Robert Benson and the infinities of his mirror art

This is one of those posting that ‘breaks the rule’. I usually write these postings following a certain plan, or an agenda. In other words, I have a long list of postings that I want to write, and tend to add the new themes at the end. But from time to time I encounter something completely outside of this agenda, and if it doesn’t require too much ‘research’ to write, I just dump my thoughts as is.

This is exactly such case, in many ways an epitome example of the ‘mirrors in art’ theme, and I mean, literally. My work is fairly minimal here, just to upload a dozen of pictures showing what I mean.

This epitome case is the art work by American artist Robert, or Bob Benson, from Baltimore. Who himself explains that the origin of his art was plain simple: at some point he was so much enchanted by the effects created by a mirror hanging on a string and reflecting the sun light, that he decided to devote all his to creations of such mirror things.

The picture above is a typical example of what he makes, so called ‘mirror tapestreis’. Of course, a static image does not reflect (sic!) how these things ‘work’, so I am showing below a short video illustrating these mirror works in dynamics.

Now, unfortunately WordPress does not allow to embed a video right into the blog, so the video can be see by clicking at the picture:

 

A more detailed close-up shows that this whole beauty is made in a very simple way. The artist takes small pieces of mirrors and assemble them on strings, sometimes adding other colorful decoration.

But this Robert Benson got totally fixated on this simplistic beauty and produced a great deal of this mirror-art, that now decorated his own house:

and everything around it:

By now he also reached many other places, too. For example, the local American Visionary Art Museum have acquired a number of his mirror-trees that now entertain the hordes of tourists:

All the pictures that I use here are not mine,I took then from two main publications available online: ‘Bob Benson, mirror artist‘ in Baltomore Sun and ‘Bob Benson’s mirror art‘ in the Capital Gazette, and all the rights belong to the corresponding authors (Algerina Perna and Paul W. Gillespie).

Both articles show not only the art works, but also a process of their creation:

From cutting glass stripes:

to making smaller pieces:

to making mirror sandwiches of some sort:

We can only imagine how he assemble these endless ‘mirror carpets’

During the years of playing this sport Robert also created many other format, too, including mobile:

and other mobile:

and yet another mobile:

including large figurative mobile:

This one, for instance, is the Star of David:

Perhaps not very clear on the above pictures, it becomes unmistakable on the one below:

 

These things are all nice, but I sense that his mirror carpets remains to be the most popular format, perhaps because of this combination of unpretentiousness and yet a very interesting visual effects they create.

And also because of ease with which they can be produced, in a true DIY way. Robert runs numerous workshops  during which participants learn how to create similar things themselves.

Very modest cost of these materials does help, of course:

It’ clear that his larger structures, like the trees I’ve shown earlier, require more stuff to make:

– for instance, more solid metal frames:

But I assume these are commissioned works, plus as I understood he is not making these more complex structure alone, and collaborate with other masters.

Well-settled in his familiar territory, Robert now can also venture into neighbouring genres, such as complex installation with LED, and create all these ‘infinite tunnels’ that became so popular lately (see the works of Peter Gronquist or Doug Durkee, for instance).

But as I wrote already, I sense that his heart is with simple, often funny creations, and with the latest technologies.

This last work (called oscillum) brought an unexpected catch. As Robert explains himself, “the design originates from ‘oscilla’ that Greeks and Romans hung in their vineyards to bring a good harvest. Bacchus, the Roman god of wine was usually depicted on one side of the disc.”

I made a quick search and it looks that these things indeed existed in Ancient Rome, or at least so says a wikipedia piece about Oscilla. It would be great to dig deeper into these topic at some point, and for now I’d open this ‘small door’ semi-open (or oscillating).

Here is an image linked to another short film about this artist (and also some stories he tells himself about his art):

I like his main message:  Yes You Can!

Robert is 86 years old, just for the record.

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