ROBERT G. SIMON
Figure sculpture offers a three-dimensional illusion of a three-dimensional reality, i.e., the human body in nature. In comparison with painting and other two-dimensional media, sculpture’s intrinsic capacity to occupy space in the same manner as the thing it represents affords the work a more comprehensive equivalence to its referent. However, this defining feature of the medium also constitutes an artistic liability, in that it can draw our attention to what a sculpted figure still lacks, which is movement and life. When the ancient religious function of statuary no longer pertains, what does it take to animate the sculptural object in the mind's eye, as if it embodies a spirit after all? An animate being is all motion and flux—even a professional model can’t hold perfectly still under the artist’s sustained scrutiny and thus presents differently from moment to moment. For millennia it has been possible to replicate the human form by means of molds, and in more recent times via photography and digital scanning; regardless, all of those technologies freeze the subject at the moment of contact. On the other hand, a live presence constitutes a moving target, as do the fleeting images of pure imagination; therein lies the sculptor’s challenge and opportunity, still.
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Robert Simon is an artist and educator residing in New York City. He graduated from Washington University in 1976 with a BA in Art History. He attended the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1978-1982, earning that institution’s Certificate. While a student at the Academy, he won the Cresson and Dutrow awards, placed first in the Stimson competition, and took honorable mention in both the Stewardson and James Wilburt Johnson competitions. He has also received the Mary Butler Award and the Purchase Prize from the PAFA Fellowship. Mr. Simon’s professional practice conjoins sculpture and drawing from life and from the imagination. In 1995 he joined the graduate faculty at the New York Academy of Art, where he continues to teach. For NYAA, he devised a researched, interdisciplinary curriculum that integrates the study of art history and criticism with an intensive program of studio training in modeling technique and the principles of composition. Mr. Simon is the author of “Outsourcing Technique: Mimesis, Method and Metaphor in Figure Sculpture”, published in 2014 as a chapter of the Rizzoli book The Figure: Painting, Drawing and Sculpture; Contemporary Perspectives. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including Forget Not Beauty; the Legacy of Arthur Decosta, at the Wayne Art Center in October of 2021. The John Davis Gallery presented solo exhibitions of his work in 2017 and 2019. His work is featured in public and private collections in the US and UK, and has elicited the following critical reactions:
“Robert Simon’s heads…all project an extraordinary physical presence and intense emotion. Some are represented as if responding to a physical or psychological blow. Others, such as Bray Head, seem to have different facial features and moods when viewed from different angles.” —Daily Times (MD) April 14, 2013 “Of note were works by Robert Simon, Meg Murch and Thaddeus Ehrdahl, the most captivating of which was Imaginary Head by Simon. Roughly handled yet subtle in execution, this brooding bust in unglazed earthenware communicated a depressing solitude.” —Ceramics Monthly, Jan 2011.