Art about Love: From "Toujours L'amour" to "The Girl Next Door"
This is about the nature of art and the nature of love. And when you do art or literature with a love theme, what is the line between art and erotica? In this piece, a sculptor, Robert Barrows, addresses these questions with examples of his own art.
BUT THE THEME OF LOVE IS WITH US EVERYDAY…IT'S IN OUR MUSIC. IT'S IN OUR MOVIES…IT'S IN OUR LITERATURE AND IT'S IN OUR DAILY LIVES. PLUS , IT IS ALSO EXPRESSED IN ALL KINDS OF ART.
YET, MOST OF THE NEWS THAT WE HEAR ABOUT ART IS ABOUT THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS THAT ARE OFTEN BEING SPENT AT AUCTIONS FOR FAMOUS PAINTINGS AND SCULPTURE.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ART THAT MAKES SOME PIECES OF ART SO VALUABLE?
AND, WHEN ARTISTS DO A PIECE, ARE THEY THINKING ABOUT THE POTENTIAL MARKET FOR THAT PIECE, OR ARE THEY THINKING ABOUT THE THEME AND CONCEPT OF THE PIECE ITSELF?
ONLY THE ARTIST CAN ANSWER THAT...
...So with those things in mind, here are some things to think about when it comes to writing about the nature of art and the nature of love, according to Robert Barrows, a sculptor from San Mateo, California.
1) "Can you write about love without writing about remorse?
2) When you write about love, do you write about the ones that got away?
3) Or do you write about the one you wound up with?
Greeting card companies figured that out a long time ago. They write about the joy of love. If greeting card companies wrote about remorse, they would be out of business in a minute.
(I wonder if the same people who write their Valentine’s Day cards also write some of their condolence cards?) Could be, love and life and death and art are part of everyone’s lives.
So, you want your readers to read every word? Write about love.
You want a great theme for art, do art about love.
You want the public to enjoy a piece of art, do art about love."
With that in mind, here are some examples of some pieces of sculpture by Robert Barrows that celebrate some of the different aspects of love, and here are some of his thoughts about art and love.
(A note to readers: There are several links to these pieces in this article and you can also download a brochure that contains photos of these pieces of sculpture and some additional sculpture by Robert Barrows at http://www.barrows.com/
Click on Download a Free Brochure.)
The art and the stories behind the art, as Barrows relates them, are as follows:
1) “Toujours L’amour” (Love always) http://www.barrows.com/
I actually started carving this piece to be a centaur. When it wasn’t looking like much of a centaur, I thought I could turn it into a sphinx. When it wasn’t looking like much of a sphinx, I turned it upright and voilà, “Toujours L’amour,” a celebration of love.
2) “The Girl Next Door” http://www.barrows.com/
This piece of work wasn’t always the girl next door. On the back of the piece is a title plate with a slightly different title, “Temptress.”
3) “Adam and Eve” http://www.barrows.com/
This piece also started out as a centaur. If Adam looks like he’s got thighs like a horse, he does. Will Adams eventually meet the Eve that's meant for them? You can only hope so.
And will they again be cast out from the Garden of Eden with no way back in? What do you think?
(A photo of the "Adam and Eve" sculpture by Robert Barrows has also been included in an Israeli textbook on love called "Love of my Soul.")
The nature of love and the nature of art is that it often starts out one way, and ends up quite another. Life is like that, too. It starts out simple and winds up complex.
"Those aren’t just the themes that arise from my art," says Barrows, they are also themes that run through a book he wrote called “Cemetery of Lies.” (www.cemeteryoflies.com)
Cemetery of Lies is a collection of intimate secret confessions, as told from beyond the grave through video tombstones. Barrows is also the inventor of a video tombstone called the “Video Enhanced Gravemarker”
# 7,089,495). (www.barrows.com/
But now…onto the next piece of art…and onto some more of Barrows' thoughts about the nature of art and the nature of love...
4) “Prom Date” http://www.barrows.com/
I could say that “Prom Date” is a special homage to young love and to a special time in one’s life…but that would be baloney!
The trouble with trying to read things into art is that it ain’t necessarily so. I called this scrawny little flat chested thing “Prom Date” because it turned out to be a scrawny little flat chested thing, not quite the prom date I had imagined….but a lot of fun nonetheless…
Now, back to the sculpture at hand…What exactly is the nature of art? How do I as an artist, create? Do I have great themes that I want to express? Can art or sculpture or music by themselves really express great themes, or are great themes really expressed only in words?
Some artists may start out with the intent to convey great themes. I mostly pick up a hammer and chisel and I start carving and the sculpture evolves as it just comes along. But some of the time, I will start out with something specific in mind and I am always quite pleased if it turns out the way I had intended. If it doesn’t, at least I learned from it. That too is the nature of art and love. If it doesn’t quite turn out the way you imagined, so be it. Chalk it up to experience, but that’s easy to say. Try saying it when it’s you that has the broken heart.
If the piece of art doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, big deal, if your love life disappoints you, that’s a lot more fragile.
Art and love itself are both perceived differently by everyone, and there are always many sides to the same story, whether it is a love affair or an art editor writing about a piece of art for Valentine’s Day.
And when the subject of art is love or the human body, is it art or erotica?
Will your publisher let you show all of this art in your publication, or would some of the photos be deemed obscene? When did the human body become obscene…as far back as the fig leaf in the Garden of Eden?
"These are some of the things I think about," says Barrows, when he is doing a piece of art. Where will it be displayed? In whose house? In which gallery or museum? In The Louvre, or somebody’s closet? At Sotheby’s or a flea market? "When I try to promote “Toujours L’amour,” I try to promote “Toujours L’amour” as a “unique conversation piece.” And that is really the nature of art. If it makes people think about it, then it “worked.” But in reality, to the artist, it works if it pleased the artist," according to Barrows.
The hardest part about art is trying to sell it, not creating it. The same with writing…The most enjoyable part of writing my book was writing it. When I was doing the writing, I wasn’t thinking about how I was going to sell it. The writing itself was a catharsis.
When I started out doing sculpture, I was doing it strictly for my own enjoyment. When some of the pieces started turning out well, then I started thinking about selling things, and then I started thinking about it seriously….That’
In art, as in love, when you start taking things too seriously, or start reading things into things, you run the risk of taking all the joy out of it.
"My advice on art is just to show the pictures and let the readers make up their own minds," says Barrows, "but that would put art writers back into the newsroom where they would have to write stories about facts."
"The truth is, art is fun. Love is certainly fun. Writing is fun, and I enjoy all of it," says Barrows.
For additional information, contact Robert Barrows at R.M. Barrows, Inc. Advertising & Public Relations at 650-344-4405, www.barrows.com.