Art in Bones: 3D Printed Sculptures from The Czech Republic

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Czech artist Monika Horčicová creates fantastic conglomerations of 3D printed bones – the kind you imagine could have come from the skeletal remains of Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky. The creations are so arresting it is difficult to take your eyes off of them as they threaten to begin to move towards you. Horčicová’s work isn’t done to revel in the macabre. These pieces instead highlight the mathematical beauty of dynamic structures and bones.

1hThere is also a deeper connection between the subject of her pieces and the processes she uses to create them; after all, bones are simply the result of another additive manufacturing technique in nature’s toolkit. The pelvic bone featured prominently in her sculptures, possibly a statement about (or at least a nod to) the power of [re]production. And why not? Many sculptors have thought of their 3D work as something that is born.

Horčicová is not the first to work with bones. The Sedlec Ossuary of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic was built and elaborated using actual human bones. It is estimated that the skeletal remains of between 40,000 – 70,000 people participate in the structure and decoration of this Roman Catholic chapel. While Horčicová does not specifically refer to the Ossuary, she does include among her creations a piece entitled Relikviář, translation: reliquary. While some have been tempted to see it as a purely scientific commentary, it is also clearly connected to the practice of preserving sanctified relics.

10Her Bachelor’s Thesis, completed at New York’s School of Visual Arts, explored 3D printing in polyurethane resin as a means for creating geometry through the skeleton. She has also experimented with laser printing and digital embroidery as media for exploration of the human skeleton. Horčicová’s work at a number of venues in North America and in Europe and is garnering increased attention with each show. She is continuing her immersion in sculpture and 3D technologies under Professor Michal Gabriel in the Fine Arts program at Brno University of Technology.

Reliquary

Reliquary

Because of an increasing difficulty in obtaining actual human bones for art, the 3D printing of them has really meant a lot to those interested in skeletal art. The famous diamond encrusted skull of artist Damien Hirst, for example, might not be possible to create anymore with actual human bones, because of tightening export regulations and because of confusion over laws regarding their possession and display. Bones created by machines rather than grown in people are not subject to any of those laws, or whatever people might think those laws say.

So, for now, Horčicová has managed to avoid at least one controversial aspect of working with bones, giving the viewer time to contemplate her works on their own merits.

What do you think about Horčicová’s amazing work with the help of 3D printing?  Let us know in the 3D Printed bone sculpture forum thread on 3DPB.com.  Below are some additional pieces she has created.

bone-1

bone-2

 

 

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