Remaking Sculpture : Barry X Ball @ Nasher Sculpture Center

25 January 2020 - 3 January 2021

Barry X Ball: Remaking Sculpture presents sculptures created out of rare and delicate stones with the help of 3D scanning technology and CNC milling machines. Using these state-of-the-art techniques and a vast knowledge of art history and portraiture over 20 years, Ball has created two predominate and ongoing series, Portraits and Masterpieces.

Barry X Ball’s Portraits are a series of evocative busts created from digital scans of himself and his colleagues, their concepts and emotions often theatrically depicted through the stretching of skin, the translucence of stones used, and contrasting expressions of calmness and agony. Works from Portraits are rendered in semi-precious stones such as Belgian Black Marble, Golden Honeycomb calcite, and Mexican and Iranian onyx, and then hand-carved to emphasize a pattern or texture on the face that capture both the digital footprint left behind by the milling process and the art historical references embedded in each of them—from the Italian Renaissance conventions of depicting religious scenes and symbols to the Greek tradition of displaying “floating” portraits in stone supported by rods.

Barry X Ball’s interest in the art canon extends to his second series, Masterpieces, in which he reimagines classical and modernist works. Ball collaborates with renowned collections around the world to scan sculptures, and then, using a CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine, he carves a slab or block of stone until the shape of the figure from the scan forms. Finally, he hand-carves and polishes minute details into it. Concepts from Portraits parallel with the changes Ball adds to the Masterpieces, such as his decision to include his own face on the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew, a direct contrast with the calm look of the standing subject, adding an additional narrative dimension to the sculpture. Works in the exhibition that consider such materiality and subject matter when recreating masterpieces include:

Pietá, after Michelangelo Buonarroti's Rondanini Pietá
Envy/Purity, after Giusto Le Court's La Invidia and Antonio Corradini's La Puritá
Doorwoman, after Medardo Rosso's La Portinaia
Madame X, after Medardo Rosso's Madame X