The Torso Table, an explanation of process, and some art history.

After a picture of this table was posted on another blog, here, there were some "unusual" comments, culminating in a request for a "defense" of this table.

"All artists after all can defend their work, otherwise it's meaningless."

PFUI, art is not defensible, nor should it be, nor can it always be explained. Art is a small expression of the infinite; explanations would seem to diminish it.

I can, however, give some thoughts as to the process involved in the construction of this piece of "functional art".

Why a table? If you have an "old fashioned" in one hand, it would be nice to have a small table at your arm, to place said "old fashioned" on. For those unfamiliar with it, an "old fashioned" is a Bourbon whiskey based cocktail. So, a table.

Having not slept through art history, and being a determined auto-didact, I decided on a caryatid as the support for the table. At the time I was designing this table, I was also reading extensively about Amadeo Modigliani, who carved some caryatids under the influence of Constantin Brancusi. Caryatids are decorative figures used as support for structures. Usually female, either clothed, semi-clothed, or unclothed, there are also male and hermaphrodite versions. I'm fond of the unclothed female form, and it is incredibly weird that I should need to "defend" the use of the female form in art. I am not the first artist to use the female form in art. See Amadeo Modigliani. Very much, Modigliani expressed the infinite.

I am a child of the 20th. century, and like most artists, my art is a melange of influences, built on the foundations of those who preceded me. One of those foundations is the "deconstruction" of form, altering reality. See cubism, abstraction in general, also Modigliani.

Deconstruction, and altering reality to adapt to a new form; I designed the table support to be a torso, another not unusual art form. Each leg represents a section of the torso, viewed from the front. Left leg = left breast, ribs, down into the swell of the hips. Center rear leg = center of the torso, navel, the rise and fall of the belly. Right leg = right breast, ribs and swell of hips. Each leg is "in the round" so there is a lot of stylization in the forms.

The support rails are a bentwood lamination, wherein multiple thin pieces of wood are glued together, clamped over a form, that when dry, maintain the shape of the form. Two of these were glued together to form a "Y" shape.

This photo shows the "Y" shaped "rails" of the table, joined to the legs with floating mortise and tenon construction. The joints are cut while everything is still square, and left unglued so all of the pieces may be carved individually. The top is from several pieces of oak, joined, and as a counterpoint to the very organic base, has some angularity. The edge is chamfered, and stained red, again as a counterpoint to the base. The top rests on the base, which has two protruding dowels to secure the alignment.

The base is glued; final carving as needed, then it is gessoed. Gesso is a traditional product made of whiting, (ground limestone, chalk), hide glue, and water, that dries to a sandable, plaster like material. Polychrome, (paint) is applied to the base, and the top, after staining, gets a rubbed oil finish.

The construction of this table is of conventional and traditional wood working techniques; the polychrome and gesso predates high Egyptian culture. The form is late 20th. century, but based on the pantheon of all the art that preceded it. This is an art historical type explanation, mechanical, as the actual flow and sweep of form, as with all art, is beyond words. At some point, one needs to transcend thought, words, and just look and feel ART.