Viewing Room

Larger - Than - Life

Opera Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition featuring over 20 big, bold and beautiful sculptures by 13 modern and contemporary artists from across the world. This immersive online show, with “larger-than-life” artworks presented outdoors as well as indoors, would have been impossible to stage in reality, as none of our 13 exhibition spaces could accommodate so many large pieces at the same time.
Whether to inspire awe or push the technical limits of their medium, sculptors have long worked on a larger-than-life, even monumental scale. Monumental art has always caught the attention of the human eye, it alters or emphasizes the viewer’s perception of space and proportion. Furthermore, large volumes often contribute to convey strong messages, that the artists are thus able to express fully: the imposing and majestic proportions of monumental sculptures give a sense of power, evoke admiration and wonder and never cease to amaze.
Keith Haring, Untitled (Head Stand), 1988
Painted steel, 701 x 302 x 302 cm (276 x 119 x 119 in)
Constantly looking at the world around him for inspiration, Keith Haring found great interest in capturing the living forms of contemporary dancers: break dance and electric boogie culture taking hold of America’s youth in the late twentieth century. In Untitled (Head Stand), Haring presents two figures in a ‘totem pole’ sequence where the man balancing on top relies on the strength and stability of his counterpart below. The vibrant colours and the typical cartoon-like style contribute to the jovial and naive sensibility of this work.
Robert Indiana’s archetypal stacked LOVE  composition, with its bold serif lettering of VE stacked beneath the L and tilted O, is one of the most ubiquitous works of art of the century.

