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Art

#anatomy#bronze#Prune Nuorry#sculpture#trees#trompe l’oeil

Through Trompe L’oeil Bronze, Prune Nuorry Fuses Human Anatomy and Arboreal Roots

May 16, 2023

Grace Ebert

A figurative sculpture that appears like roots or veins stands in a gallery

“Atys (3).” Photo by Annik Wetter. All images © Prune Nuorry, shared with permission

At the end of Jean-Baptiste Lully’s baroque opera Atys, the titular character is transformed into a tree. This metamorphosis, the result of a spell cast by an agitated goddess, secures Atys’ Earth-bound fate, melding human and plant life into a single body.

French artist Prune Nuorry draws on this mythological allegory in a series that visualizes the hybrid form. Standing several feet tall to be lifelike or larger, a trio of bronze figures emerges through intricate networks mimicking both veins and branches, “fractal shapes that we can find in different scales in nature,” the artist says. Each sculpture references the form’s roots in operatic performance, and Nuorry painted the smooth metal in a trompe l’oeil style so that the works appear as if made of rope, used frequently in stage rigging. This illusory material also alludes to the connection between the infinitely large and infinitely small, a concept often described in the framework of string theory.

Nuorry, who lives and works between New York and Paris, has long been interested in the body and the way it interacts with the environment. She recently completed a massive public work featuring a pregnant mother embedded in the land, and earlier projects include anatomical sculptures that similarly connect vein and branch. In her ongoing In Vitro series that began back in 2010, for example, Nuorry uses laboratory glass to create delicate, sprawling renditions of human lungs and bodies. As a whole, her practice “questions the notion of balance and the ethical issues attached to it: the body and healing process, the dangerous demographic imbalance due to (the) selection of babies’ sex in some countries, the ecosystem, and (the) interdependence between living species,” a statement says.

Last year, the artist collaborated on a performance of Atys, and you can see the massive rope installation she created for that production in the video below. Find more of her corporeal projects on Instagram.

A figurative sculpture that appears like roots or veins stands atop a pedestal outdoors

“Atys” at Assemblee Nationale. Photo by Laurent Edeline

A detail of figurative sculpture that appears like roots or veins stands in a gallery

Detail of “Atys (1).” Photo by Annik Wetter

A glass sculpture of lungs that appears like roots or veins hangs on a gallery wall

“Fractal Lungs” (2019), lab glass, 50 x 60 x 25 centimeters. Photo by Bertrand Huet Tutti

Three figurative sculptures that appear like roots or veins stand in a gallery

“Atys.” Photo by Annik Wetter

A glass figurative sculpture that appears like roots or veins hangs on a gallery wall

“River Woman” (2019), borosilicate glass, 195 x 75 x 20 centimeters. Photo by Bertrand Huet Tutti

A detail of a glass figurative sculpture that appears like roots or veins hangs on a gallery wall

Detail of “River Woman” (2019), borosilicate glass, 195 x 75 x 20 centimeters. Photo by Bertrand Huet Tutti

#anatomy#bronze#Prune Nuorry#sculpture#trees#trompe l’oeil

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