Lawrence Argent-Lecture Review by Ryan Baker


Ryan Baker

Arth 3539

Lawrence Argent

            Lawrence Argent, a well-known sculpture artist spoke at the Denver Art Museum on Wednesday, April 18.  This was a very compelling lecture and I was excited to find out that I am actually familiar with some of his works.  Argent is from England, getting his undergraduate degree in sculpture from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and his MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art.  Argent is a very famous sculpture artist known for his incredible sculptures all around Colorado.  I wasn’t really aware of him until he showed slides of his work like the big blue bear, that I was familiar with.  He has a very unique and unmistakable way of working and designing his pieces.  I was very intrigued to learn about the intricate processes that go into making one of his sculptures.  He shows great pride and passion when he talked about his work, and really went through all the details it takes to create his sculptures.

One of his most famous and well recognized works, is “I See What You Mean”, or The Big Blue Bear, a forty-foot tall blue bear outside of the Colorado Convention Center in Denver.  He talked about how he came up with the idea, and wanted to create something that represented what Colorado really is about.  He wanted people who were visiting to leave Colorado with the feeling of knowing where they were, and what Colorado really is.  It is there to represent Colorado’s natural beauty, and for a non-resident of Colorado to grasp the beauty of Colorado.  With the bear looking into the convention center, there is a symbiotic relationship between art and building.  Argent talked about how when he was proposing ideas for this space, he originally was going to build the bear with tan natural stone from Colorado, but the model turned out blue when he printed it out and loved the energy it produced.  He also explained how originally he was going to build the bear with 40,000 tiny triangles to give it less of a geometrical look, but the day of his presentation to propose his sculpture, he changed it to 4,000 triangles.  One of his favorite this about this piece is how it has become a symbol of Colorado, and all of the different reactions people have about.  He showed us pictures people would send him, and cartoons that the bear appeared in as well.  I love this work and how it has become an icon of Denver.

One of my favorite things about Lawrence’s talk was how he explained the process in creating and producing all of his works.  This is something that not all artists ever really reveal, and is something I also think about when I look at sculptures.  He had just installed a sculpture in the courtyard of newly built grad student lofts on the campus of the University of Houston.  He made three gourds to represent the history around Houston and gourds have been something that he has wanted to create for quite some time.  Two of the gourds were made from stone and one was molded from bronze.  He explained and showed pictures of how he chose the stone from a quarry in Texas, and used one huge block of stone for each.  These stone were extremely heavy and Argent showed us pictures of the process it takes to cut down and slowly shape the digital production of the sculpture.  It was insane to see these huge saw that were computer controlled creating perfect and precise cuts forming the sculpture.  He talked about the extreme difficulty in creating these, collaborating with producers, shipping them, digitally cutting them.  With the largest gourd, the computer-cutting machine couldn’t do what he wanted so they had to work on it by hand.  This gave it more of a natural and real look and feeling because there are imperfections that make it personal and more like a real gourd representing Texas.

I loved actually hearing about his process is producing all of these works.  He was a very well put together and passionate speaker and I was very happy that I took the time to make it to his lecture.  Knowing that he has a lot of works in Colorado I am really interested to go see them.  Mostly I want to make it Vail to see the installations that he made for the entrance of new condos.  My favorite part of it was a beautiful light sculpture that represented molecules, which Argent designed himself.  He showed and described the painful and stressful process of getting it made in California and figuring out how to do all of the things he wanted to do with it.  It was beautiful and was meant to mess up people’s equilibriums because it continuously changed colors, but it is mesmerizing to watch.  I really respect him as an artist and I loved that he shared so much about his works with us, which is something that not most artists do.  He has a great connection with his sculptures and with Colorado as well because he has created so many beautiful sculptures representing the beauty of Colorado.

One Response

  1. Hi Ryan,
    I think you did a good job introducing the general points of Argent’s lecture. Are all of his works cite-specific for the state that they will be in? I think that the way that he lets the cite appropriate his piece is a really interesting point in his work. One thing I would suggest is giving a more in-depth explanation of how he described the conceptual development of his work. You do a good job describing the more physical ways that his pieces came to be, and I think that developing the conceptual explanation would really help. Good job though!

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