"Some people like to paint trees. I like to paint love. I find it more meaningful than painting trees."
Robert Indiana
Robert Indiana, Love (Gold faces - Red sides), 1966 - 2002
Polychrome aluminium, 182,9 x 182,9 x 91,4 cm (72 x 72 x 36 in)
Niki de Saint Phalle, La machine à rêver, 1970
Fiberglass and painted polyester, 280 x 346 x 120 cm (110.2 x 136.2 x 47.2 in)
La machine à rêver associates the ‘character’ of Saint Phalle’s legendary Nana figure with the fractured composition of a riding/cycling vehicle. The blind body enjoys the simulated mechanisms of a dream-cycle as she is pulled on the back of a wheeled machine. With this sculpture, Niki de Saint Phalle departs from the single-figure Nana and begins to explore the greater and bolder dimensions of the oversize goddess set in oversized furnishings.
Demonstrating the unique pictorial language that Jean Dubuffet pioneered in his seminal L’Hourloupe series, Tea cup I is a monumental personification of a simple daily ritual, where the humble cup of afternoon tea has been elevated to heroic proportions.
Jean Dubuffet, Tea cup I, 1967
Polyurethane paint on polyester resin, 197,5 x 127 x10,1 cm (77.8 x 50 x 4 in)
"Sculptures permit me to create real volume. One can touch the forms, one can give them smoothness, the sensuality that one wants."
Fernando Botero
Fernando Botero, Woman on a Horse, 1990
Bronze, 183 x 102 x 112 cm (72 x 40.2 x 44.1 in)
Fernando Botero, Man with Cane, 1988
Bronze, 240 x 120 x 67,9 cm (94.5 x 47.2 x 26.7 in)
Manolo Valdés, Ariela, 2011
Aluminium, 305,1 x 294,6 x 150,1 cm (120.1 x 116 x 59.1 in)
"We build upon that which art history has placed in our hands"
Manolo Valdés
Manolo Valdés, Mariposas, 2015
Painted steel and steel wires, 540 x 1100 x 660 cm (212.6 x 433.1 x 259.8 in)
Walking through Central Park a few years ago, Manolo Valdés saw a woman sunbathing, with monarch butterflies swirling around his head. That image - along with an exhibition of tropical butterflies at the American Museum of Natural History and a Spanish expression describing people with a lot of ideas as having butterflies in their heads kindled something in the artist.“ All of a sudden, they were everywhere,” Valdés said of the butterflies in an interview with The New York Times. “That’s how ideas start. You never know when one is going to pop in.”
Manolo Valdés captures Las Meninas by Velázquez, details them, diverts them and multiplies them. He explains: “What amuses me the most is to repeat the same image while transforming it. A single creation is not enough to tell everything. As with photography, several shots are needed to tell a story”.
Manolo Valdés, Reina Mariana, 2017
Bronze, 180 x 120 x 135 cm (70.9 x 47.2 x 53.1 in)
Manolo Valdés, La Pamela, 2015
Aluminium, 385 x 680 x 680 cm (151.6 x 267.7 x 267.7 in)
Valdés comments on the juxtaposition between the static faces of his sculptures and their dynamic headdresses, stating, “I must admit that I adore the pronounced tension that is established between the two parts; it’s as if they were two entirely different sculptures. And the challenge is having them function as a harmonious whole, as well as allowing their initial different formulation to be seen not as something separate but as something enriching.”
Amedeo Modigliani, Tête de Cariatide
Bronze, 227 x 75 x 85 cm (89.4 x 29.5 x 33.5 in)
Pablo Atchugarry, Esprit de Paris, 2019
Statuary Carrara marble, 221 x 43 x 27 cm (87 x 16.9 x 10.6 in)
"When I started to work as an artist, I realised very quickly that I had no other choice but to become a sculptor. The first time I visited Carrara, it was like finding true love. I felt that Michelangelo had been there and left something there for other sculptors to follow in his footsteps. Every time I go to Carrara, I have the same feeling: that the mountain is somehow entrusting its children to me."
Pablo Atchugarry
Marc Quinn, The Archaeology of Desire, 2009
White painted bronze, 232 x 295 x 100 cm (91.3 x 116.1 x 39.4 in)
Marc Quinn, Myth Fortuna
Bronze, 235 x 230 x 270 cm (92.5 x 90.6 x 106.3 in)
"The yoga-like pose, reminiscent of an Indian sculpture of Shiva, is in a contemporary scene about trying to affect spirit through the body. It also seems to symbolise that Kate’s Moss image is sculpted by society’s collective desire, contorted by outside influences. She is the reflection of ourselves, a knotted Venus for our age, a mirror, a mystery, a sphinx."
Marc Quinn
Bernar Venet, 83.5° ARC X 10, 2018
Cor-ten steel, 197 x 108 x 70 cm (77.6 x 42.5 x 27.6 in)
Bernar Venet’s sculptures are named after their mathematical compositions, referencing only the degree of the angle or curve that determines the work’s form and the number of elements in the composition, demonstrating the artist’s theoretical and formal investigations of order and disorder, and the determinate and indeterminate.
"I like to create the internal structure of things – the human figure is an organic form, but has many geometries: our organs, bone structure, cells and molecules. Then I like to vary this structure till it has an emotional effect on me."
Tony Cragg
Tony Cragg, Out of Sight, Out of Mind, 2003
Pair of bronze sculptures, 300 x 135 x 150 cm (118.1 x 53.1 x 59.1 in)
Tony Cragg, Chain of events, 2007
Wood on metal base, 290 x 105 x 105 cm (114.2 x 41.3 x 41.3 in)
Frank Stella, Estoril #XII, 4.75X (2nd version), 1982
Oil stick, urethane enamel, alkyd and Magna on etched magnesium, 283 x 323 x 43 cm (111.4 x 127.2 x 16.9 in)
Frank Stella’s Estoril XII, from Circuits, 1982 is part of the artist's acclaimed series inspired by race tracks from around the world. This particular example takes the forms of the Estoril circuit, the auto-racing track in Portugal as Stella's subject matter.  From an aerial perspective, Stella captures the fluidity and directional flow of the circuit, a mixture of angular and organic lines. 
Frank Stella, Does the Whale Diminish?, 1988
Oil, oil stick and enamel on aluminium construction, 203,2 x 365,7 x 91,4 cm (80 x 144 x 36 in)
"Yes, but Moby Dick was for me, much more. It’s not fair to Melville, but it was an around-the-world adventure story about struggling with larger-than-life forces."
Frank Stella
Anthony James, 80" Icosahedron, 2020
Stainless Steel, specialised glass, LED lighting, 203,2 x 203,2 x 203,2 cm (80 x 80 x 80 in)
"I try to make a visual description of the infinity, the cosmos or the divinity inside oneself."  
Anthony James