Stories From My Ancestors
The Sculpture Of Jonathan Hertzel
“Bronze has been used to express human nature throughout time.” - Jonathan Hertzel
Jonathan Hertzel is a classically trained sculptor who calls himself a sculptural historian. Educated at the Pennsylvania Academy of The Fine Arts and the University of Rochester, with more than thirty years of experience under his belt, he can hold his own with more traditional artists who work in bronze. But he has a slightly different intention, one for which his history can provide hints. The artist feels that figurative sculpture changes in order to best represent the times in which it is created.
My one-of-a-kind bronze sculptures (says the artist) are inspired by an unfurling of elemental forces; earth, air, water, fire, coalescing into the underlying expression of the human form. The sculptures are rooted in motion, transition and passage, and are visually multi-directional. The bronzes are ideally suited for multiple interactions. The far and near views offer differing perspectives. Upon each passage, the changing views culminate into an evolving figurative landscape.1
Like many artists before him, his current work combines particular stories, formal considerations, and political undercurrents that bubble to the surface.
l. We think of bronze as an ancient material, classical and heavy, a material that implies solidity, permanence and description. Hertzel, however, uses bronze in order to show us the traces of bodies that have moved through these spaces, the energetic leavings of experience. Classical Greek sculpture aimed for idealized representation, the human form embodying the divine, deity made flesh. The Italian Renaissance restored that idea and further humanized the form. By the late nineteenth century, artists like Rodin allowed the marks of the artist’s hand and tools to remain in the work, increasing the sense of the felt presence of the sculpture, the sense that we, along with the sculptor, know the subject. This is the impression not just of a woman’s flank or a man bent with weight, but a particular woman’s flank, a knowledge of what that man’s burdens might be.