-by Arnie Fenner
I've always loved dimensional art. Maybe my interest was sparked at a youthful age by trips to various museums, but I suspect that it was building model kits and playing with Marx army men—holding these detailed figures in my hand that some unknown artist had originally sculpted for casting and manufacture—that nurtured an appreciation that has only grown with time. At the awards ceremony for Spectrum 20 this past May during Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, Jarrod and Brandon Shiflett were the presenters in the Dimensional Category and Brandon joked that sculptors "must be 360 times better than 2D artists" because they not only had to think about the front of the art, but also the side, rear, top, and bottom of the work, too, when creating it. And even though he was kidding (don't anyone think otherwise), Brandon was also being truthful when talking about the challenges sculptors have to overcome with their art, particularly when translating a well-known painting or drawing into a dimensional artwork.
At a recent convention one 3D artist was told by a collector that his fellows weren't really very interested in sculpted works because they only bought "one-of-a-kinds." The guy went on to suggest to the sculptor that he might be interested in buying something if he (the artist) offered a piece as, say, a singular bronze; the sculptor explained that the moulding, pouring, and finishing for one bronze would be extremely expensive and result in a pretty hefty price tag (which this collector admitted he wouldn't pay). Then it was suggested that he do a "one off" using clay or wax or painted sculpy and the artist explained some of the issues with all of those materials over time and why he chose to do limited edition castings, not only for longevity but so that he could also make his art give him more of a return on his investment of time and skill. That didn't make this particular collector happy: he wanted what he wanted.
Above: Collectors have always been interested in sculptures that have castings of more than one copy such as those by Mucha [above left] and Remington [above right]. Just as lithographs by Lautrec or silkscreens by Dali and Warhol or vintage movie posters, despite having been produced in editions of 10 or 100 or several thousand, are highly prized by collectors.
Naturally, that's a silly attitude and a silly thing for this collector to tell the sculptor. It was a blanket statement—and you all know how I feel about those—which actually only reflected one person's narrow opinion, not that of all collectors as a whole (obviously).
Dimensional art is widely collected in a multitude of forms and while there are most certainly singular 3D creations regularly offered for sale (particularly, but certainly not exclusively, in the Art Doll field and with works created with repurposed and found objects) there's absolutely no prejudice against limited editions (as prices in galleries, at auction, and on the secondary markets show). Whether it's a statue cast in resin or bronze, whether it's an Art Toy or action figure, whether it's a one-of-a-kind Art Doll or a superhero maquette released in an edition of 2000...all have passionate and enthusiastic collectors.
Anyway, I thought I'd share some wonderful work by some wonderful artists this morning—and when it comes to 3D art and artists, this really is only the tip of the iceberg. Whether they're one-of-a-kind or one in an edition of a thousand, these are pretty special. And, of course, collectible.
As mentioned above, both of these are prime examples of sculptors extrapolating details not shown in the painted sources (in this case, both by Frank Frazetta) in order to create dimensional artworks successfully.