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Janine Antoni

Are there such things as Contemporary sculpture materials and other art materials that you can digest?

Janine Antoni knows that there are many more interesting contemporary sculpture materials than hard, boring marble. Obviously one can’t happily sink their teeth into Michelangelo’s famous marble sculptures from the High Renaissance. A series of sculptures by Janine Antoni entitled Gnaw are sculpted from chocolate and lard! Now it’s clear there are much more satisfying and delicious art materials to work with and have more sculpture meaning. One can catch her drooling and covered in sweets and fat while working on her artwork. Janine Antoni literally uses her teeth to carve the chocolate and lard sculptures. She might need a napkin to dab her mouth while she tares away at these works with her mouth. Clearly this contemporary approach is much more interesting that those to sculpture of the past.

“Gnaw, her manic feminist riff on the Minimalist cube, was also a big hit in 1993, when it appeared at the Whitney Biennial. The installation features 600 pounds of chocolate gnawed by the artist over a month and a half; 600 pounds of lard gnawed by the artist; a display with 150 lipsticks made with pigment, beeswax, and chewed lard removed from the lard cube; and 45 heart-shaped packages made from the chewed chocolate removed from the chocolate cube.” -Robin Cembalest

These Contemporary sculpture materials are just as fascinating as their symbolic meanings and their processes of construction. Chocolate bars might even surpass the high Classical arts. Sculptures of Greece and Rome only told stories and illustrated sometimes boring biographies with rock. Now there are an abundance of meaningful and unusual sculpture materials like sugar to choose from in making sculptures. There are many unusual sculpture materials, as well as insightful modes of creation to choose from. Contemporary sculpture has a sculpture meaning and it must convey the many aspects of culture through more than just art materials. As long as a sculpture’s materials and process are thought out, they can be most unusual. The materials of a sculpture help convey its purpose symbolically.

Art Materials and Sculpture Meaning

“Janine Antoni enacts a triumvirate of phobias that afflict many American women. […] Specifically, they include the phobia concerning fat and its compulsion, to diet; the phobia concerning aging and its compulsion, to retain a youthful appearance; and the phobia concerning loss of sex appeal and its compulsion, to seek romance.” -Linda Weintraub

Janine Antoni chooses her materials for their interesting symbolism. Surely no one would haphazardly sculpt a 600 pound slab of lard for no reason. When lard is used as  Contemporary sculpture materials, it raises awareness of the phobia that people have towards being overweight. Therefore Janine Antoni has created 600 pounds of commentary and sculpture meaning. And surely everyone desires an equal weight in chocolate, but is it art? When chocolate is used as unusual sculpture materials, it brings attention the the phobia towards loosing one’s sex appeal. This application of an idea unto these art materials transforms glutenous snacks into high art. The unusual choices of lard and chocolate were made in the name of meaningful symbols.

Contemporary Sculpture Materials and Process

Process can add ideological value to works just as contemporary sculpture materials do. It took a great deal of desire and determination to create Gnaw and other works by Janine Antoni. Layers of chocolate had to cool and chucks of lard had to set over an enormous amount of time. The labor-intensive work of making huge slabs of chocolate and lard exhibit sculpture meaning: an irresistible and compulsive process. Even nibbling away at the art materials, is a way for Antoni to show process. Gnawing at a slab of chocolatey unusual sculpture materials demonstrates an uncontrollable desire. Sculpting the works with her teeth is a process of compulsive desire. The compulsive processes of Gnaw are just a few examples of things like materials lending to a work’s purpose.


So are these works by Janine Antoni actually examples of Contemporary sculpture materials? There’s more images in these unusual sculpture materials than in media-driven American television! These unique sculpture materials are symbolic. Each of the many pieces of imagery alludes to some bit of culture. Western culture is full of aging, dieting, fasting, binging, and even sexing. These many actions are like processes to Antoni. Each of these cultural activities are reflected in the process of creating works by Janine. So It could be that these works are Contemporary because they are full of symbolism and sculpture meaning. It could also be that these art materials are Contemporary because they are examples of process, a staple of Contemporary Art. But Janine Antoni’s work is Contemporary Art because the unique sculpture materials have reason and purpose.

contemporary sculpture materials


Featured image: http://artpractical.com

Cembalest, Robin. “Self-Portrait of the Artist as a Self-Destructing Chocolate Head.” Art News. 21 February 2013. http://www.artnews.com/2013/02/21/chocolate-self-portraits-by-janine-antoni-and-dieter-rot

Weintraub, Linda. “Janine Antoni: Compulsive Activity” Art on the Edge and Over, edited by Linda Weintraub, Art Insights, Inc., 1996, pp. 124-128.

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Topher is the proud creator and editor of Culture Hog.


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