Michael Landy’s show Saints Alive—including seven massive kinetic sculptures of saints “in action” and a handful of sketches and collages—opened at the National Gallery in London this summer. As an artist in residence at the NG, Landy was charged with making new work inspired by the collection. He took figures and details from medieval and Renaissance paintings in the Gallery, cast them in three-dimensions, and reassembled them with refuse parts (old machinery, cogs, wheels) into postmodern hagiographic collages. Visitors to the exhibition can bring the sculptures to creaky, noisy, lurching life by turning cranks and pressing foot pedals. Of course, the Material Collective could not resist! Several of us visited the show this summer, and here three of us give (very different!) responses to the show:
Saints Alive, was, for me, a disappointment, but one worth a bit of thought.
What held me fast was the very thingliness of these sculptures, and the tension between the intricate and the obsolete in their innards.
I loved ‘Saints Alive’ because of the ways in which Landy’s collection of ‘rusty, mechanical, broken, noisy, creepy’ sculptures (as Karen suggests) blurred boundaries between viewer and participant, between the medieval and the (post)modern, between ‘art’ and ‘gimmick,’ and most importantly, between mechanisms and bodies.
Read the full review by Samantha Langsdale (Guest Blogger)
Saints Alive is at the National Gallery, London, through 24 November 2013.
Check out these excellent images of the installation (via theguardian.com), and these of Landy at work on the drawings and collages. In this clip, the artist talks about his working process. And in the longer video below, you can see the sculptures tested out in the fabricator’s studio.