Duane Hanson's 'Sunbather Study I,' a painted, bronze sculpture of a fleshy middle-agedwoman lying idly in the sun, is a great illustration of realism.
The sculpture was hand modeled in bronze, then painted, clothed, and given hair.The finished effect is a lifelike rendering of its subject.Her skin appears to be soft and pliable, not made of the hard, inflexible bronze that it is actually composed of, demonstrating the artist 's talent. The broad curvature of her body is accurate; the precise details of her snoring face modeled in exactness.
The artist's choice of casting the woman in this particular metal is conceivably a contradiction to many sculptures cast in bronze, as it is a medium used in the past by virtuoso artists greatly concerned with aesthetics, who have created graceful, elegant figures using the lost-wax method. Also, the use of bronze in this figure is not a typical one, as the metal is known for its strength in suspension and verticality in sculpt! ure, and this particular piece is more parallel and flat to the ground.Perhaps the sculpture was cast in this way to emphasize its weight and bulkiness; and because it is created on a smaller scale, (no longer than two or three feet long) bronze is the best material to create such a figure. The method used in casting the bronze is unknown. The sculpture identifies as an ordinary woman you might see anywhere; on the street, at the grocery store, on the subway; except on a much smaller scale.The woman wears a brightly colored bikini, stretched over the bends and arcs of her immense body.She's surrounded by a number of small artifacts, a plastic pair of sunglasses, a cardboard pizza box, a small radio, an empty container of french fries.
The work provides us a satirical commentary on modern Americans, what with the obese subject's obvious penchant for fast food andlazy, sluggish post…