ARTS495 Advanced Sculpture, John Taylor, Fall 2019 | SACI College of Art & Design Florence

ARTS495 Advanced Sculpture, John Taylor, Fall 2019

The aim of this class is to develop your own sculpture making process, from the aesthetic idea to the finished state. In the context of the extraordinary Italian art available in Florence, both historical and contemporary, each student will be encouraged to find his/her own preferences and develop his/her own sensibilities. Despite the technical difficulties encountered in a sculpture course, expressing one's own personal aesthetics will be our priority.

Emphasis will be placed upon the 14th century Florentine ideal of spatial exploration through volume and space, and through this principle we will be explore two fundamental methods in sculpture; the additive and the subtractive – modeling in clay or plaster as opposed to carving in stone.

For returning MFA students: Innovative experimentation in three-dimensional techniques will be encouraged, particularly if in close relationship to your own personal work/art language.

Please note: During the first half of the first semester there will be a field trip to the marble studios in Pietrasanta and to the quarries of Carrara, date to be announced.

Course Assignments

Advanced students are asked to complete two sculptural pieces of high quality during the term that will reflect their enrollment at an advanced level.

1) Advanced students are asked to work with the additive method - (modeling and casting in clay and plaster) and the subtractive method - (carving a piece of marble from your own ideas and drawings).
Sculpture assignments should be described with large size working drawings/sketches, and should include written statements on concept, materials, scale or any other pertinent documentation.
2) Advanced students are also responsible for organizing individual appointments/critiques with the instructor.
3) All Advanced students are asked to write an artist's statement for the first day of class. If extra time is needed, the statement can be turned in during the second class session.

N.B. Maquettes or models are not to be considered finished pieces.


Refer to SACI Student Handbook.
Attendance is required, absences will affect your grade: two unexcused absences result in a lowering of the grade by 1/3 of a letter; two late arrivals to class are considered the equivalent of one unexcused absence (arriving often late to class is one of the best ways to penalize your final grade).


1) Your grade will be affected by two unexplained absences.
2) Be on time for class: the assignment will often be explained at the beginning.
3) If you know that you will be absent on a given date you should notify the instructor ahead of time.

General Safety & Emergency Instructions

Click here for a pdf of SACI's General Safety & Emergency Instructions.

Additional Studio & Safety Rules

It is essential that you leave your work space clean and functional for the next class. STORE your work on the shelves, NOT ON WORK TABLES. DO NOT POUR PLASTER DOWN THE DRAIN IN THE SINK OR DOWN THE TOILET. This will clog the plumbing.

Only sculpture students are allowed in the sculpture facilities. Tools are not allowed out of the studio without special permission. Return all tools to their appropriate place in the tool cabinets.

The sculpture studios have two air-exchange systems—one for ventilation of dust from plaster and the other for ventilation of dust from marble and stone. When working in the studios the air-exchange systems must be utilized for maintaining proper ventilation and extraction of undesirable fumes and odors. The control panels are located on the walls of the studios. Once the ventilation is turned on, it will run for 30 minutes. A timer will then shut it down.

You are NOT permitted to use machinery unless you have been instructed in its use by the instructor of this course.

It is important to obey safety rules when working with power tools. When using these tools, you are required to wear dust masks, safety glasses, gloves, and smocks provided by SACI. When dealing with jobs that create dust (sanding, grinding, mixing powder-based materials), you will be required to wear a dust mask and to put back in the appropriate containers and/or cabinets all powders, clays, cements, glues, etc.

  • Wear the smocks provided by SACI at all times.
  • Do not wear jewelry and be sure to tie long hair tied and close to your head when working with or near the grinding wheel, operating other machinery, or using open flames
  • Wear eye protection and gloves when working with hand tools or power tools that produce flying chips or airborne particles
  • Wear safety shoes provided by SACI when working with heavy materials (20 kilos or more)
  • Always use the appropriate ventilation system when working indoors to avoid excessive smoke or dust
  • If necessary, use the shower in the sculpture studio to wash off dust or other substances
  • Do not use Walkman Personal Stereos or listen to loud music while operating machinery or power tools
  • Visitors are not allowed into the sculpture studio
  • Smoking is not permitted indoors

Click here for a pdf of a more comprehensive list of Sculpture Studio Rules.

