Sculptor Austen Brantley Heads to Italy

Sculptor Austen Brantley Heads to Italy
August 18, 2017 Sarah Zientarski

Detroit Performs featured artist Austen Brantley’s career has taken off since his appearance on Detroit Performs. He recently traveled to Italy to further his art education. Detroit Performs caught up with Austen and asked a few questions about his experience.

Detroit Performs – Why did you want to travel to Europe to study the arts?

Austen Brantley – I really needed to go to Europe to get more of an understanding about representational art. There’s so much that I wasn’t able to see in America and when I got to Italy I was able to see the different periods of art and sculpture Medieval, Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Romanticism, Academism and Realism.

How did you end up going to Italy?

I was able to go to Italy and study with four different master sculptors who I had established relationships with through the internet. I had been getting critiques from then since I was 18 years old.

Where did you travel?

Rome and Florence.

Who did you study with?

Four different sculptor mentors that each had their own way of teaching me.

What forms of art did you study?

Figure sculpture in the classical sense in Rome and figurative sculpture in the academic sense in Florence.

What did you learn while traveling?

I learned a lot about the histories of the different cities in Italy; how they were formed, how they were torn down, how the buildings were structured, how the architecture was perfected, and how each street is a historical landmark there.

What was your favorite part of learning from the artists in Italy?

My favorite part was being able to work for 12 hours and then go to two museums a day and look at the work done by master sculptors hundreds of years ago that just gave me a reference for what I needed to achieve.

What have you learned that you’re going to put in your own artwork?

The major thing I learned is about making a narrative in my work. The greatest art that I saw in Italy always had a very strong and powerful message, almost like a narration. It had a theme to it, it had a story behind it. So what I am really looking into now is developing a strong story and translating it into a moment of timeless art.

How has your artwork evolved since being on Detroit Performs?

I would say that my work has evolved in the emotional content I put into my work. To capture an emotion in my characters is my goal and always has been my goal and now that I’ve gained more training – and I’ve taught myself for another 2 to 3 years – I’ve learned how to take that emotion and turn it into a dialogue with each piece.

How has your artwork evolved since traveling to Europe?

It’s made me more critical in the sense that someone could be looking at my art 100 years from now and I want them to have that same emotion, the same feeling I had when I saw the work in Italy. I want to convey a strong, emotionally moving message to them and provoke deep thought.

What was the best thing about your trip?

The best part was feeling that I was right where I belong. I had an instructor who didn’t speak any English. and it was the coolest thing ever because the only way we could communicate was through the materials we were working with and we would be sculpting on a piece in his studio for hours. We would have this dialogue where he would point to a tool and I would already know what he was instructing me to do.

What are your thoughts on the old architecture in Europe?

It really shows the analytical but creative process of artists and craftsmen back then. It makes me feel like there’s always more that we can achieve and that we are thought of as kind of lazy today. We don’t take the initiative that they took back then to create timeless beauty in architecture and art.

To see Austen Brantley’s segment click here!