Monday, August 6, 2007

Stretch

Anyone who has seen the exhibition Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years at MoMA in New York will agree with the critics that he has emerged as one of America’s greatest artists. The scale, the ambition and the sheer sensual power of Serra’s monumental sculptures are out on their own, speaking for the American spirit in a way few other works do. But that’s not what I want to talk about. I am fascinated by Serra as the unlikely inspiration of a heavy industrial enterprise called PICKHAN Heavy Fabrication. Based in Germany, this company fabricates oil drilling platforms as well as cones, toroidal and spherical plates, pressings, special weldments, and Serra’s masterpieces. So far they have made over 50 of them, working in close cooperation with Serra on design and development, production of mock ups, fabrication and finally rigging and installation. On their website, they list sculpture with pride as one of their business areas alongside shipbuilding, ship cranes, oil platforms, and aircraft construction. What Serra offers them is stretch. He challenges them to solve structural problems that are not often found in their usual business. The result? PICKHAN feels confident enough to take on projects they would previously have found too daunting. That’s what great art can do and that’s why I love having it around.

8 comments:

Susan956 said...

And that's probably why I spend time boiling yarn and putting in a blender and felting it and seeing what organic shapes I can make, and seeing how tree pods respond to a slow oven et al - just to extend what we know and how we respond to the world; to experiment with it. I think it marvelous a large manufacturer is achieving and producing in an associated creative field and understands that word I love..transferability. :)

So Kevin, do you paint or draw or sculpt or whittle or photograph or plane or..?? yourself??

Piotr Jakubowski said...

Curiosity is a wonderful thing, and makes a great combination when coupled with a zest for creation. PICKHAN should be proud of their support for Serra as they not only provide him with the assistance necessary to create those pieces, but remain innovative in a rather mechanical business. By keeping their minds open, they can also possibly learn some techniques or designs from Serra to use in their own business.

It's always great to see companies stepping out of their comfort zone to live up to a challenge. Whether they succeed or not isn't usually the point, but in this case, it shows how important taking risks may be.

Kempton said...

Love the blending of beauty and technology (in steel making) and the business opportunities created as a result. cool.

Jim Rait said...

I posted Rich Gold's matrix that attempted to frame Art, Science, Design and Engineering and I added a process at their intersection (http://snipurl.com/1pbj7) which you have illustrated for me very well. I used to like getting art and business involved in projects as the cross-fertilisation of enthusiasm and deep knowledge is incredible although risk averse people do get nervous!

the paper bicycle; Peter Scarks said...

Art is a way of solving problems. So is science. When did they diverge? Clearly this is another example that they are coming back together. Another is Da Vinci's bridge being built in Scandinavia. A third is the current trend in NPD. The debate over MFAs vs. MBAs is another potboiler. We are seeing the reshaping of the entire strategic landscape. Don't blink.

Susan956 said...

Full wording of abbreviations/acronyms would be welcome for we plebs.

Kevin Roberts said...

Susan - I learnt very early in my life that my skill in business was getting the best out of creative people, not making the stuff myself. Most recently we have seen this in Lovemarks which has unleashed our creative ability, as you may have seen in our JCPenney spots. But we do have artists in the family, my son Dan is a film-maker and my father-in-law, Don Honeywill played a mean sax. If you want to hear him, listen to the sax intro on the Beatles "All you need is love". And, as you probably know from the blog, I am a passionate collector of art.

Susan956 said...

Thanks for the response on this Kevin. I was curious. Indeed yes, one could not read your blog each day without realising your passion as collector. I 'dabble' in terms of your business side and seeing what product outcomes arise - hmmmm why? - perhaps I like to maintain a frisson of mystery. Perhaps I don't look to be influenced in certain directions. Perhaps I want my own creative self to emerge without feeling too overwhelmed..? Unsure.

I DO know that a good sax is just plain wonderful. I admire skill. I admire someone who really knows how to carve a great griffin on a church as much as a great rock wall builder as much as a great muso. In this sense life is grand.