Charles Umlauf ‘s “ The Torchbearers ” is informed by Renaissance art in its handling of the human signifier, but it is identifiably a modern work. Picturing two muscled jocks clad in breechcloths as they run a race, with their organic structures frozen in flight as one passes an Olympic-style torch to the other, “ The Torchbearers ” is installed as portion of a fountain on the southern side of the Flawn Academic Center, a testament to Umlauf ‘s forty-year calling instruction sculpture at the University of Texas at Austin. As a word picture of jocks in gesture, Umlauf ‘s work alludes to Classical Greek and Roman sculpture rather every bit unapologetically as the sculpturers of the Quattrocento did. Yet Classical statues picturing jocks, such as the Discobolus of Myron, rarely ask for an allegorical or symbolic reading, while “ The Torchbearers ” rather clearly does. Install outside a secondary school “ The Torchbearers ” would look strictly cosmetic, with no peculiar deeper intending intended-but its existent installing outside a cardinal academic edifice invites the spectator to understand the sculpture as Umlauf intended, as a metaphorical word picture of one coevals of pupils replacing the following. ( We could even believe of the two figures as picturing the Senior Class and the Freshman Class. ) In his usage of classical theoretical accounts, though, Umlauf already demonstrates himself to be an inheritor to Renaissance sculpture. This paper will research the Renaissance beginnings of Umlauf ‘s representational manner by comparing with the plants by older creative persons such as Michelangelo and Donatello. Additionally, it will reason that merely as the Renaissance finally produced Mannerism, so does Umlauf ‘s position as post-Renaissance representational art intend his work finally is best apprehensible in footings of ulterior Mannerist deformation of Renaissance aesthetic ideals.
The architectural arrangement of “ The Torchbearers ” is already a hint to Umlauf ‘s liability to Renaissance sculpture. The rediscovery of Classical acquisition in the Renaissance-including the architectural plants of Vitruvius and mathematical and geometric plants attributed to Euclid, Pythagoras and Archimedes-reintroduced the “ aureate ratio ” of Greece and Rome to both architecture and sculpture in work like Michelozzo ‘s design for the Palazzo Medici in Florence. The archways of the interior courtyard of the Palazzo Medici observe these classical proportions exactly: in each of Michelozzo ‘s archways here, the ratio of the archway ‘s tallness to its breadth is tantamount to the ratio of its combined tallness and breadth to the tallness itself. The same proportions can, of class, be mapped onto the human signifier every bit good, and Umlauf places his figures in such a manner that, due to their set legs and tilting in either way, when they are viewed from the forepart ( as intended ) they excessively appear to suit the same set of proportions. Looking at the sculpture from the forepart, the square cosmetic window on the Flawn Academic Center which hovers behind and above the statue provides the oculus with an easy geometric point of comparing, and invites us to see the figures as make fulling a rectangular infinite defined by an aesthetic expression that was ineluctable in the Renaissance.
If the influence of the Renaissance is tangible in even the proportions observed by the figures in “ The Torchbearers, ” its manner of stand foring the human signifier is farther indebted. Comparison with Donatello ‘s early Renaissance freestanding bare statue of David shows a figure of similarities with Umlauf ‘s work. Donatello ‘s David does non picture anything in gesture as “ The Torchbearers ” does, yet Donatello sculpts David with his left cubitus projecting jauntily above his hip, his right arm set at the cubitus excessively as it rests on the blade ‘s pommel, his caput and mentum turned of all time so somewhat to stare upon the land. All these same techniques for enlarging the infinite occupied by a human signifier are besides utilized in “ The Torchbearers, ” to less elusive consequence. The limbs of Umlauf ‘s two smugglers are all likewise set at the articulations merely as Donatello ‘s David is. Yet Donatello uses these little curves to do his figure seem more natural, somewhat coy in its angle toward the spectator. The carefreeness of the cocked cubitus on Donatello ‘s figure shows how the angular flying-buttress-like place of the limbs in Umlauf was anticipated much earlier. In Umlauf ‘s sculpture, the curves are used to stress the unnatural nature of the signifiers: viewed from the side, the limbs seem to take up a monolithic sum of infinite, and the left-hand figure ( the one taking the torch and forcing in front, which indicates he is the Freshman instead than the Senior ) in peculiar hints a long s-shaped curve from the toes of his left pes followed up the side of the leg and widening out along the right arm, which curves in to make across and catch the torch. The gesture in specific of the arm is reflected in the ripplings of muscular structure that run down the dorsums of the two figures.
