The artist's name was -- I would learn later -- Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Arcimboldo was a court painter for Maximillian II of the Hapsburg Empire.
To celebrate Maxmillian's reign, Arcimboldo created a series of four paintings called The Four Seasons. He used botanical forms to represent the season;s cycles, symbolizing the peace and prosperity of Maximillian's reign.
Imagine my utter surprise and delight to walk into the Flint Institute of Arts and even before I saw a single painting or paper gown, I saw life-sized renditions of four of Arcimboldo's works -- The Four Seasons.
This oversized (and I do mean oversized -- well over two stories tall) installation was in a couryard of the FIA and we passed it upon entering. I knew it would require more time spent.
The artist who created these is Philip Haas. He first created four smaller versions as prototypes, using fiberglass. These each stood about two feet tall, give or take an inch or two.
If Haas' name is familiar to you, you might be a film buff. His movie "Angels and Insects" was perhaps the best known of his four features. This particular installation was put together with the same care the director used in his movie, manipulating elements to achieve maximum impact.
The portrait busts themselves stand 15 feet tall. Rick is no shortie and he was dwarfed by this one.
In the paintings, Arcimboldo uses botanical forms appropriate to each season for the clothing and features of the "characters."
Haas does the same, using the paintings as inspiration and filling in what might not have been provided in a two-dimensional piece.
Each piece was made of hundreds of individual sections with molds made for each.
They are cast in fiberglass that is injected with pigment and added to a supporting steel infrastructure.
When assembled for exhibition, the figures required cranes, riggers and experts in sculpture installation. (How they got a crane into this area, I'll never know!)
I say "hat's off!" to Philip Haas. The exhibit was well worth a visit -- just for the awe factor. (Michigan readers, the exhibit is still at Flint Institute of Arts.)
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