The Hunter and the Hunted: Antoine-Louis Barye, Master Animalier
It’s beneficial to study other artists’ work. And nothing can discount the importance of seeing art in person. Photographs and computer screens just can’t compare. So, in honor of the many creators out there, I’m dedicating a series of posts to artists, active and not, whose work grabs my attention when I wander out to galleries and museums. This post, about Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875), will be the first:
It wasn’t my first visit to the Baltimore Museum of Art. It wasn’t the first time I wandered through its collection of European Art. It wasn’t even my first encounter with this particular artist’s work, although at the time when I laid eyes on the sculpture pictured above, I hadn’t realized it.
I was drawn to the fluid movement erupting from the lion’s exacting clutch and coursing like electricity through that horse’s veins, through its flared nostrils and finally escaping as a terrified shriek from its agape mouth. What energy, what careful attention to anatomy and detail.
The exhibit text explained that Barye was like a scientist, often studying animals in the Paris zoo and observing dissections. His predatory sculptures depict not only nature’s unrelenting food chain, but many saw them as symbolism for government figures in the brutal struggle for power. In fact, he received several government commissions for monuments in France.
Seriously, guys, pictures don’t do them justice. You need to see casts of his sculptures in person to fully appreciate just how precisely Barye articulated every detail of his subjects’ musculature down to the direction their fur grows.
Get out and see some art!