Rococo painters’ fanciful tales in lush, verdant woods with seductively extravagant foliage have long been of great appeal to Marilyn Holsing and a rich source for her imagination. In their narratives, figures clad in luxurious garments traipse through the woods, flirting and playing seemingly without worry.
Among her favorite Rococo painters is Jean-Honoré Fragonard. In particular, she finds his series of five paintings at the Frick Collection in New York called The Progress of Love very intriguing. In homage, she has made this diorama based on two of the paintings from the series, The Pursuit and The Meeting. The work was initially conceived as separate dioramas each positioned against a wall, but as Holsing developed them she realized they shared a forest and wondered what would happen if she put them back to back, leading to this piece.
In this work the figures are made from clay, wood, wire, paint, and cloth and the trees are constructed from wood, paper, and plaster. The leaves and foliage are a combination of laser cutting and hand cutting and dying. Holsing embraces the handmade and its imperfections, contrasting with new technologies such as video, sound, and animatronics. As is true in most paintings, the observer is limited to a particular viewpoint. In The Pursuit of Love, the viewer is given the opportunity to explore the narrative from all sides, filling in what Fragonard did not, allowing viewers to enter into these scenes.
Holsing’s drawings, prints, and paintings have been included in many exhibitions, but this is the first time she is exhibiting a single, large-scale, three-dimensional piece.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website