I maintain a few shelves packed with busts of famous and infamous characters. One shelf is devoted to despots, who as a rule demand more busts of themselves than duly elected officials. On another sits the heads of other people, both real and imagined.
I don’t count bobbleheads. A bust must be one piece—preferably head and shoulders—and solid. They come in different sizes and various materials but as a rule busts are nothing to laugh at; they must exude authority—they demand respect.
Power emanates from their typically stern yet expressionless gazes. They are creepily hypnotic and menacing too. Of course, the larger the bust, the more powerful the impact. Take, for example, Mount Rushmore designed and carved by Gutzon Borglum, the most colossal American bust of all and intended to dwarf all who see it into supplication. But, the fact is that busts, large and small, are seeped in the kind of religiosity that is designed to be sacred.
Busts are both place and place-holder. They have more volume than a photographic portrait and by virtue of their dimensionality are more one with the environment in which they sit and are reminders that the bustee is ever-present. Busts are past, present and future.
PRINT’s Summer 2015 Issue: Out Now!
The New Visual Artists are here! In this issue, meet our 2015 class of 15 brilliant creatives under 30. These carefully selected designers are on the scene making the most cutting-edge work today—and as many of our previous NVAs, they may go on to become tomorrow’s design leaders. Why not get to know them now? Check the full issue out here.