Envy, 2008 – 11. Mexican onyx and stainless steel, 22.1 x 17.2 x 9.5 in.

The Theatrum Mundi: Barry X Ball

A key to penetrating Barry X Ball’s sculptural enterprise (though not by any means to unlocking all its contents) was a phrase he let slip in a recent interview concerning his solo exhibition at the Ca’ Rezzonico in Venice. In musing on his engagement with “the longer history of art,” he observed, “I like mixing it up with the old guys.” While grappling with sculpture’s “old guys”—most strikingly with the Baroque—Ball manages to transfigure our perception of the masterpieces that he revisits, conflating the past with Post-Modernism in striking compositions. He effects these transformations by deploying sophisticated 3-D scanning and virtual modeling technology, computer-controlled milling, detailed hand-carving and polishing and, often, applying a complex resin infusion. Ball uses these processes to create contemporary works with a classical inspiration and a surreal aura. Showings of contemporary art in historical sites is much in vogue of late. The recent appearance of Jeff Koons’s towering balloon dog in a great salon at Versailles is a well-publicized example. …see the entire article in the print version of November’s Sculpture magazine.