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Of course a sculpture is not a just a 'thing' in the everyday sense. It's not a train, a painting or a photograph. It's not an object designed to be used. You can't travel around in it, or use it to squeeze an orange. In fact you can't use it for anything. Often a sculpture has a special purpose.

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David with the head of Goliath 1586-1590, Hendrick Goltzius,
Pen and brush on paper, h 27 cm × b 17 cm,
Collection of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

In this drawing from the 16th century we see David holding an enormous sword in one hand, with in his other hand the head of the giant Goliath that he has just hewn off (shown in the right-hand image). The artist who created this design for a print, Hendrick Goltzius, must have seen Michelangelo's David, as he has recreated his relaxed pose in contrapposto here. This contrasts sharply with the violent action in the right-hand image, where we see David wielding an immense sword, with one foot on the fallen giant, cutting off Goliath's head.

Unlike Michelangelo's statue, this David is clothed, with his sling hanging at his side, and holds Goliath's giant sword belonging to Goliath as well as the Philistine's severed head. Here David is shown after the deed has been done, while Michelangelo's sculpture shows David before the battle. The drawing is a cartoon strip telling the story of David and Goliath in two instalments. The story is told without the presence of the main characters. Michelangelo's sculpture does not tell a story, but offers us the presence of David himself.

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lucky b one 2006, Claus-Pierre Leinenbach,
Mixed media and nylon, 156 x 58 x 44 cm, Collection of the artist

The sculpture lucky b one by sculptor Claus-Pierre Leinenbach, from Germany but based in the Netherlands, has been chosen for the prelude exhibition in Bredelar.
Just like David, lucky b one is portrayed in contrapposto. Although in this case his legs are crossed and he doesn't appear quite so relaxed. He, or she – this is unclear – appears to be naked like Michelangelo's David. What is is perfectly clear is that this sculpture needs to retain a certain degree of tension to remain upright.

sculptuur als bevestiging12That is why Michelangelo's David has a tree trunk behind his right leg to provide support. Claus-Pierre has chosen to simply show this part of the construction: iron rods that support the mass above. Each of the sculptures has a body and openings between the torso and the arms; David is standing upright while lucky b one is squatting slightly. And they each derive their significance from the fact that they exist, that they are really here, and we in turn become aware that we exist, that we are also really here, thanks to them. Because they have a purpose, which we may not immediately understand, but which we can sense is there. A different purpose than a train or an orange juicer: a purpose that takes us on a journey of exploration, not looking for a practical use, but for a possible meaning.

Both are bodies. David is too beautiful to be true. Lucky is too unhappy to be true. In these bodies we expect to find, just like in our own bodies, a spirit or consciousness. An added dimension, something that you can't find in a train or an orange juicer. But what exactly is that? Are we looking for a spirit, understanding, soul, feeling, character or emotion? In any case it is something we might not be able to actually see, as in ourselves, but it is there all the same: a kind of presence. A being. Not mere existence, but a pointer to or a confirmation of a special uniqueness. This sense of being, which also confirms our own uniqueness, will be something we will be discussing more often.

 

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