These are all photos of the écorché sculpture, I made, photographed in different stages of construction. The first thing I want to talk about is the armature. It was initially designed by two sculptors, Andreas Griener and Stacy Turpin. Both very talented artists. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to refine it’s construction. It’s something very unique to my class and something I am very proud of. Also, I want to mention, the armature hands were designed by Jim Vikstrom. He’s a talented sculptor from Sweden. Jim was my assistant for three years at the FAA (Florence Academy of Art) and now teaches his own Écorché course in his own hometown.
The thought behind designing the armature was so that the students could sculpt the skeleton without worries of the wire pushing through. It’s very specific. Students will spend a week making this thing… the idea is that Écorché is a year long course. In other words, the student will be working on their sculpture for a whole year. If the armature is wrong in any way, it will only make problems for them in the future. The armature must be exact because it is also the student’s only real ‘truth’. The center rod serves as a centerline for the sculpture. So I am constantly encouraging students always to ‘draw’ on their sculpture and establish and re-establish their center line when it’s lost (along the front, sides, and back).
The overall sculpture is 75 centimeters long. One head length is 10 centimeters. Throughout the course, students in Écorché will develop an acute understanding of proportions as it relates to Richer’s 7 1/2 high head figure.
I have iron smith construct the metal tubes of the frame for my class and I would go over to a hardware store of sorts to have the wood cut. My assistant and I would construct each frame before class begins.
Students will bend their own wire and are shown how to construct the armature. In the end, the armature created looks kind of beautiful on its own, with a gesture that is clearly illustrated in a very linear fashion.
Students are encouraged to first construct the three major skeletal forms (skull, pelvis, and ribcage) into basic geometric shapes – emphasizing planes and proportions. The idea here is if you can draw an egg, you can draw a ribcage. If you can tumble that same egg in space, you should be able to draw a ribcage from any angle.
Click on the images below to see a gallery with descriptions of the process.