One of the most difficult aspects of sculpting is the fine details. Individual muscles are one thing, but veins and folds in the skin? Seemingly impossible. The key word here is “seemingly,” because, for American artist Brett Harvey, it’s the standard for his work.
Born in 1985 in Boston, Brett Harvey is a sculptor who specializes in conveying his “concepts of masculinity and beauty.” He studied at the New Hampshire Institute of Art, earning a BFA in Painting. However, during a trip to Florence, Italy to study at the Florence School of Fine Arts, he found a new passion in sculpting. He shifted his focus to sculpture and attended the New York Academy of Art.
“Encompassing All of Humanity”
According to his website, his work “presents a dichotomy between intimidating physicality and pensive vulnerability. This upends historical tropes and speaks to the inner emotions and experiences conflicting and encompassing all of humanity.” While most of his statues showcase what many consider to be the ideal male body, their expressions are all tired and depressed. Typically, such paragons of health are depicted as pleased with their bodies. In Brett Harvey’s world, though, they are exhausted by their efforts.
While the exact message behind his work is more subjective, few can deny that Harvey has an eye for detail. For example, “Momentum” shows the arch of the subject’s feet and their shocked, almost pained expression. No part of his body is unaccounted for, from his belly button to his collarbones. But the realism also highlights the issue with such physiques. Having muscles is fine, but bulging muscles are far from healthy. Due to the stone being used and the lack of color, the danger of bodybuilding in this fashion is all the more obvious. “Bodysculpting” should not be taken as literally as it is here.
Harvey recently moved his studio out of Long Island City to Naples, Florida. He and his wife, fellow artist Lauren Amalia Redding, now teach classes and workshops out of the H&R Studio. The website explains that there is a focus on the human body, both on geometric shapes and anatomy. “At H&R Studio,” the mission statement boasts, “students learn how to create challenging, skill-based representational art, but with breathing room and informality so that each student creates work that is uniquely his or her own.” The space is also notable for doubling as Harvey’s and Redding’s private studios, giving it a sense of intimacy.
Harvey is still going strong. He publishes regularly on his Instagram account, showcasing upcoming projects as well as his creative process. Private lessons at the H&R Studio are booked solid. And his work continues to reflect the peak physique for men, however unobtainable it may be. “I hope that my own attempts to understand these spiritual and philosophical concepts will permeate my figures,” he wrote on his website, “to create work that bears the mark of our contemporary culture, speaks of the human condition, and encourages the same thoughts- and questions- in others.”
There are certainly plenty of questions, far more than any sculpture can answer.
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