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Conclusion to
David Cregeen His Work

The young French sculptor Henri Gaudier- Brzeska wrote: “civilisation begins with sculpture and ends with it”; summariisng in a sentence its timelessness, the past being as relevant to the future as the present is to both. Egon Schiller recognised this when he declared:  “Art cannot be modern, art is eternal”.

This feature of timelessness, always apparent in great art, is never absent from Cregeen’s sculptures. His use of broken surfaces supports the vital role of light and shadow in his sculptures. The surfaces directing attention away from the finite tangibility to the more infinite spiritual qualities; the surface alternations of hills and hollows create a vibrant pattern of highlights dancing over the surface of his work spelling life and vitality.

With Cregeen the contrasting emphases of order and adventure harmoniously blend one with the other. Jacob Epstein’s “the enduring elements that constitute great sculpture” come to mind. The distinguished classical scholar Maurice Bowra comments on Grecian art that "they achieved a style which is in the best sense of the word grand in that it makes no concession to vulgar sensation and concentrates on purity of line and significance of shape".

A great work of art represents a pinnacle reached, a peak achieved. Jacob Epstein commented that Donatello and his near contemporary Verrocchio with great subtlety do not let their works make “a parade of their strength; the effect is not exhausted at first glance. Full of authority they have at the same time that repose that is so essential in a work of art and gives one a sense of finality”.*

 

Great art produces an enigma as to what activates it because in the last resort it is indefinable. They have this streak that is elusive, the difference between mediocrity and greatness. As Von Hoffmansthal, librettist of the Richard Strauss opera Der Rosenkavalier, puts it: “in the how it is done- there lies the whole difference”.*

Reminders of the past, David Cregeen’s bronzes are also of the future, linking by their modernity of form what has been with what is to be. By control of the means they express the actual and suggest the other. They have their own distinction hinting at the mysticism of our world and the fundamentals of our being, in them is that sense of mystery.

  

Emile Zola describes a work of art as “a corner of creation seen through a temperament”. When we think on “David Cregeen His Work” we can experience with a writer two centuries before how “the mind of the spectator follows with joy the invention of the artist”.

 

Lois Katz. Former Curator of the Arthur M Sackler Collections New York and Administrator of The AMS Foundation for Arts Sciences and Humanities, 2018

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