Cool Sculpture Finds in the Philly Art Museum

For this post, I figured I could share with you a part of my exploration of great sculpture finds throughout the Philadelphia Museum of Art. By splitting them into categories, I will briefly talk about my experience when discovering these pieces. Hopefully, through my ramblings, you can gain your own experience of this museum vicariously.

Also note that these photos are most likely not photographically perfect, but may be blurry or have movement. This is because the museum is very large, and to see it all in a day, you must look with speed, especially if you are traveling throughout with a group that has varying attention spans (it is so incredibly easy to lose everyone if you look away for too long). You can click the links to do some digging and knowledge explorations yourself if you feel intrigued enough.

Human

Standing at 13 feet and 1 inch, we have Diana. Made in 1892-93, she is constructed with gilded copper sheets made by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. She is the primary focus when in the Great Stair Hall of the museum. Her size can only make you look at her in awe when walking up the stairs to her. She is grand and beautiful to see. I even picked up a pin of her from the gift shop.

Next, we have the Pythian Sibyl made by Marcello (Duchesse de Castiglione-Colonna, born Adèle d’Affry) after 1869-1870. Made of bronze and sitting at 31 1/2 inches, she is amazing to look at. Her form is so elegant you can’t help but stare. The artist, being female, used a more masculine name to get recognized. She even used her own body to help model this piece.

Animalistic

This is the Face of Bhairava. Bhairava is a form of the Hindu god Shiva. The artist is unknown, but it is likely that this, among others, was made for festivals. This most likely was used to pour beer from its mouth for the celebrators to drink from and bring them luck. Both Hindus and Buddhists would use this for celebration. He was placed above a door and was jarring to discover. His head is quite large and looks almost evil from below. He was quite the scare when found.

On a sweeter note, we have this adorable little Puppy-Shaped Water Dropper. Made in the early 1800s in Japan, not much is known of this guy. He is 3 1/2 x 3 1/8 inches and probably the cutest artwork I saw that whole day. I can only hope to one day have him in my home.

I’m involving this owl only because it was funny how I discovered him. He is also looming over us from above a doorway, and I didn’t see him the first time I looked around the room. When I reentered, one of the gallery attendants pointed him out to me. He is a weird-looking Owl made by Pablo Picasso made of bronze. For a better picture, click the link.

Fruit

From the artist, Ming Fay, this from her Not-So-Ordinary Nature exhibition. Pieces spanning from 1984-2022, this is a large collection large plants and fruits. She has other nature exhibitions throughout the museum, but this one caught my eye the most.

This exhibition comes from the artist Zoe Leonard whom she named Strange Fruit. Made up of sutured fruit skins, this piece is meant to decay before our eyes. The link dives a bit deeper into the meaning of this piece, centering around the AIDS crisis and the lives lost, and the lives that the government saw as disposable. “Strange Fruit offers a haunting reflection on histories of violent persecution and a poignant meditation on mortality and transformation” – Philadelphia Museum of Art.

When I first saw this room, I was pretty baffled at it. I at first thought it was leather, similar to moccasins. To see what it was, I set off the alarm trying to get a better look at it. I find it to be such an interesting idea, especially after learning of the meaning. It is certainly something I want to try.

Honorable Mentions

To close this off, I’d like to share a few sculptures that I saw in passing that I can’t not share. The first image shows cute porcelain flower sellers that I believe are an amazing concept for a flower vase. The second is some kind of hanging decoration from a period room. I can’t find out which, but this moosemaidman (as I like to call him) was one of the highlights of my discoveries. Lastly is this strange tree sculpture that the museum had displayed outside. The only article I could find on it is behind a paywall, but with some digging, I was able to find that the title is Identita or “Identity” by the artist Giuseppe Penone.

Thank you for sharing your time with me and my discoveries from the great Philly Museum of Art and I hope you found these pieces as interesting as I did. <3

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