Friday, January 4, 2013

Hand Finished

Dusk and Dawn
Sagrestia Nuova, San Lorenzo, Florence)

These figures adorn the edges of a sarcophagus. They are beautifully sculpted with Dusk almost featureless, with unfinished feet and hands. Dawn, is turning purposely toward the viewer, exuding power and vitality. (Surprisingly, this is the only female nude Michelangelo ever sculpted!) Both of these figures are beautifully finished... finished with that final extra step, to make the sculptures exemplary.

When I was 13 traveling with my family, we took many tours in many different places, and saw many beautiful things. I remember bits and pieces of information - ideas and thoughts that have been tucked away somewhere and remembered briefly here and there throughout my life. I remember the tour guide saying that these particular sculptures were finished by hands...hands rubbing straw over the surface of the marble for hours upon hours. The straw not only burnished a beautiful shine (almost skin-like) on the surface of the marble, but left a beautiful, warm tone over the stone. I remember looking at them, understanding in another way, why these artworks were exemplary.

Finished artwork, whether rough or smooth, figurative or not, has the touch of the hands. This is the intimate connection between the artist and the work. To finally touch, polish, and proclaim it done, the artist seals the end of the process. That final lingering is that final touch. Hand finished.