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  • Writer's pictureEleanor Crook

I wish it was Grappa! Medardo Rosso's work with a found object




A post about Medardo Rosso, the 19th century Italian sculptor, who worked in Wax and plaster. Cheap versatile materials ; did all his own casting, as far as we know, and created strange, spectral light effects, which make his statues stand in for ghosts , memories, half-seen beings, and other liminal entities. I’ve been reading about him in Sharon Hecker’s new book "A Moment's Monument".


I discover that like more contemporary sculptors he had a liking for using found objects. The three images in this post show a piece that has often been misnamed as the priest - in fact, its title is, “If only it were grappa !” Grappa is a very strong Italian drink made from grapes, rather like vodka or whiskey in strength.




The original piece shown in the sepia photo, top, is a Wax head attached to or perhaps balanced on a real found object, which is a stone baptismal font later casts of it are sometimes shown without the font (ona wood post, above) or occasionally a font has been sourced and added to the work.




The humorous title completely changes the mood of the piece. In fact, the sculpture shows a chap balanced on a baptismal font, looking at the holy water, and wishing it was a strong spirit, so quite subversive. I was pleased to read, it was originally shown in an avant-garde exhibition with other artists, whose approach to Art at the time was experimental and sometimes satirical several of whom went on to be founder members of the Futurist movement. Strange that I’ve been looking at his work for quite some time guilty of reading books about him whilst looking only at the pictures , not absorbing texts fully - the pictures are so magnetic they seem to speak for themselves, but the back story adds so much. I was very happy to discover that he was so playful and informal with his content, even risking causing ,well , mild religious annoyance..

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