Body or life cast as some like to call it cast continues to be a contentious issue within most artwork groups. Many in the art world believe it is far from an art form as it’s only someone duplicating the body needing no artistic ability whatsoever. So what’s body cast to sculptors and all those artists who participate in it? Is it merely a replacement for artistic ability? That’s really what this simple article will attempt to reply.
One might ask what photography is as it’s somewhat similar to start. A brief reply is it is a way of copying an exact likeness of a three dimensional object in two dimensions. That undoubtedly is a technical response, but far from an acceptable one. When photography first came forth in the 1800’s, there were only as many critics deriding this new artwork over the truly amazing gifts of conventional painters and sculptors. Yet now, few would doubt the artistic abilities of such famous photographers as Annie Liebovitz, Ansell Adams and Robert Cappa to identify just a couple of greats. They added their particular style and outlook have required the mechanical craft of photography, and created high art forms which are respected the world over.
The same can even be said for life cast – an art form frequently denigrated as nothing more than copying by arty purists – but believe photography. In the hands of hobbyists, one cannot differ with these critics. Yet all one must do would be to see the works of George Segal, Duane Hanson and John DeAndrea the sacred trinity of body cast artists and it definitely would dispel that criticism. More recently the work of another gifted life cast artist, Jason deCaires Taylor, comes to mind with his bunches of submerged sculptures creating man-made coral reefs around the planet.
If they were inquired, what these gifted body cast artists would tell us is that life cast is more than just getting a form from the human body. For it’s what the artist does to create the first form (similar to a photographic plate) – how he/she presents the model, the medium used to make the cast, the finishes applied and the resultant narrative the finished piece tells. In fact when correctly performed, life cast, like painting, sculpting it, playing an instrument or dancing is an art form.