A first kiss. Caught in the act, their lips barely touching. Based on characters from Dante’s The Divine Comedy, Paolo and Francesca’s passion grows as they read a romantic fairy tale together. Rodin’s The Kiss was so scandalous in its time it was hidden away. Passion, desire, even eroticism show through roughly carved marble; a sculpture able to convey interactions between two humans so thoroughly between human and object alone.
Contemporary craft shows us something different. Elizabeth Englander, Greg Ito, Elizabeth Jaeger, Aidan Alexis Koch, Lee Maida, Sophia Narrett, Anna Sagström and Diamond Stingily provide a new kind of dexterity to sculpture. The deep loneliness cultivated by digital culture arguably has enhanced our desire to seek comfort in objects that remind us of sensuality. While not as epic as carving a chunk of marble, there is a sweet honesty to hair weaves with heart clips, painstakingly detailed embroidery, broken compasses, illustrated banners and papier-mâché. Allusions to love may have become more subtle but are no less deeply felt.
Is it romance that has changed, or craft?