
One can't passively enjoy the Open Book; one has to actively make time to come appreciate it in its best light.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Marxhausen's office used to be located in Weller's basement. His office would be to the left if you walked down this hall, while the classroom would be to the right. Those glass cases displayed artwork by students. The rooms are now used for storage and were stripped bare of any artwork when Brommer became the art building. However, Marxhausen's scripture in brick remains along with this mural.
Several teachers I spoke to mentioned the brick piece, and a few of them also recalled that this mural was painted by Marxhausen. It bears a distinct resemblance to an image from the Hall of the Bulls in a cave in Lascaux, France.
This piece in one of the display cases does not look like any of the other work by Marxhausen that I've seen, so I think it may have been done by another Professor or a student. Still, if it were done by a student, could it have been done for a class taught by Marxhausen? Does anyone have any information about this piece?
Psalm 104 (King James Version)
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty.
2 Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment: who stretchest out the heavens like a curtain:
3 Who layeth the beams of his chambers in the waters: who maketh the clouds his chariot: who walketh upon the wings of the wind:
4 Who maketh his angels spirits; his ministers a flaming fire:
5 Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.
6 Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains.
7 At thy rebuke they fled; at the voice of thy thunder they hasted away.
8 They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which thou hast founded for them.
9 Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over; that they turn not again to cover the earth.
10 He sendeth the springs into the valleys, which run among the hills.
11 They give drink to every beast of the field: the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By them shall the fowls of the heaven have their habitation, which sing among the branches.
13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
14 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth;15 And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart.
16 The trees of the LORD are full of sap; the cedars of Lebanon, which he hath planted;
17 Where the birds make their nests: as for the stork, the fir trees are her house.
18 The high hills are a refuge for the wild goats; and the rocks for the conies.
19 He appointed the moon for seasons: the sun knoweth his going down.
20 Thou makest darkness, and it is night: wherein all the beasts of the forest do creep forth.
21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.
22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.
23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.
24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.
26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.
27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.
28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.
29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
30 Thou sendest forth thy spirit, they are created: and thou renewest the face of the earth.
31 The glory of the LORD shall endure for ever: the LORD shall rejoice in his works.
32 He looketh on the earth, and it trembleth: he toucheth the hills, and they smoke.
33 I will sing unto the LORD as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.
34 My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.
35 Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless thou the LORD, O my soul. Praise ye the LORD
Mark 16:15 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.
Man Ray was an avant-garde part artist who was part of the Dada movement. He invented the Rayograph technique, which involved putting objects on photographic paper and exposing them to light, thereby creating ghostly photographic images without using a camera. He realized he could create a film using this technique.
Ron Bork, Concordia's current Dean of Education, recalled a similar project he did as Marxhausen's student:
The film project involved having a section of 16mm leader film and drawing shapes on it with magic markers. We knew how much space was allotted per second and how close we could put the shapes together so they would project onto the screen in some kind of moving fashion.
Could Marxhausen have drawn inspiration from Man Ray for this class project? You could get a much better feel for Marxhausen's class' film might have looked liked by watching Man Ray's wild film, which caused a fight to break out in the audience. This film was shown in PBS's program, American Masters: The Artists. A DVD copy is available in Link Library.
Another influential artist featured in that series, Robert Rauscherberg, could be compared to Marxhausen. Both used found objects to assemble sculptures. See Marxhausen's Lent sculptures and lint pieces.
I also found the aforementioned Man Ray film on YouTube. Not every section uses his Rayograph technique. You can tell which ones I think may have inspired the Marxhausen class project because they are very jagged, you can make out objects like nails and tacks, and it sometimes looks like snow on a TV screen. Warning: this video may give you a headache, and the last clip shows the effect of light on a nude torso.
Friday, March 5, 2010
This Marxhausen piece hangs in the Teachers' Learning and Education Center at CUNE. When they saw me photographing this piece, several faculty and staff at TLEC began to reminisce about Marxy, and I gleaned some great information.
The back contained basic information such as the artist and title, Marxhausen gave it the simple title of "The Sower," and the listed media was glass and plexiglass.
He also used wood and possibly Formica, which is also used for counter-tops. Lynda Parde recalled Marxhausen also used Formica in a piece which he gave to her in 1973. From this information, I learned that Marxhausen was going through a "Formica phase" in the early 1970s.
It was clearly inspired by Christ's parable of the sower:
Then he told them many things in parables, saying: 'A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.' Matthew 13:3-8 (NIV)
This piece was photographed and included in a series of posters shared with LCMS teachers across the country, However the original is not just a flat, two-dimensional image, so one can appreciate it better by looking at it from more than one angle:
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
This a portrait of an old man by Marxhausen drawn on scratchboard. Using a scratchboard is like drawing in reverse; the artist starts with a simple black board, and uses a tool to cut white lines. Creating an image on scratchboard is tricky because you can't erase, and any fingerprints you leave are nearly impossible to remove.
When Marxhausen gave a talk to members of nursing homes, he explained that aesthetics is more than looking pretty or cute. An old face can be incredible aesthetic.
Your face can be understood to be like a landscape. We walk and enjoy the sunsets, the trees, and the driftwood and the barns and the houses. Maybe we could look at our faces, the cavities and the grooves, as a kind of landscape
Just like nature, which is constantly changing, the human face is gradually changing as well. Because of that, seeing a human face and finding aesthetic beauty is much like trying to find aesthetic beauty in nature, which is constantly changing. One must make a deliberate effort to see.
I think we all have preconceived ideas of what we look like. And actually, as we go through life, we mark moments when we’d like to remember. Our confirmation picture is taken in a very official way. And so there are times when we go to the photographer and he sets up the proper lighting, and we take our picture. Probably the most true pictures of what we look like are our passport pictures and our driving license picture, which are taken spontaneously and without too much makeup. But most people don’t like their passport pictures. It’s not the way they really are. So while we’re changing and going on, we think we look like that picture in the wallet, we look like our wedding picture. Actually, we’re changing.