Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sert's Maquette Tableaus

Josep Maria Sert (1874-1945) was a Catalan muralist whose epic works grace the walls of the League of Nations in Geneva and the Waldorf Astoria and Rockefeller Center in New York.

Many of his compositions teem with artistic groupings of larger-than-life figures.

To gather information, he posed human models, but he also constructed elaborate tableaus of small mannikins or maquettes. These little groupings gave him scope to try things that might be impossible with real humans.

He used rods to hold them in position. He dressed some in little costumes to figure out the clothes.

Mannikins only give a rough approximation of a real figure, but they're often a helpful starting point. Sert started drawing and refining right over the photographs. The grid helps him transfer the pose accurately to any scale.

For scenes of storms at sea, he sculpted waves from clay, and placed model boats into them.

Josep Maria Sert  (He also goes by the Spanish name José María Sert y Badía)
Thanks to Jim Vadeboncoeur for telling me about this guy!

Book: José Maria Sert : La rencontre de l'extravagance et de la démesure
Related GJ posts:
Lay Figures
Scaling up with a grid


Anonymous said...

Very interesting. cheap 3d printers might might make elaborate maquettings easier today. Especially since printers are falling into the sub-500 range.

High quality maquettes such as he has are hard to find though....

Poet Whale Studio said...

Thank you for another interesting post

I can't help but think how really neat those maquettes will be playing "War of the Worlds."

Scorchfield said...

One moments, only one
I think, I memoire,
to `Le Corbusier - Michelin`
sorry for off-topic seconds

Andrés Carrandi said...

I'm sure you know this, but I found it really interesting when I found out: Diego Rivera was originally commissioned to do the mural, but was fired after fighting with Nelson Rockefeller over his request to remove Lenin and Marx from his "Man at the Crossroads" Mural ( ) Rivera repainted the mural in the Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, where one can still see it today.

By the way, I received my 20th Anniversary Dinotopia book earlier this week. Beautiful edition! Congratulations!

Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. said...

Hi, Jim,
Wonderful seeing you at Spectrum Live! Let's do it again next year. Congratulations on being named this year's Grand Master.
Two corrections, if you could, to this post:
Please add the "Jr." to my name.
Please change the link to the updated (the current link is obsolete and you've done me a favor by pointing out that I missed that one during the update/clean-up.)

Peace, Jim (|:{>

Jim Vadeboncoeur, Jr. said...

P.S. The images are from a catalog of a CURRENT exhibition of Sert's work at Le Petit Palais in Paris. See it if you can!


Karla said...

Hi there. I love reading your blog! But I have a question. You seem to pack a whole lot into each day and get so much accomplished. I would love to read a post about what you do to keep the balance in your life so that you are able to accomplish so much and keep going. Thanks!

Ceridwen Taliesin said...

Thanks for the post! It's always useful to know how artists use reference for their art.

In these digital days, instead of real mannikins and model boats, one could use Sketchup models. ;)

Vicki said...

So that's how at least someone did it! And the grid behind the figures makes it so you can make all the figures work together better. This is brilliant. Much better than me trying to figure out all these relationships with my 2-dimensional brain. I take lots of photographs of myself in different positions for my work, taping the camera to the wall or setting it up on a shelf, and setting it to a 10-second wait time. Super helpful, but of course I can't get the relationships between people with that method.