Too often artists of tremendous talent and beauty are not recognized in their lifetimes. I’d like to help change that for at least one artist.
In this blog I’d like to introduce my faithful readers and friends to a Dutch artist of unique vision and broad talent, and who just happens to be someone who has become a close friend. Corinne van Bergen sculpts in glass, wire, bronze, elastic and combinations thereof. She also is darn good with paint and pencil, but it’s her sculpting that caught my attention and admiration.
The work pictured above, Solo Swimmer, part of a series of glass sculptures she has completed, and in my opinion, is the best thus far. The methods by which Corinne sculpted the swimmer makes him appear as if he were flying through the water. In fact, upon first seeing Solo Swimmer, I blurted, “That looks like Superman’s Flight!” — referring not to the superhero but to a memorable drift scuba dive that resembled the thrill of uninhibited flight through the water.
How Corinne crafts the glass sculptures is a painstaking, remarkably unique process. She conceives and sketeches out the image she wants to portray, then draws each bodily segment on a sheet of plastic, which, ultimately, guides her as she carves each pane of glass. As each etched glass piece is pressed to the next, they collectively begin to form the body Corinne’s envisioned. Or at least this is my simplistic understanding of what she does.
Think of a CT head scan where each “slice” of the brain reveals an intricate pattern of whorls, squiggles, and noodly shapes (sorry, I got fired as Artistic Editor on the school newspaper!). When all the CT slices are put together, they would form a picture of the head, brain casing and inner brains, etc, included. (Sorry again, non-marine science wasn’t my strong suit either!) The point is: each “slice” or piece of glass is intricately carved to be part of the whole sculpture, and performed in a medium which is fairly common — glass — but when completed, presents a piece of art which is as unique in concept and execution as it is in beauty.
Corinne’s other work as an “expressive artist” is similarly intriguing. Her use of commonplace items such as metal-coated string, wire, or even elastic bands, produces small sculptures which are indeed as expressive as many anatomical drawings. Many of the wire figures she has used in story-telling tableaus or “sculpture plays” (my definitions) in exhibitions, while others are expressive as solo pieces. As of this summer she has started an interesting series of cast bronze scuptures of little “B’Angels” which in Dutch loosely translates to “mischevous” or “naughty” angels that nevertheless posses a smidgen of vulnerability. The first shows a young angel full of piss and vinegar perched on a spool. Peek behind her and you see her clutching the thread to the spool for dear life.
To construct her wire figures, Corinne begins twisting and turning the wire in her fingers, and eventually what emerges is a figure: man or woman, dog, ear, or — my favorite — a little whale:
I am particularly fond of this piece as Corinne made this especially for me as a combination 60th birthday and farewell present. We had become close friends during our sojourn in the Netherlands and this was such a touching and individualistically “Corinne” way of expressing to me great friendship and caring. Indeed, Michael and I had become good friends with both Corinne and her husband, Martin, spending many an evening over wine, Dutch kaas (cheese), and dinner, including our last night in Holland.
In a previous blog I enthused about three other Dutch artists whose work I admire greatly: Vermeer, Van Gogh, and Escher. Their styles and indeed epochs varied widely, but they had one thing in common, besides being Dutch: they were all deceased. It’s a shame so many artists only achieve fame once they’ve passed on to the Great Artists’ Haven in the Sky. Let’s try to get Corinne van Bergen some deserved attention and praise now rather than later. Her singular talent and work deserve it.