Thursday, August 9, 2012

Other Paper Sculptors' Widely-Varied Art

Peter Calleson's 2006 work Holding on to Myself
Over the past few years I have encountered the artwork of several paper sculptors who have a very different approach to the medium than I do.

If you follow this blog you have seen my work and read accounts of how I make it, most recently in the just-previous post about my still-unfinished "Rose" piece and the idea of creating limited editions, and one from earlier this year, about some multi-piece animals I made.

Now I'd like to share just a few works by Peter Callesen, Allen and Patty Eckman, and The Mystery Paper Sculptor of Edinburgh.

Peter Callesen
Callesen is a Danish paper sculptor who specializes in one-sheet-of-paper pieces that can truly be amazing. His website features well over 100 of them, and I strongly urge you to go there and look at them. They are wonderful little miracles of the designer's art, and very adroitly created.

Peter Calleson, Looking Back, 2006. See his website!
I first learned about Callesen, however, in a screwy and backward way--through one of those chain emails that cycle around. A friend sent it to me, in the belief that it was a collection of entries to a contest sponsored by the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

It wasn't.

Instead, it was a completely unattributed collection of Callesen works, passed off as entries in a contest that the Hirshhorn never actually held.

Why would someone create an email like this? Why totally rip off a wonderful artist, spread his work all over the Internet, and make false claims about his work? I totally do not understand the kind of mind that could do that.

I want to thank Roberta J. Morris and her investigative work for setting the record straight.

This is Allen And Patty Eckman's Eagle Hoop Dancer.
Allen and Patty Eckman

My first exposure to the work of Allen and Patty Eckman was also through an unattributed email.  A different friend sent that email, asking "Hi! Is this anything like the paper sculpture you do?"


I scrolled down to find a cascade of amazing, gorgeous, ultra-realistic, pure white pieces. I'd only been doing paper sculpture for maybe a year at that point, feeling my way along self-taught in a brand-new medium when I had time while in graduate school, and my first reaction was OMFG, if that's my competition I am SO dead.

Allen and Patty Eckman, Wife and Son of White Bull
My second thought was who is this artist, and how does s/he DO it??? As it turned out, "s/he" is a "they," and they are very generous in explaining how they do it. Since they invented the process, they rightly charge a fee, but the paper casting process they use is no secret.

I was able to track down the Eckmans when I received a second version of the email from yet a different friend--and this email had the grace to not only correctly credit the Eckmans, but also to include extensive quotes from an interview with Allen. I grumble that they didn't include a link to their website, but at least it's easy to Google "Eckman paper art."

Lucky for you, you don't even have to do that

As with Peter Callesen's work, I strongly urge you to wander through the Eckmans' online galleries. And prepare to be totally blown away.

The Mystery Paper Sculptor of Edinburgh
A pun on Ian Rankin's novel, Exit Music.
In a post about mystery-reveals regarding paper sculpture, how better to leave you than with a still-unsolved mystery?

I've been a follower of Robert Krulwich's blog, Krulwich Wonders, for some time, and last year he discovered a fascinating conundrum: an anonymous someone was leaving wonderful little paper sculptures made from books or parts of books in libraries and museums all over Edinburgh, Scotland, "in support of Libraries, Books, Words, and Ideas."

Krulwich spotlighted the seven sculptures known to have been discovered during the spring, summer, and early fall of 2011 in an October 2011 post, ending on the incredulous note that while some people in Edinburgh apparently knew the identity of the Mystery Sculptor, they had decided not to reveal it.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World inspired one of the sculptures.
At the end of November, he was back with a second post, in which he focused on three more sculptures and the partial revelation that the Mystery Sculptor was in fact a woman--but that she preferred not to reveal anything else.

The mystery was quite the cause celebre in Edinburgh for a time. Readers of the Edinburgh Evening News took a poll and the result was a verdict of "We Don't Want To Know," and ultimately the Mystery Sculptor decided to honor that preference.

PHOTO CREDITS: I have to admit the Callesen and Eckman photos shown here are taken from the emails I received; by inserting a lot of links and being very up-front about my sources, I hope not to be criticized too badly. The Scottish paper sculpture images are from Robert Krulwich's blog, which got them from the Flickr feed of Chris Scott. Many thanks to all!

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