Meme

MEME (MICHELANGELO – RODIN – ONSLOW FORD – JEANS)
2020 – ongoing
work in progress (finished clay original)

Meme developed out of Jeans’ interest in early-modern Western sculpture.

The Age Of Bronze, made by Auguste Rodin in 1875-1876, has become probably the most iconic sculpture of the Modern era. Before gaining its current title, Rodin’s sculpture of a young Belgian soldier held a spear in its left hand and was called The Vanquished Soldier to commemorate the Franco Prussian war of 1870-1871. It’s pose, and possibly subject matter, was influenced by Michelangelo’s Dying Slave in the Louvre, Paris. Rodin then removed the spear and The Vanquished Soldier became known as Awakening Man or Man Awakening To Nature, possibly to reflect the sexual re-awakening occuring after the restrictive morals of his time. It was only thereafter that it became known as The Age Of Bronze, hinting at the works re-discovery of the artistic possibilities permitted by the lost-wax bronze casting process.

Jeans was fascinated by the use of the same pose and figure-type to represent a wide range of different ideas and metaphors, even if contradictory. With Meme, Jeans re-copies Rodin’s original pose in order to present two opposite concepts: freedom as represented by the free-wheeling, winged Mercury and slavery as represented by a slave stymied by ball and chain.

Edward Onslow Ford, a British sculptor, openly admitted to using the The Age Of Bronze’s pose for Linus (1884), his sculpture of a young, athletic man holding a down-turned flaming torch that is in The Lady Lever Art Gallery, one of Jeans’ favourite art galleries. The word ‘linus’ and the down-turned torch both refer to mourning and death.