Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Castle Coubertin

In May 2007 a Parisian collector calls me in my studio in Hollywood.He already was familiar with my work as in 2006 he bought my piece The Resurrection of the Head. This man whom I will not name to protect his privacy has always had a profound emotion for sculpture , he collected Brancusi and Camille Claudel.He tells me on the phone I just bought a Manor from the Fifteen Century near Deauville in France and I want you to do the door of the Manor.At the time I was giving most of my work to the foundry of the Getty Museum but I decided to go to France and build the door on location.
I arrived to the Fondation Coubertin who hosted me for the project.A car was waiting for me at the train station who brought me to the domain of the Baron de Coubertin. There was a magnificent sculpture garden in the middle of woods that separate the foundry from the castle. They gave me the key of the Castle were I was living by myself. The Fondation Coubertin is a remarquable institution , one of the best foundry in the world , they restaured the statues on top of the roof of the Opera Garnier in Paris , they built the Gate of Hell for Stanford University , the president of the Foundation is doing a great work taking care of the Foundation his work received Le Prix Mont-Blanc pour la Culture in 2009.As I was working on my door , many sculptors were passing through my studio that was installed inside the foundry.I saw the massive silhouette of Ousmane Sow checking on his own statues , he looked like a living statue him self with great presence , and then I saw the Academician Cardot who complimented me on the way I sculpt hands and I complimented him on his Churchill , Degaulle and Jefferson which now grace the streets of Paris. But the greatest human and artistic discovery for me was to meet this extraordinary Norvegian sculptor who was preparing a larger than life human figure with the head looking down.His work has this rare quality when you are not sure if you are looking at a soul or at a body.
Arriving from California , I worked mostly at night , from midnight until 6 in the morning with coffee , cigarettes ( American Spirit the Blu pack ) , clay and the haunting songs of the owls.One night as I was taking a pause , I walked in the foundry and enter in the room near by , you have to understand that this foundry is like a hollywood movie studio the ceilings are 50 feet high (15 meters), I enter and I see The Gate of Hell of Rodin in plaster floating above the ground , suspended by chains and metallic beams into the air.
Every morning when the sun was rising I was going back to the Castle , a pregnant cat was sitting on the steps to whom I opened the doors.This cat rather aristocratic decided to sleep on the beautiful burgundy velvet sofa of the Castle.I finished the door in 24 days and I went back to California.The door is now installed and opens by itself with a secret code.The collector had the beautiful idea to surround it by a corridor in glass to protect the art from the discoloring of the rain.