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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

From Miniature to Micro: Louis Rosenthal and Willard Wigan

Louis Rosenthal was a master sculptor in the early 20th century. His miniature bronze sculptures received international acclaim for being no more than an inch in height. Even the Royal Society of Miniature Painters changed their name in 1923 to the Royal Society of Miniature Painters & Sculptors solely to allow in the American sculptor.

Miniature silver deer bust and Bacchantes in bronze.

Today, Rosenthal’s tiny works of art are being challenged in size and in awe by micro sculptor, Willard Wigan. Born in Birmingham, England in 1957, Wigan suffered from dyslexia and learning disabilities, and found solace in creating art of minute proportions.
“It began when I was five years old,” says Willard. “I started making houses for ants because I thought they needed somewhere to live. Then I made them shoes and hats. It was a fantasy world I escaped to where my dyslexia didn’t hold me back and my teachers couldn’t criticise me. That’s how my career as a micro-sculptor began.”

Wizard of Oz

Wigan’s sculptures cannot be seen with the naked eye and therefore, viewed under a microscope. Each piece sits within the eye of a needle or on a pin head. The effort put into making each piece is inconceivable. In order to achieve the detail on such a miniature scale, Wigan enters a meditative state to slow his heartbeat, which in turn, reduces hand tremors and increases concentration. He works at night when there are less distractions and minimal disturbances. On average it takes about eight weeks to complete a sculpture.

The Thinker (L) Peter Pan (R)

While Rosenthal used wax cast in bronze for his miniatures, Wigan’s micro sculpting warrants using untraditional materials such as grains of sand, nylon, dust fibers and spider’s cobweb to construct his sculptures. He uses such handmade tools as a hair off a housefly’s back and a human eyelash for painting.
Church of St. Bartholomew

Wigan’s pieces relate to all audiences. His subject matter ranges from popular culture to classical inspirations, such as, Michelangelo’s David, to Disney characters, to replicating historical events. Although Wigan’s sculpting methods are unorthodox and his work barely visible, his art has become an international fascination and his creations have taken sculpting to the extreme. Nearly a century apart, the sculptures of Rosenthal and Wigan stunned the world in their own time. Different in style, technique and material, both sculptors realized the potential and true meaning of their art; that size does not define art, but vitality, conception and spirit go along way.

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    Chicago, Illinois, United States
    Welcome to our blog site! MIR Appraisal Services, Inc. is a fine art and personal property appraisal company dedicated to serving clients throughout the United States and abroad since our incorporation in Chicago in 1994. We specialize in the multi-faceted field of appraising fine art, jewelry, antiques, and decorative items. We also provide professional fine art restoration and conservation treatment for various media, including but not limited to, artworks on canvas, board, masonite, and paper. We offer professional and precise appraisal services carried out by our team of accredited appraisers for the purposes of insurance coverage and claims, charitable donations, estate planning and probate, equitable distribution and fair-market value. We started our art commentary blog site as a venue for colleagues and fellow art enthusiasts to share their experiences within the art community.