Evaluation & Grading

Evaluation is determined by the commitment to quality, completion of course assignments, in-class activities, fieldwork assignments, attendance and your sketchbook. Advanced students are responsible for their progress during the term and for the completion of projects.

Graduate Students
Students in MFA, MA, and Post-Bac programs are expected to complete additional assignments and to produce work at a level appropriate for students in a graduate program. They are graded accordingly and, if they successfully complete all course requirements for graduate students, receive graduate-level credit for the course.


Please bring portfolios or CDs to the first class session

Week 1

Monday, September 9
Wednesday, September 11

Introduction to syllabus.
Introduction to studio practice.
An artist’s statement must be written and handed in at the start of class.
All ideas for projects must be accompanied first by a written statement of intent together with at least 2 large-sized drawings, sketchbooks, etc.
Review of previous work; students are asked to bring to class images of all sculpture made prior to this course.
Keeping photographic records and drawings.
Start first project: proposal, to include 3 drawings, small soap model.
​Critique on work in progress.

Week 2

Monday, September 16
Wednesday, September 18

Review of previous work.
Critique on work in progress.

Starting to think about producing a visual diary that will show the evolution of a semester of sculptural creation and research in Florence. This book must have a beginning, middle and an end. The book should include photos, drawings, artist’s statements, progress reports and any other memorabilia and artistic influences.

Related field trip

Week 3

Monday, September 23
Wednesday, September 25

Carving marble or other work in progress.
Related field trip

Week 4

Monday, September 30
Wednesday, October 2

Carving marble or other work in progress.
Related field trip

Week 5

Monday, October 7
Wednesday, October 9

Carving marble or other work in progress.
Related field trip

Week 6

Monday, October 14
Wednesday, October 16

Carving marble or other work in progress.
Related field trip

Week 7

Monday, October 21
October 23
Carving marble or other work in progress.



Week 8

MIDTERM BREAK (October 26 – November 3)


Week 9

Monday, November 4
November 6
Carving marble or other work in progress.


Week 10

Monday, November 11
Wednesday, November 13

Carving marble or other work in progress.

Week 11

Monday, November 18
Wednesday, November 20

Carving marble or other work in progress.

Week 12

Monday, November 25
Wednesday, November 27

Carving marble or other work in progress.

Week 13

Monday, December 2
Wednesday, December 4

Carving marble or other work in progress, critique.

Week 14

Monday, December 9
Wednesday, December 11

Carving marble or other work in progress, critique.

Week 15

Monday December 16
Wednesday, December 18

Finishing all works, critiques and studio clean up.


Related Field Trips

Below is a list of related field trips; to be decided every Monday or Wednesday, depending on the weather, and the state of work in progress:

The doors of the Baptistry
The Opera del Duomo

The Donatello pulpit in San Lorenzo
The Bargello (the national museum of quattrocento sculpture in Florence)
Casa Buonarroti ( Michelangelo's bas relief)
The Accademia (the David and the unfinished Prisoners)
La Specola (the wax anatomical museum)

Recommended Reading

In compliance with the Higher Education Opportunity Act Textbook Provision, SACI provides, when possible, the International Standard Book Number (ISBN) and retail price of required and recommended reading. Note: It is not necessary to purchase the books below. They are available for loan or consultation in the SACI Worthington LIbrary.

Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw, Mariner Books, 1990.
ISBN: 9780395530078 (Retail price: $16.95)

Adrian Stokes, The Stones of Rimini, Schocken,1988.
ISBN: 9780805202199 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Maarten Delbeke, Evonne Levy, and Steven F. Ostrow, Bernini Biographies : Critical Essay, Penn State University Press, 2007.
ISBN: 9780271029023 (Retail price: $37.95)

Camille Paglia, Sexual Personae, Vintage Books, 1990.
ISBN: 9780679735793 (Retail price: $20)

Georges, Didi-Huberman, Confronting Images: Questioning the Ends of a Certain History of Art , The Pennsylvania State University Press, 2005.
ISBN: 9780271024714 (Retail price: To Be Determined)

Margaret A. Gallucci, Benevenuto Cellini: Sexuality, Masculinity and Artistic Identity in Renaissance Italy , Palgrave Macmillan, 2005.
ISBN: 9781403968968 (Retail price: $36)

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