Italian company Robotor is inspiring artists to pick up marble as a medium — by delegating the laborious carving process to sculpting robots.
Carrara marble: People have been creating sculptures out of marble for thousands of years, and some of the best known works of art — including Michelangelo’s David — are made from it.
The marble used for that statue and many other masterpieces was mined from quarries in Carrara, Italy, and at one point, artists would fight over blocks of Carrara marble.
The robots can reproduce statues that took years to carve in just days.
Today, though, many artists avoid working with the medium — not only can it take months or even years to chisel a statue out of marble, but during the process, artists have to be careful to avoid inhaling the dust, which can cause a deadly health issue known as silicosis.
The sculpting robots: Now, artists are once again creating statues out of Carrara marble, but rather than chiseling the pieces themselves, they’re submitting their designs to Robotor and letting the company’s robots do the actual sculpting.
Not only does this save the artists from having to be in the room during the chiseling process, but it also gets them their finished pieces much more quickly — according to Robotor, the bots can reproduce a statue that took Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova five years to make in just 270 hours.
Helping hands: Not everyone is in favor of Robotor’s sculpting robots.
“If Michelangelo saw the robots, he would tear out his hair,” Italian sculptor Michele Monfroni told the NYT. “Robots are business, sculpture is passion.”
However, as art historian Marco Ciampolini pointed out, many of history’s greatest artists — including Michelangelo — delegated their work. The only difference between then and now is that today’s sculptors have robot helpers, rather than human apprentices.
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