Of class there is a term for the extension of the natural signifiers of set limbs in Donatello ‘s plants, as they expand in Umlauf ‘s figures: this is most typical of the Mannerist creative persons who followed the “ high Renaissance ” of Michelangelo, coming much later. The deformations seeable in Mannerist plants like Parmagianino ‘s “ Madonna with the Long Neck ” are wholly seeable here, where the upper trunk of the two work forces seem extended even as the legs seem shortened. This is partially the placement of the figures as Umlauf manages it, but the resulting consequence is far more distortional toward the existent figures. We can see the manner in which Renaissance ideals are rendered somewhat more monstrous or “ mannered ” in Umlauf ‘s work than they were in Renaissance sculpture by comparing these figures to Michelangelo ‘s “ Pieta . ” The signifier of Michelangelo ‘s “ Pieta ” represents the application of purely classical and realistic criterions of representation where they had non antecedently existed: before the Renaissance, word pictures of the mater dolorosa in three dimensions normally shrank down the size of Jesus, so that he fit comfortably on Mary ‘s lap. This enabled the sculpturer to non worry excessively much as to whether the statue would be used on Christmas or Easter: to a certain grade, it refused pragmatism in the name of proportionality, for the realistic word picture of a adult female with a cadaver across her lap would widen excessively far and seem disjunctive. The soft curves that Michelangelo adds to the limbs of his figures alternatively cause it to make full the infinite upwards every bit good as outwards, and manages to equilibrate the figures absolutely into a kind of stable triangular building, in which Mary ‘s caput on the Pieta looms much higher than anything else. Similarly, Umlauf structures “ The Torchbearers ” so that the torch itself, referenced in the rubric of the work, thrusts up straight, ask foring the spectator to see the remainder of the sculpture as delineating, in some manner, the base from which this vertex reaches. Viewed from buttocks, nevertheless, it is possible to see the two figures as besides carving out an upside-down pyramid-both figures, after all, are each supported by a individual pes, and Umlauf has brought these two grounded pess ( the left pes of the Freshman and the right of the Senior falling back ) together as the supportive base for the statue. It is possible to see the manner the statue carves out a infinite get downing from these two pess but broadening to include the immense shoulder-spans of the two side-by-side work forces, so that it seems to turn up and out organically. In this manner, the exterior leg of the left figure seems distorted to a huge size, as though it were swelling outward to make full the infinite more wholly.
In each of these comparings with Renaissance masters, we may see that Umlauf utilizes a certain grade of deformation. The deformation of limbs that is seen in Mannerist pictures by Parmagianino or El Greco seems to impact these figures, which so look to a certain grade like 3-dimensional El Greco portrayals. The faces in peculiar render this kind of deformation of characteristics, and look chiseled and allegorical, with cold looks rendered in a intentionally masklike manner. It is obvious that these facets individual out Umlauf as a 20th century sculpturer, who has benefited from 20th century modernist art ‘s captivation with all things naA?ve and crude. The ribcages of the statues are where the deformation becomes most outstanding: when we view the meaty exposed ribs on each figure, we realize that the contrast is being heightened for consequence, and in order to give the figure a more heightened visual aspect. Both figures besides have their faces angled off from the spectator, ask foring us to look upward excessively at the torch instead than sing their faces, which are rendered non with any peculiar nuance but alternatively designed to look half-abstracted, like shop manikins. To a certain extent, all of these aesthetic picks represent a usage of the realistic manners of the high Renaissance with the intent of pull stringsing them for consequence. This is more or less the text edition definition of Mannerism in the late Renaissance ; to some grade, anybody meaning to make this kind of classically influenced sculpture in the 20th century is needfully a latter-day Mannerist. Umlauf is no exclusion.