'The Oligarchs'

Michelle Post

2014 - metal: aluminum

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Commissioned by the Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc., The Oligarchs is a modern reflection of American robber barons and industrial magnates from the 19th century Gilded Age. These characterizations of the wealthy elite who influenced political and financial policy reverberates through to the present, bringing to mind the recent protests surrounding the “1%”. Colorful, expressive, engaging and humorous describe these works brought to life by the artist’s imagination and technical command.

The artist uses the term “tronie” to describe these portraits. In the later 16th and 17th centuries, a tronie, referred to heads, faces, or expressions depicted in works that were not intended to be formal portraits but rather used as studies of interesting expressions or facial character. Frans Hals' painting 'Jester with a Lute', in the Louvre, is a good example of this genre, as are well known works by Rembrandt and Vermeer.

These 21st Century tronies arise primarily from the artist’s imagination. Post focuses on the features and expressions of anonymous people. They are not idealized, not a pretty or handsome media face, nor a particular person; yet, they are somehow familiar. They all are informed by a lifetime of stored observations. The original pieces are carved directly in Styrofoam, then modeled over which softens and unifies them. Following the casting in aluminum, the works were then painted in an expressive manner resembling weathered bronze.

In 2002, during a work-related project carving Styrofoam to test a number of coatings, Post was surprised as a head emerged from the block of foam. Never considering herself a carver, she was startled at the results. The continued carving of heads represents a major shift in her work.

About the Work
About the Work
metal: aluminum
cast from carved models
Gift of The Seward Johnson Atelier, Inc.
The Oligarchs by Michelle Post

  • The Oligarchs by Michelle Post
  • The Oligarchs by Michelle Post